Six things content writers and marketers can learn from Robert Burns

As the national poet of Scotland and one of the most famous lyricists to ever live, Robert Burns continues to influence Scottish literature to this day. But can content writers and marketers learn from The Bard? Well, to put it simply, aye, we can.

Burns’ poetry and songs, including Tam o’ Shanter and Auld Lang Syne, have inspired millions of would-be poets and writers across the world. And as we prepare to celebrate his memory on 25 January, here are six things that content marketers (and indeed any writers) can learn from the great man.

Be a man (or a woman) with a plan

Burns might have said the following in one of his most famous poems, To a Mouse:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any plans at all. Before you embark on your content marketing journey, it’s important to develop a long-term strategy.

Define your purpose, identify audience personas, set meaningful objectives, look at measurement metrics and develop an in-depth editorial calendar.

Otherwise, you might just be left with nought but grief an’ pain.

Take in your surroundings

Burns’ work was mainly inspired by Scotland’s beauty, history and traditions. But he also got some of his ideas from his travels, cultural issues and politics, not to mention the countless lassies in his life.

Like Burns, you have to be aware of what’s going on around you and react to the latest news and events in your industry or your clients’ industries.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel

As well as creating his own songs and poems, Burns collected many traditional folk songs on his travels and revised and adapted them.

Sometimes, especially in this increasingly crowded digital age, it can be difficult to come up with fresh ideas on a weekly (or daily) basis.

So don’t be afraid to repurpose your content, reflect on influencers’ work or react to the latest news stories. No matter what others may tell you, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

Burns began his career as a poet writing for a local audience in Ayrshire, and rather than simply writing about his own passions and beliefs, he wrote about topics he knew would appeal to his audience.

This may just be common sense, but like Burns, you should always put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re writing for. What are they interested in? What would they like to know? What do they enjoy?

By putting yourself in their shoes, you can go ahead and confidently create content that you know they will genuinely find informative, helpful or entertaining.

Be adaptable

So we know that we should always write with our audience in mind, but for many content marketers and copywriters, we have to deal with various audiences. That’s why we need to be adaptable – just like the man himself.

Burns’ songs and poetry could be romantic and sincere, but also humorous and somewhat suggestive. And his diversity wasn’t just limited to his work.

In his personal life, which has been well documented, Burns successfully adapted to any company or situation with wit and charm. But that doesn’t mean you need to take any pointers from his, ahem, illustrious lifestyle.

Never stop learning

Burns not only wrote songs and poems, but collected and studied them. He was a keen reader, so much so that one woman once exclaimed:

That’s surely no a good man, for he has aye a book in his hand!

To be the best that you can, never stop reading and learning. After all, if any proof were needed that having a book in your hand is indeed good for a man (or woman), it’s Robert Burns.

Do you think content marketers and writers can learn from Rabbie Burns? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below – and if you enjoyed reading it, feel free to share it with your online community.

Once you’ve done so, join me in raising a glass to the immortal memory of Robert Burns.

  1. Cover photo courtesy of KitAy under CC BY 2.0
  2. Photo courtesy of Henry Hemming under CC BY 2.0
  3. Photo courtesy of The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle under CC BY 2.0

Originally appeared on LinkedIn on January 24 2015.

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