How The Bard of Ayrshire Can Inspire You
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.
Those famous words are from “Address to a Haggis” written by Burns in 1786. I remember being a young boy and learning this one year for a Burns Supper and poetry festival we were putting on at school.
Although none of us understood all the words at first, this and many Robert Burns poems soon captured our hearts and imaginations. As a writer myself, I find it inspiring and wonderful that these words written over 200 years ago are still recited with great gusto all around the world today.
We’ve put together The Robert Burns Guide to Content Marketing below to inspire your efforts in today’s digital world.
Introducing the 5 Ps
Our approach to content marketing is built around the foundation of the 5 Ps.
Keep reading to discover how Robert or Rabbie Burns as he’s often called, is a great example of how you can get your content noticed by a much wider audience.
Burns had a clear plan in place for his poetry. After years of working unsuccessfully on farms while he developed a passion for writing, he was advised to publish his poems as a means to earning money to pay for his journey to Jamaica. He’d been offered a job there as a bookkeeper and was keen to leave Scotland to try a new life.
This approach fits into the four main planning stages we look at for content marketing:
Setting your objectives
These should be S.M.A.R.T. business goals you can align your content marketing strategy with.
Researching your audience
Speak to your customers and develop personas you can use as a basis for all the content you produce.
Checking out the competition
Defining your marketing themes
You should work with the main stakeholders in your business to agree upon a set of core content themes as well as ‘edge’ themes such as events and holidays throughout the year.
Burns’ objective was clear from the outset and there was clearly an audience for his many works. He developed a unique voice that set him apart from other poets and had strong content themes of romance, Scotland and food amongst others.
That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
Some usefu' plan or book could make
- Epistle for Mrs. Scott
Here are some resources we recommend for finding out more about planning your content marketing strategy:
- The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing by Neil Patel
- Developing Your Content Strategy: What You Need to Know by The Content Marketing Institute
- How to Develop a Plan of Attack for Your Content Marketing Strategy - Entrepreneur.com
- A Guide to Content Marketing for Marketing Managers
When it came to producing poetry, Burns was a prolific writer. Many of his ideas were based on his real life experiences such as women he’d romanced and places he’d visited.
Keep reading to discover three proven steps to producing engaging content.
Generating and capturing ideas
Before you can create your content you need to be able to generate and capture ideas. These should be based around the content themes you came up with at the planning stage and be aligned with your business goals.
How to select the right format?
Look for gaps in what content formats your competitors are producing then filter it down further to suit your in-house capabilities. For example, if you don’t have a designer, creating an infographic may not be the best format to use, unless you want to outsource.
Creating your content
Your content should have as many of these seven characteristics as possible, whether it’s a blog post, eBook, infographic or email newsletter.
- It's actionable
- It teaches the reader something NEW
- It's backed up with data sources
- Delivers on its promises
- It outshines everything else that is out there
While writing poetry has a different goal from marketing content, Burns certainly succeeded in delivering personality and outshining everything else that’s was out there at the time.
Not all of Burns’ work was original, he was also known to take traditional Scottish folk songs and adapt them with his own lyrics. You don’t have to create all your content from scratch, you can curate other people’s content to create compelling new articles or infographics.
Where are the Muses fled that could produce
A drama worthy o' the name o' Bruce?
- Scots' Prologue For Mr. Sutherland
Here are a few more useful resources on creating epic content for your business:
- Demystifying Epic Content: How to Actually Create It - BoostBlogTraffic
- How to Create Epic Content - Copyblogger
- 14 Examples of Truly Epic Content: How Does Yours Stack Up? - QuickSprout
As all his poems were written in the 1700’s, Burns didn’t have the choice of many different publishing platforms like we do today. On 14th April 1785, Burns’ ‘Scotch Poems’ were first published by John Wilson, a local printer in Kilmarnock.
Once you’ve got your content live on your blog, whether it’s a video, PDF, article, infographic or some other format, you need to ask yourself two main questions at this stage:
Where to publish your content?
There are plenty of social platforms where you can share your content to a wider audience, but it pays not to take a blanket approach. Make sure you’re visible where your potential customers are active and engaged.
For example, if you’re in the manufacturing sector, Instagram will not work as well for you as other platforms such as LinkedIn.
When to publish your content?
When should you publish your content? ‘Whenever you feel like it’, is not the best approach...Here’s a great article with optimum days/times for each of the main social platforms.
Robert Burns certainly didn’t have tools such as SocialBro and Followerwonk to help him reach his audience at the optimum times, but luckily we do, so make sure you utilise these to cut through the wall of ‘noise’ that now exists online.
