Content Marketing Lessons From the Honey Badger: Bee Stings and Snake Venom? “He Doesn’t Care”

By August 26, 2013June 29th, 2015Writing & Content Marketing
Content Marketing Lessons From the Honey Badger: Bee Stings and Snake Venom? "He Doesn't Care"

I saw a funny video recently about the African honey badger. The sheer determination and laser focus of this animal—which I had never even heard of—is impressive. Warning: Not for the squeamish or those offended by profanity.

Like hunting, content marketing is a process that takes time to excel at. Success requires strong writing skills and perseverance.

If you want to be exceptional with the written word, to regularly produce prose that’s not just informative but captivating, you’ll need to copy the honey badger. How?

One, Read Widely And Voraciously.

You need to need to ingest words as the honey badger attacks its prey, in a wide-ranging, catholic effort, meaning “of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive.” You cannot develop an ear for what sounds good without steeping yourself in the written word.

The honey badger takes nourishment wherever it can find it. Likewise, don’t think you must read [insert name of writer whose work you find incomprensible here] to be a better writer. But you must expose yourself to writers and thinkers who are more advanced than you.

Two, Don’t Run From The Inevitable Stings You’ll Receive.

Go after the honey regardless of the attacking bees. Nobody enjoys being critiqued or rejected, but you’ll need to work with people who are better than you and can see problems you’re oblivious to.

Getting detailed criticism and corrections and then incorporating them into your work can only improve it. Not from people who are close to you, who can be helpful for proofreading but are probably unwilling and unable to deliver hard truths. Honest, constructive feedback is rare from people who aren’t paid to give it, because nobody really welcomes it. To be edited is to be corrected, which is not something most of us find, well, rewarding. But it’s the only route to the sweet honey of success, so try to put your ego aside.

Three, Be Persistent And Dedicated To Your Goal.

When the honey badger is bitten by the cobra, he doesn’t flee. Incredibly, he persists with his kill, is knocked out temporarily by the venom, but then revives and finishes his meal. That’s how resilient you need to be. The slow, sometimes painful process of rewriting is the most efficient way to hone your skills. When you rewrite, you are forced to reconsider your original thoughts and work through problems and inconsistencies. You develop new strengths.

Conversely, if you get in the habit of putting something difficult aside, you will stay at the same level. It’s like the old joke:

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.

All talent needs sharpening, whether it’s on the basketball court, the recording studio or the printed page. Nobody is born a skilled writer. Some may be natural storytellers, but translating a story in your head into the right words is challenging. As many a celebrated writer has lamented, many ideas don’t translate precisely from the sublime brilliance of one’s imagination to actual words, which can seem clumsy and inadequate.

The idea that some are simply born with talent that allows them to effortlessly excel has also been disproved by research. Overnight success is a myth. Malcolm Gladwell, in the bestselling Outliers, described Anders Ericsson’s work showing an average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are needed to reach expert level, even with inborn ability. Genetics may give a person an edge, but we do know that practice is essential.

Start today.

Do you have any advice on improving your content marketing or writing skills? Let us know in the comments below.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Jason Diller says:

    Nice post. We love honey badger content.

    Cheers

    • linda rastelli says:

      Thanks, I hear Randall’s getting an Animal planet show now. Should be fun to watch!

  • Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Linda,

    How surprised I was to see your title when it had the term content marketing in my title as well this week.

    What a great analogy to have taken the example of the honey badger, that’s really great. Incredible how this little guy goes unconscious and then wakes up again. What a tough dude, I’ve got to use him as an example one of these days too.

    Yep we need to be strong and persistent like the honey badger in our business. We need to go ahead and take on the difficult tasks, the shame and all of it, like the him, and come out victorious like him too.

    Great fun post.

    • linda rastelli says:

      Thanks for pointing out that these lessons are applicable to many other business endeavors, not just content writing, my area. Persistence can make the difference between success and failure.

  • Well, the honey badger is a new one for me. It kind of looks like a skunk with attitude! I liked the analogy though. I also liked the Carnegie Hall reference and you’re right it does take persistence and practice if you want to get ahead.

  • Hey Linda,

    Loved how you compared content marketing to the efforts of a honey badger. The badger is truly someone to learn from:D

    Agree with you points.

    1) We need to be willing to learn – read books (from all genres), read other blogs and read anything you can find. We often get ideas from places we least expect.

    2) Indeed. Be persistent. Learn from our critiques, improve upon our mistakes 🙂

    3) Never say never. Always try harder. And, remember to know when to quit (there are times in which we need to quit; we don’t want to waste too much resources with a particular effort).

    I would also add experimenting to the list 😀 It goes along with hard work and persistence; helps you to identify better ways to achieve the same goal.

    Anyways, thank you for the post!

    • linda rastelli says:

      Yes, experimenting is a great one! This post, actually, was an experiment that I wasn’t sure would work until I finished writing it. Thanks for the suggestion.