I’m a huge Dune fan.
So when Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was announced, I was overjoyed. Even after I left the theater, it stayed with me. It’s a perfect adaptation of the books.
There are elements of the books that weren’t included, things we nerds can argue about while waiting for Part 2. There were intentional decisions on what to include, what to change and what to leave out. Yet even though it diverges slightly from the source material, it understands what makes the source great.
It’s been reported that Villeneuve read Dune when he was quite young. He’s been thinking about how to bring it to life for years, etching the themes into his brain, going over and back over them.
There’s a content marketing lesson in there for us. And it’s grounded in what one of my college speech instructors called reserve power.
Reserve Power: The Key to Content Marketing that Counts
I still remember the lecture.
My teacher was leaning on the lectern, hands on both sides, riffing off his source material. “Reserve power will make your speeches,” he said.
I learned that reserve power is simply the sum total of your research and thinking on your subject. That was his term — but I prefer to call it the power of perspective.
We had six-minute speeches all year. There was no way to totally unpack a subject in that time; to create an effective speech, you had to make really tough decisions on what to use.
That meant you had to have perspective. The amount of research that went into each speech far eclipsed the amount of time we’d speak. That information “held in reserve” gave our speeches the power they needed to be successful.
French composer Claude Debussy once said, “Music is the space between the notes.” Content marketers need to remember this: great content relies as much on what you choose not to say as what you say. That’s what the power of perspective gives you.
The Power of Perspective
That power of perspective doesn’t come about automatically. It’s a product of time, thought and research.
Think about it — content created by a subject matter expert always clicks better than your generic, cranked-out, search engine blog posts. No one cares that GenericSEOFirm churned out another article about how to rank on Google, but when a noted SEO expert says “My new company doesn’t do SEO,” people sit up and take notice. It comes from a combination of experience and subject matter knowledge that you just can’t replace with search results.
One of the best-selling business books of the last century is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. “In preparing for this book, I read everything that I could find on the subject,” Carnegie said in his foreword. “In addition, I hired a trained researcher to spend one and a half years in various libraries reading everything I had missed … I recall that we read over one hundred biographies of Theodore Roosevelt alone. We were determined to spare no time, no expense, to uncover every practical idea that anyone had used throughout the ages for winning friends and influencing people. I personally interviewed scores of successful people … and tried to discover the techniques they used in human relations. From all this material I prepared a short talk …”
Carnegie’s “short talk” eventually became an hour and a half lecture, then morphed into its current iteration as a self-help book. Over 30 million volumes have been sold, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.
That’s what the power of perspective can do for you. Content is king — but you can’t write good content without context.
Content with Context
How does the power of perspective make your content better?
Avoid Red Herrings
Villeneuve’s Dune could have taken the time to explain every little detail in the (famously dense) novel. But it didn’t. The director knew exactly what needed to be included. When you get novices to create content, you wind up with a lot of time and energy spent on red herrings. Compare a professional athlete or musician with an amateur — the main difference between the two is economy of motion. They’ve figured out how to expend the least effort possible to arrive at the best outcome.
Perspective gives you the ability to find those economies, that power. Perspective lets you see the red herrings and avoid them. The result is you spend your time and effort on what really matters.
Find Important Points
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune leans into its iconic scenes — the gom jabbar, the spice crawler, the meeting with the Fremen. There’s a reason for that. Each of those high points is essential to our understanding of the world, and they grab the attention of the audience.
Every one of your pieces needs its own “gom jabbar scene” — a fact or insight that will stick with the reader long after they’ve finished. Before you start a piece, ask yourself: if my audience takes nothing else away from this, what do I want them to remember? Spend extra time getting that right.
The power of perspective lets you find and use those high points.
The ornithopter design for Dune is remarkable in its clarity and simplicity. It’s an original look at the iconic vehicle that doesn’t resemble what came before — and that comes from an understanding of the subject.
Original thought is anchored in the power of perspective. You can’t innovate without a deep understanding of your subject. You’ve heard the phrase “learn the rules so you can break them” before — that’s what the power of perspective does for you. Rules exist for a reason, but when you understand the “why,” you can step outside of them and innovate. Spend the time to build your knowledge and meditate on it. It makes all the difference.
Shallow is the Content Killer
The Internet is awash in shallow content and AI is making the creation of it easier every day. There are a ton of blogs and videos that only rehash the same points everyone else has already made, and they often repeat the mistakes of the people that came before.
Be different. Study — don’t just work. Spend your time immersing yourself in your subject and studying the masters of the craft. That will give you the power of perspective you need to create truly interesting original content, just as it did for Denis Villeneuve and Dune.
Use the power of perspective. And if you feel like you need help creating great content, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help.
Rainmaker Digital Services