The Ramones’ Guide to Killer Content

Ramones

What could you possibly learn about killer online content from an old 70’s punk band consisting of three chords, four pinheads, and excessive Prince Valiant hair? The answer is: a whole bunch!

“Hey, Ho… let’s Go!” and “Gabba Gabba Hey!” are just two of the iconic chants the Ramones made famous when they exploded onto the scene in 1974.

During an era where rock n’ roll was under the heavy influence of psychedelic drugs, self-obsessed eccentricity, and ten-minute instrumental solos, the Ramones blew the music industry to bits with minimalistic, razor-sharp chainsaw riffs that changed rock n’ roll forever.

Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone grew up with classic rock, and none of them understood why all of a sudden you needed a degree from Juilliard to start a rock band.

The Ramones had a completely different approach to music – eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance.

Every song had to captivate the listener in a nanosecond, and every chorus had to be catchy and simple enough that the audience couldn’t resist singing along – even if they’d never heard the song before.

Throughout their 22-year career, the Ramones never lost focus on their fans, and every time they went on stage giving the audience an awesome experience was the priority.

See what I’m getting at?

The Ramones’ approach to writing music is perfectly applicable to online content and copy. Using their approach, you’ll have the perfect guide for getting down the basics of creating killer content every time:

  • Eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance – the heart and soul of the message you want to convey.
  • Write content that’ll captivate your audience in a nanosecond. Make every headline catchy and simple enough that your readers can’t help but read on.
  • Never lose focus on your audience! Giving your audience an awesome experience is your main priority.
  • Blow self-obsessed smug corporate communication to bits with razor-sharp relevant content.

That’s it. Quick and to the point… just like a Ramones’ tune. You’ve got the basics, now do like the Ramones and leave your mark on history.

About the Author: Michael Aagaard is something so rare as a serious Danish online copywriter. In fact, he has just launched the very first Danish blog dedicated to the fine art of online copywriting.

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Comments

  1. Hey! Great article. I’ve been finding that there are a lot of great principles about successful writing that you can find from non-writing sources. I’m starting to learn from movies and all kinds of things…and now bands.

  2. I never would have thought up that headline. But then again I’ve been having Shock Treatment for years. Outstanding connection Michael, and so, so true.

  3. Sometimes the best thing I learn from articles on Copyblogger isn’t what is taught, rather, it’s how it’s taught.

    Thank you, Michael. All the best with the blog!

  4. Great article. Beat on the corporate-speak brat with a baseball bat – oh yeah oh Yeah!
    Good luck with the blog – wish it was in English too.

  5. Yes its very important to make sure your content is up to scratch if it is your success rates will be truly amazing.

    kind regards

    sam
    X

  6. Thanx Michael, nice debut article.

    Ramones easily would have been “Headline Gurus” in copywriting industry in modern era.

    And about your danish blog: no english translation for it?

  7. I like to write longer posts because I like giving out as much information as possible on a particular topic but I found it hard in the beginning to be more concise when I write. My articles would run about 4500 words.

    Now that I got the hang of “Eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance – the heart and soul of the message you want to convey” as you suggested, I usually hang around 1700-3000.

    Thats a huge improvement and it is still a lot of info so my readers don’t get shorted.

    Thanks for the post!!

  8. The Ramones also help us with that all-important part that comes before you write anything: Be yourself, be true to yourself, and don’t give a damn what anybody else says.

  9. Can’t control my fingers, can’t control my brain . . . Thanks Michael!

  10. It’s really nice to read those 4 points but they are not that easily to be applied.

    I guess having the drive to think more of others and less of yourself, might get you somewhere. When the intention is pure it won’t sound too hard.

  11. Hey, did you steal my idea? ;)

    5 Copywriter Lessons From AC/DC:

    http://onlinemarketerblog.com/2008/07/5-copywriter-lessons-from-acdc/

    I smell a compilation e-book, my friend…

  12. I really enjoyed your article…I personally think the Ramones approach can be extended to any field…the only problem I see is to decide what’s important and what’s unnecesary.

  13. The Ramones are a great example for bloggers, considering they produced their Eponymous debut album for a mere $6,000, and blogs are so cheap to start.

  14. Like this?

    What could you possibly learn about killer online content from an old 70’s punk band?

    Every song had to captivate the listener in a nanosecond.

    Write content that’ll captivate your audience in a nanosecond!

  15. Let’s also put this in a context that the disco crowd of the 70s can relate to (even though I’m more in the Ramones camp): I read an interview w/ KC of KC and the Sunshine Band and he was talking about catchy song lyrics and song titles. Every song he ever wrote always included a repetition of the title in the lyrics many times throughout the song. Kind of like brain washing. You hear it so many times, the song and the title get embedded in your brain. Oh no, now I have “Get down tonight” stuck in my head!

