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4 St. Patrick's Day marketing lessons
2016-03-28

There’s a brilliant book you should read that makes the case that the Irish helped bring the world out of the Dark Ages.
It’s an especially good read for St. Patrick's Day or if you have an Irish surname. You might think this book, titled “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” would cite William Butler Yeats, the Pogues and Guinness as the saviors of all that is civilized.

It doesn’t.

Instead, the book’s author, Thomas Cahill, argues that St. Patrick and the Irish he converted to Catholicism in the fifth century are the ones who saved Western Civilization.

In the book, Cahill paints a picture of the Roman Empire crumbling on the European continent, literacy dissipating and the great libraries turning to dust.

At the same time, on the isolated island of Ireland, the Catholic Church—initially shepherded by St. Patrick—had grown into a large flock led by St. Columba and his monks.

In the Irish monasteries, the monks copied the great Latin and Greek texts of antiquity. Safe from the chaos and conflagrations on the continent, these manuscripts endured and provided the cultural foundation that led to the rise of Medieval Europe and ultimately the Renaissance.

“How the Irish Saved Civilization” is a provocative read, and the story the book tells—as well as the story of how the book sells—offers four key lessons for marketers:

1. Speak to your audience’s best view of itself.

If you’re Irish—or even if your family came from that island eight generations ago—the title, “How the Irish Saved Civilization” is hard to resist.

The book was on The New York Times’ best-sellers list for two years, in part because it presents the Irish in the best possible light.

There’s a lesson here for marketers. If you create your content from the point of view that your prospects are smart, they will return the favor of also treating you with respect.

2. Think big.

When Cahill debuted “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” he knew the book was just the start. He envisioned it as the first entry in a series of books he called the “Hinges of History.” Each book in the series, which includes “The Gift of the Jews” and “Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter,” examines a group that altered the course of history.

Making big plans has paid off for Calhill, and content marketers can learn from this approach. When creating your content, aim to answer the big questions your customers and prospects are asking—questions that will catapult you to the top of search rankings and deliver SEO success.

3. Content is a change agent.

In “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” Cahill makes the case that the books the monks copied—such as the Book of Kells and “Confessions of St. Augustine”—helped preserve the knowledge that eventually created the Medieval mindset. That mindset helped civilization rise again.

Without these works, the ideas in them would have vanished in the mists of time. From this tale, marketers can see the power of content to change hearts and minds—especially those of influential social media users and decision makers.

RELATED: Learn the best new strategies for improving PR results, influence and value.

4. Make your message simple and visual.

It’s probably just a myth, but St. Patrick is said to have explained the mystery of the Trinity using the three-leaf clover, which are so plentiful in Ireland. The shamrock image is a simple and strong visual.

Whether it stemmed from St. Patrick or not, marketers should emulate this excellent example of communication. When spreading messages on social media platforms and mobile devices, marketing pros should think visually.

A strong visual on social networks and smartphones is the primary way to catch a prospect’s eye.

Sean Callahan is the senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn. A version of this article originally appeared on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog. You can subscribe to the blog here.

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Vivian Li

PR Manager

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