Monday, October 5, 2015

Heavy Metal Passion Beats in the Heart of Content Marketing

If you’re into rock and heavy metal concerts, the following excerpt will make total sense to you. If not, keep reading. It’ll all make sense soon.

As I wiped the dirty sweat and blood from my eyes and brow, I gazed around at the rest of the moshers in the pit with whom I’d shared the last forty-five minutes of physical chaos, forever bonding with those who also beamed with pride and sonic satisfaction….We looked like we had emerged from the trenches of a desert war, having just survived a fury of colliding bodies and flailing limbs, animated by the sounds of Black Label Society. Our union was much more than that of ordinary fans. We were Berserkers.
-       Eric Hendrikx, “Bringing Metal to the Children”

Ok, that may scare some of you (not guys like Jason Miller, Mike Hale and Mael Roth!) and it may be a bit of an extreme vision, but I use it to illustrate the passion of heavy metal fans. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society have their Berserkers. Aerosmith has their Blue Army, Kiss’s Kiss Army, Sammy Hagar’s Redheads, Grateful Dead’s Deadheads, Jimmy Buffet’s Parrotheads … we like our armies and heads.

I’ve met many people at concerts and standing in line for hours to get tickets. (Remember camping out overnight to get concert tickets?) Complete strangers with diverse backgrounds, we’d talk for hours to pass the time. The heavy metal community is accepting of all. In fact, a recent study by the International Society of Self and Identity shows that those who were heavy metal fans growing up “were significantly happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college age youth comparison groups.” This is due to the sense of being included in the heavy metal community and having people who understand you and what you’re going through growing up.

Where am I going with this? Rock stars have fans…not exactly a news flash. Well, think about it without the reference to heavy metal. Does it sound familiar? Especially if you were at Content Marketing World, it should. The content marketing community is very similar to the heavy metal community. Here's why both are incredibly strong and supportive groups. 

We Are the Outcasts and Rebels 

Heavy metal fans have always had the stereotype of being the outcasts who rebel against authority. There’s an air of danger, evil and trouble. We don’t fall in line with the accepted norms. In most cases, these perceptions were based on face value without taking the time to understand us or the music.

In content marketing, we’re also looked at as the outcasts of the marketing industry who cause trouble with different thinking. “Authority” figures don’t understand content marketing, so they dismiss it without actually learning how it might just benefit them. It doesn’t fall in line with traditional marketing tactics, so it’s ignored or barely supported.

We Share a Bond With Others In Our Community

Heavy metal fans share a bond through the love of the music. We’ll strike up conversations easily because we can relate to the music. We share different stories about our favorite bands, concerts we’ve been through, and even life experiences where music played a role.

Content marketers share the same type of bond for our love of content marketing. We might call it “networking”, but we can quickly find commonality in our struggle to implement content marketing and issues we deal with. We share stories of strategies that worked for us, how we try to influence our bosses and executive teams, and genuinely try to help each other succeed.

We Spread Our Message to Anyone Who Will Listen

There’s nothing heavy metal fans like better than to turn someone on to a band they love. Music is meant to be shared. These days, it’s easier with social media and digital music. Years ago, you’d vote for your favorite video on MTV (remember when they showed videos?) and record tapes for your friends to check out a new band.

As content marketers, we share articles and blog posts. We tell everyone we can about our favorite books and podcasts. We support thought leaders by sharing their content and by creating content based on their thoughts.

We Flock to See Them in Person

When we hear our favorite band is playing in our town, we rush to get tickets. For those two hours or so, you’re locked into the band. It always ends before you want it to, as you know they won’t be back for at least a year, maybe two, maybe never (catch every farewell tour you can).

Most of us are only able to go to one marketing conference per year. We find the one that we think is the best (in my case, Content Marketing World here in Cleveland!). I look at conferences more like festivals because you get a collection of the best speakers at one time in one place. Think of Content Marketing World as Woodstock, only they’re able to do it bigger and better every year. Instead of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker, we have Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, Ann Handley and Scott Stratten. As a result, people come to Cleveland from all over…more than 50 countries this year!

We Dress For the Occasion

Heavy metal shows are a sea of jeans (how Aerosmith’s Blue Army got its name), rock T-shirts, and maybe a little leather. Even now that many of us are older (a little…), we have our concert gear.

For Content Marketing World, there’s just one word: orange. Thanks to Joe Pulizzi’s love of all things orange, we all don our favorite orange items…all the way down to our shoes in some cases. I always wonder what the average Clevelander thinks when they see so many people wearing orange for 2-3 days in September, especially when it doesn’t say “Cleveland Browns” on it anywhere.
Well, there it is. We, content marketers, are our own community. An incredibly strong, supportive fraternity that is doing great things. One worthy of a name. The Orange Army? That seems a little too easy. CM Heads? It rhymes…kind of. What do you think? We need something that will stick and, just like the term “content marketing,” will define and unify who we are! I can’t wait to hear your suggestions! Tell us below.

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Image Sources: BenThereDoneThath via Flickr (license CC 2.0)
Keami Hepburn via Flickr (license CC 2.0)
SunriserJay via Flickr (license CC 2.0)


  1. Hey Jeff,

    Dammit, you kinda wrote the post I have been thinking about for months now ^^ Actually not quite, I wanted to write a post like "what brands can learn from heavy metal bands" but anyway...

    I think your analogies are spot on and I can totally relate! I identify myself very strongly with metal (leaving "heavy" out on purpose, because it can be regarded as a subgenre) so... thank you!

    I don't know if you are aware of this post for which I asked for Robert's and Jason's input :=) The cover image clearly indicates my preferred genre ^^

    1. Thanks for checking it out, Mael! I've read your post (love it!) which made me think of you when I was writing this one.

    2. Like I said on Twitter, dorry I greeted you with Jeff, Jeremy ^^ It was late and my brain was confused :p

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