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  • Julie Levitch

An Ode to Epic Content

When it comes to rock and roll, there are those epic songs that continue to rule classic rock radio. “Stairway to Heaven,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Hey Jude” come to mind. C’mon, you probably know at least some (if not all) the lyrics to a few of these masterpieces. “Freebird," anyone?

Besides being among the most memorable tunes of all time, as well as great karaoke choices, these songs share one thing in common. They’re really, really long—far surpassing FM’s standard, three-minute mark. One of my favorites—“November Rain” from Guns N' Roses was originally 25 minutes long but was eventually edited down to eight minutes 59 seconds. It’s still the longest ever Top 10 hit with the longest guitar solo in a Top 10 single.

But not all lengthy rock songs have fared well. Most have become obscure tracks on the dusty shelves of LP collectors, getting little to no radio play. So, what did Queen, Led Zeppelin, and other rock legends understand about creating truly epic songs that could stand the test of time?

Longer songs required greater focus.

Consider Iron Butterfly’s 17-minute classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, featuring a whopping, two-and-a-half minute drum solo. This one song is an entire side of an LP, but it seamlessly knits together lyrics and melody to tell a cohesive, consistent story. As a listener, you stick with it through the pounding rhythm and hypnotic chord structures. Meanwhile, the lyrics are a simple love song from Adam to Eve—hence the title derived from “In the Garden of Eden”.

You’re probably asking what the heck does any of this have to do with b2b content? Quite a bit, actually. Epic rock songs provide an excellent lesson to content marketers when it comes to creating long-form collateral, such as ebooks, white papers, and customer stories.

Lengthy pieces can be some of your most high-performing, long-lasting assets in your organization’s content arsenal. But it takes real focus and expertise to create a compelling story with a consistent message that hooks readers’ attention and, more importantly, keeps them interested. In other words, it’s about staying focused.

The goal in content creation should never be to create something long. It’s vital to be respectful of customers’ and prospects’ limited time and attention span. However, if it requires substantial length to tell a focused story that truly informs, influences, and motivates, you might have the beginnings of your next epic piece of content.

Short-form content like blog posts and promo videos will always go down easy—not unlike a three-minute pop song. But there is undeniably still a place for that epic masterpiece that captures a reader’s attention and takes them on a winding, unexpected journey to new ways of thinking.

Rock on!

Song of the Day: November Rain, Guns N' Roses

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