  16. i think we could also learn a lot from Hip Hop and Eminem. Straight to the point. Not shy to speak his mind in his raps. and also catchy titles. They all catch your attention in nanosecond right?

  17. I am working with marketing in Denmark and is searching for inspiration in the digital world. Thanks for inspiration

  18. Brilliant point about writing with a “reader first” mindset, and ensure that their experience on our blogs works for them.

  19. This is so important. I started my blog from a very personal perspective, each entry describing my experience with the topic rather than getting straight to the point. This blog is helping me to be more concise and, I believe, a better blogger. Even this comment used to be about 15 words longer! :-)

  20. So true Momblebee! Can you say Michael Jackson? “Smooth Criminal, Bad, Billy Jean, Dirty Diana.” Just to name a few.

  21. There are two very famous bloggers doing quite well with this principle: Seth Godin and Leo Babuta of Zen Habits.

    I agree a 100%. Focus on your readers and Focus on your message to them. Elimanate the unessentials, Frank Lloyd Wright would approve.

    The challenge for those of us (me for sure) is to find the concise and meanful words that brings our message home.
    But then I would guess that is why many of us follow Copyblogger.

  22. “Ramones”, now that’s a blast from the past. Good article. Points well taken.

  23. impressive way to learn writing killer conten, thanks

  24. Well… according to Einstein, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Ramones are “simpler” while Sex Pistols are “simple”, so I would choose the Pistols. Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste. Perhaps I don’t want to write for diggers.

  25. Absolutely.

  26. Great pic in this one (The Ramones!)…

    I totally agree…. and after reading this article I now have one of their tunes stuck in my head!!

    ;-)

  27. Great post, I think we can all learn something from this. Simplicity is the key and I think writers feel they need to show their talent through the words they know, not how they are put together.
    Thanks for this Michael.

  28. Mike,

    great post. I love it when it’s short and to the point. Just like copywriting – don’t try to make your copy long, make it AS LONG AS IT SUPPOSED to be.

    Igor

  29. Absolutely ‘to-the-point’. It all starts with the blog title. Statistics teach us that most of the bounces, about 80%, happens when the visitor reads the title of the post. In addition to razor-sharp content, an intriguing title is important.

  30. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one picking business ideas from other forms of media. Good stuff. There is another band that I’m a huge fan of. They are called Rammstein and they have always made fairly simple music and were always for the fans. Great post.

    ~Chris

  31. Great article about two of my fave topics! Wish I’d written it!

  32. I wanna B sedated… every time I read an SEO or a politician give a one page of crap answer for a yes or no question. But for a blog post or a page of content there is a minimum of text too. Like your blog post was around 350 words. I like blog posts that are quick like a Ramones tune without lots of extra fluff, but long enough and interesting enough to be meaningful. Excellent point.

  33. great. article. thanks.

  34. This is so true! Great post

  35. How cool! I began in the media world as an entertainment journalist and it’s so true that the Ramones took the rock world, which had become so bloated and over-produced, back to its roots. The superfluous was deleted. It was raw. It was fast. It was rock and roll. And, as you say, there is a real lesson in communication there. The Ramones connected and communicated with their listeners. Fast forward many moons and although I still write some journalism, I server as PR consultant. My credo there is that less is definitely more. Find the story, deliver it and move on.

  36. Perhaps easier said than done!

  37. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
    I Wanna Be Sedated
    We Want The Airwaves

    Blog frequency, keyword strategies and other SEO tactics have created a false illusion of what online brand marketing is all about. In the end, quality content is what will attract, engage and influence a target market.

    Rock ‘n’ Roll High School for the non-marketers.

  38. Alright, so all your telling us to get to get to the basics and “cut off the fat” to leave the lean content.

  39. Yes and more importantly – focus on your audience and their needs and desires. You’re writing for their sake and not for the sake of inflating your own ego. It might sound really obvious, but in a world packed to the bursting point with corporate speak and smug selfobsession, it’s an important and valuable lesson.

  40. Make the Pregnant Woman Shut Up! is a subheading to my most recent post.

    I’m not sure how well this works, but I like taking parts of my story or post that only have a small significance in the writing and make them a part of the headline to intrigue readers to find out the meaning.

    The pregnant lady was only one sentence of the post, but, in my opinion, it stirs curiosity to find out how it fits into the story.

    Thoughts? Thanks!
    Pete | The Tango Notebook

  41. yeah, give the audience or the readers’ priority. It’s like “customers’ first policy.”

    Rock and Roll!

  42. Loving the Ramones reference!

  43. Great article. Using the Ramones caught my attention from the start. Nice simple message and straight to point – a great message to take away.

  44. This article is very good. It gives me some ideas to my own writting. Keep it simple and straight to the point.

    Thank you :-)