5 Content Marketing Lessons from Eddie Izzard

Oct 2013

gaorkgthOne time when I was working (and working and working) for an ad agency, my colleagues beganpassing around a DVD by some British comedian I’d never heard of. “He’s brilliant,” they said. “You’ll laugh your a** off,” they promised.

So when my turn came around, I slipped the well-worn copy of Dress to Kill into my purse and brought it home to check this fellow out, thoroughly prepared for the disappointment that so often follows such a big buildup.

Not only was I not disappointed. I was overwhelmed. 

Ever since then I’ve numbered myself among Eddie Izzard’s most enthusiastic fans. Fast-forward to the summer of 2013, when, thanks to our new Netflix membership, I was able to check out the documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story.

As I watched this highly engaging account of Mr. Izzard’s life, I couldn’t help but identify some key connections to (surprise!) our journey as content marketers. For instance:

1. However long you think it’s going to take for you to “make it,” double that.

At first glance, Eddie Izzard may have seemed to be an overnight sensation. Actually, his path to comedic stardom was about as “overnight” as a glacial advance. It was a long, grueling slog fraught with disappointments, during which the only thing that kept Eddie going was … Eddie.

Takeaway for Content Marketers: A few dozen blog posts and a smattering of YouTube videos do not a successful content marketing program make. So settle in, get comfortable and prepare yourself for the long, long road that’s stretched out in front of you.

2. Always be reaching.

When Eddie made the leap from standup comedy to acting in 1996 with The Secret Agent, one of his peers quipped “Why be a so-so actor when you’re a brilliant comedian?”

His response? “Because once I was a so-so comedian.”

Takeaway for Content Marketers: Don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and try a different direction or approach. If it doesn’t work out, at least you gave it a shot.

hngnzxdf3. Be yourself.

Eddie Izzard came out as a transvestite years before he became famous, and his edgy look has become a signature feature of his standup performances.

In Believe, one of Izzard’s peers remarked that most comedians go out on stage in whatever they happen to be wearing that day, but “Eddie goes out there looking like Madonna.”

Takeaway for Content Marketers: Whatever it is that makes your business unique (also known as “odd,” “weird,” “strange,” etc.) is also what makes you memorable, and your content needs to celebrate it.

4. Resist temptation to follow the crowd.

Every comedian talks about sex. Every comedian talks about relationships. Every comedian talks about crazy families. Every comedian, that is, except Eddie Izzard.

On the other hand, I can’t recall any comedian ever building a bit around what the Spanish Inquisition would look like if it were a Church of England thing. It’s that kind of nerdy irreverence that has made Mr. Izzard a superstar among those who get him.

Takeaway for Content Marketers: Don’t let your interest in “best practices” devolve into mimicry. If you do what everybody else is doing, why does your audience need you?

5. Keep your supporters close.

One of the most touching revelations from Believe is the close relationship between the comedian and his dad, Harold Izzard. No matter where the touring schedule takes him, Eddie talks to his dad by phone regularly, and the elder Izzard is a frequent audience member at his son’s performances.

Takeaway for Content Marketers: As your content marketing program progresses, you’ll start building a tribe of fan-advocates who would gladly spend their last breath telling the world how wonderful your content is. Keep these folks close, show your appreciation on a regular basis … and be sure to remember them after you’ve made it big.

What are your thoughts on these “Izzardian” lessons for content marketers? Tell us about it in the comments—we’d love to hear from you!

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 About the Author

Rachel has answerA self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business.

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