The Zodiac was an American serial killer who's identity remains unknown today.
The Zodiac’s reign of terror tormented the people of Northern California with a killing spree that culminated in the late Fall 1969 with the death of the last confirmed Zodiac victim, Paul Stine. Although, there is some evidence to suggest he probably continued through the early 70s before stopping abruptly.
Throughout the '60s and into the '70s, the Zodiac sent several letters to the press and detectives. Many of these letters were encoded with a cypher that could not be broken. Supposedly, they detailed crimes and victims to come.
Today, cracking the Zodiac's code remains a mystery. It is believed that the Zodiac's identity could be hidden amongst the symbols that make up the elusive code. But top professionals in cryptography have made little progress in revealing the truth behind the Zodiac killer.
In 2017, a show by the name of The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer aired on History channel bringing attention back to the haunting details of the case with intense focus on the Zodiac letters.
As human beings, we are mortified by the Zodiac killings. But as content marketers we want to know what about the Zodiac’s letters offers such timeless intrigue to people almost 50 years later?
5 Content Marketing Tips from the Zodiac Letters
Here’s the thing. I’m going to ask those questions. That’s the kind of blog you are reading. And if you want the answers keep going:
#1 Know Your Audience
At the core of content marketing is knowing your audience and anticipating their needs.
The Zodiac spread fear and confusion by sending letters and cyphers to the local press, a move he knew would get his riddles in the hands of detectives while also causing grave concern among the general public. A psychiatrist on the case called the Zodiac “brooding and isolated”, others thought his calculated tactics were that of a former military man.
In addition to cryptic letters detailing his desire to collect slaves for the afterlife, Zodiac also phoned police after a few of his crimes to let investigators know it was him and where to find the bodies of victims. All of that is to say, he was strategic about who he reached out to and why.
As content marketers, it’s important that we get in the head of our intended targets and create things that are timely and relevant.
#2 Finesse Your Style
When it comes to content, people want to be informed or entertained. In content marketing, if you want to stick out you have to find your style and wield it like a badge.
In the case of the Zodiac Letters, the killer used a symbol to inspire recognition and fear in the world around him. The telltale mark of the Zodiac is a circle with a cross going through it. Some victims recall seeing him wearing this symbol during attacks, and other times he would leave it at the crime scene by marking up an object in his path.
On his letters, over a dozen confirmed, he almost always included the symbol. He also frequently used a cypher. Always seemingly the same, the symbol-based code has not been cracked.
The Zodiac used branding to inspire fear and solidify his legacy as a horrific American serial killer. But content marketers should learn to effervesce their own flair for branding in the work they create.
#3 Create Content Without a Shelf Life
Make content that is timeless.
Of course, the Zodiac letters have etched their mark in American history as the code that couldn’t be cracked. One that might lead directly to the name or location of a prolific serial killer in the 1970s.
Sleuths today are still trying to break the case open by decoding the cryptic messages. Don’t believe me? Just ask Reddit.
And while making Reddit-worthy content may be an impossible task (marketers, you know what I mean) that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make relevant content that has a timeless appeal.
#4 Stand Out From the Crowd
The Zodiac letters tell about the killer, even without deciphering the code. We know he writes quickly and haphazardly, with a far right slant to his letters. His words go all over the page, like he’s getting ready to erupt and lose all control at any moment.
But his codes are quite the opposite, controlled and meticulous, with a possible link to military encryption.
We also know he desired media attention, and wanted to be notoriously feared. His desire for exposure and recognition made him stick out from most killers who try to steer clear of police and media.
When putting your best content forward, as a marketer you want to think differently from the competition. It’s important to write about things that are time and subject relevant, which might seem like you are constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses on topics.
But it’s equally important to approach them from an angle that the reader hasn’t experienced before, like I do at this very blog.
#5 Think About Maximum Exposure
From the beginning of his time as the Zodiac, this serial killer went for maximum exposure. His first letter was sent to three local news outlets for publication. He made sure to hit each newspaper that people in his target area were reading.
This had the effect of terrifying people and that fear was likely enjoyable for him. As was the recognition he received for committing heinous acts against humanity.
As content marketers it’s our job to deliver great content to our target market. In order to do so, we need to crave maximum exposure. That means using the resources to publish posts and share your blogs, building backlinks that drive people to your blog and guest posting on websites that will help you reach your market sector.
All of this takes time and isn’t a direct income generator. For marketers working for themselves, this can be frustrating. But taking the time to get exposure means generating passive income from your content in the form of more exposure to your blog.
The Zodiac Letters: Cracking the Code
The Zodiac letters remind people of the grief and terror left in the wake of a Zodiac era. To this day, the case has not been solved. No one knows his age, his locale or even how many lives he claimed.
There’s much left to learn about this prolific serial killer. The Zodiac letters are fascinating because they may hold the key to solving the whole thing.
But for those of us who wish to leave the solving to expert websleuths, there are still several takeaways from the Zodiac letters that we can apply to our everyday content marketing work-lives:
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