His wacky rhymes have been embraced by generations of kiddos — but what can content marketers learn from the one and only Dr. Seuss?
After reading ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ to my kids for the 400th time last night, it dawned on me: Dr. Seuss’ content strategy was on point.
Was he alive today, Theodor Seuss Geisel (as us superfans know him) could easily run his own content agency. Here are seven lessons Dr. Seuss can teach us about creating successful content.
1. Know your audience.
Half the battle of content marketing is having an understanding of what your audience is looking for. Dr. Seuss has this down — his books are full of bizarre characters his little listeners want to read about over and over again.
2. Write with imagination.
Thing 1 and Thing 2, Sam-I-Am and Horton aren’t characters you’d meet every day. Yet they strike a chord with their audience. A crazy hat-wearing cat that comes to entertain you on a rainy day? A book all about a character refusing to eat a salty, protein-heavy meal? Yes, please, say thousands of kids.
3. Be concise.
Get to the point! If you want people to actually read them, keep your words brief. In both digital and print copy, subheads, bullet points and call-out facts are much preferable to large chunks of text. Dr. Seuss used short words, simple rhymes and snappy sentences to deliver his message.
And don’t mistake his brevity for laziness. As many writers will tell you, writing isn’t the hard part — editing is. It took Dr. Seuss nine months to finish ‘The Cat in the Hat.’ Nine months!
4. Keep it simple.
One of the best things about Dr. Seuss? His books are simple. No meandering dream sequences or multi-layered characters. When it comes to your company's content, think Hemingway, not Joyce. Content marketing is a long-term strategy, but a simple one designed to continually bring your message to your audience. Be repetitive but direct — two things Dr. Seuss was a pro at.
5. Have a clear tone of voice.
There’s no arguing Dr. Seuss had a strong tone of voice — his matter-of-fact sentences and quirky rhythms are instantly recognizable. Just as you’d spend time working with expert designers on a rebrand, take the time to craft tone of voice guidelines to ensure your organization speaks with one consistent voice.
6. Don’t be afraid to break the rules
Part of what makes Dr. Seuss’ prose so distinct is his clever use of the English language. And by clever, I mean incorrect. He broke rules! He made up words (“floob-boober-bab-boober-bubs”). He played with sentence structure and believed that there’s nothing a hyphen couldn’t solve (“Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find, for a mind maker-upper to make up his mind”).
OK, don’t throw all proper writing conventions out the window. But understand that rule-breaking, when done sparingly, is fine.
7. Be memorable.
Much as we might wish them gone, it’s impossible to get those legendary Dr. Seuss rhymes out of our heads. They last the test of time, something you want your company’s key messages to do. Think you don’t want green eggs and ham? Doesn’t matter — you’ll have them on the brain whether you like it or not!
There’s no doubt about it, Dr. Seuss’ style and tone show a deep understanding of content, audience and messaging.
Now, if you’ve understood, wouldn't it be good to apply these lessons to your work? Then, you should!
(See what I did there?)