Happiness is but a name,
Make content and ease thy aim
- Lines Written In Friars'-Carse Hermitage
- The Best Times to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Media Sites - Hubspot
- Best Times to Publish Content for Social Media Engagement - AddThis
- The Best Social Media Management Tools by Dashburst
After the success of his first book of poems, Robert Burns was ready to set sail to Jamaica with the money he’d made.
That was until Thomas Blacklock wrote a letter expressing admiration for Burns’ first published works, and suggested an expanded second volume.
When Burns saw a copy of the letter he said "I had taken the last farewell of my few friends, my chest was on the road to Greenock; I had composed the last song I should ever measure in Scotland – 'The Gloomy night is gathering fast' – when a letter from Dr Blacklock to a friend of mine overthrew all my schemes, by opening new prospects to my poetic ambition.”
While Burns didn’t have any outreach tools to help him achieve this, the strength of his work meant he was still able to appeal to influencers and get his poems noticed for the right reasons.
When you’ve got your content ready to go, what steps do you need to take to promote it?
Make sure it’s optimised so people can find it
This is the first step to promotion. Having well written meta titles, descriptions and social media snippets for your chosen platforms will help get your content noticed by people who are looking for it.
Find influencers to help you amplify your reach
Your content will only go so far by publishing it on your own social channels and having engaging descriptions on social media. Getting social shares and backlinks to your website is the name of the game and to do that, you need to find influencers in your niche to share your content far and wide.
To help us do this, we use BuzzSumo, but there are many other platforms that do the same kind of things.
Reach out via social media and email
Once you have your list of relevant influencers, you need to reach out to them in a natural way. Asking for social shares and backlinks bluntly and without any hint of offering anything useful will fail.
Promoting content is far easier now than ever before, but whatever you produce has to be of an exceptional standard to get noticed and appreciated.
Robert Burns had none of the modern technology or online platforms we have today, but his content was so incredibly good, it managed to find many influential admirers.
If your content adds real value to someone’s audience, they’re far more likely to share it. And this is the angle you should take when crafting these cold approaches. Your aim should be to build relationships, and not take a love ‘em and leave ‘em approach.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
- Ae Fond Kiss
- Blogger Outreach: How to Get Influencers to Promote Your Content for Free - BoostBlogTraffic
- The Definitive Guide to Influencer Targeting by Kissmetrics
- 3 Steps to Influencer Marketing on Social Media - LinkHumans
Sadly, Robert Burns was only alive long enough to see a small portion of his success. There’s no doubt that the performance of his poetry in terms of being shared all over the world has exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations.
School children in Scotland and further afield are discovering his poetry for the first time every year and some of his most famous work has become entrenched in modern day culture.
In other words, the promotion of Burns’ poems has been a phenomenal success, but how can you measure the ROI of your content marketing?
Vanity vs sanity
Before you can properly measure the success or failure of your content marketing efforts, you need to be focused on the right metrics.
Vanity metrics such as getting more Twitter followers or Facebook likes mean nothing. Neither of these numbers alone guarantee that anyone is looking at or sharing your content at all.
The sanity metrics are those that will fill your funnel as shown below and these should be aligned with your business goals.
Know your funnel
Use tools to track what’s important
Once you’re happy with what you need to measure, you need the tools in place to do it. Things such as Google AdWords, Google Analytics and various social media platforms can all report the data behind your efforts and give you ammunition to keep improving.
Though fickle Fortune has deceived me,
She promis'd fair and perform'd but ill
- Fickle Fortune
- The 4 Types of Content Metrics that Matter - Convince & Convert
- Marketing Superstars Tell All: Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success - TopRank Blog
- 12 Important Content Marketing Metrics You Aren’t Measuring by Search Engine Journal
Here’s a quick recap of the 5 Ps of content marketing.
One - Plan
Identify your business goals, research your audience and competitors before developing marketing themes
Two - Produce
Research and create regular compelling content that aligns with your business goals and engages your target market
Three - Publish
Determine the best channels to distribute your content on for maximum engagement
Four - Promote
Identify and build relationships with the target influencers in your sector to amplify your reach
Five - Perform
Pick out the sanity metrics that will make a difference to your business and put the right measures in place to accurately track these.
As this article was inspired by Rabbie Burns, it’s only right he should have the final word:
Young Charlie Cochran was the sprout of an aik,
Bonie and bloomin' and straught was its make,
The sun took delight to shine for its sake,
And it will be the brag o' the forest yet.
- Lady Mary Ann