The Big Lebowski is a 1998 movie classic. It’s a story about a case of mistaken identity, a kidnapping (or supposed kidnapping), a ransom exchange gone wrong and a whole lot of bowling. And drinking (White Russian’s baby!).
Now, I doubt the Coen brother’s had blogging or social media in mind when the film came out, but if you watch the movie enough times, and if you look close enough, there’s some unintentional blogging lessons you can pick up from the Dude himself. Here they are…
Lesson #1: Develop a unique personality and own it.
“Let me explain something to you, I am not Mr. Lebowski, you’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m ‘the Dude.’ So that’s what you call me, ya know. That or uh ‘his dudeness’ or uh, ‘duder,’ or uh you know, ‘el duderino’ if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
The Big Lebowski is and forever shall be known as “The Dude.” That’s who he is. That’s his name. That’s his brand. When someone utters those words, “The Dude,” people who are in the know recognize who we’re talking about.
If you have a persona online, you need to own it. Be like the Dude. Don a unique character. A personality. Then own it, day in and day out.
Lesson #2: Identify your target audience. Who can you serve best?
It’s like Lenin said. You look for the person who will benefit the most.
The millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski’s trophy wife is kidnapped and the would-be kidnappers are demanding a ransom. So the millionaire Lebowski commission’s the dude to deliver the ransom. Except, he (the Dude) is not entirely convinced she was kidnapped.
As he explains the situation to Walter (his best friend), he goes on to explain the situation and how he thinks she probably kidnapped herself.
The Dude: I figure it’s easy money. It’s all pretty harmless. She probably kidnapped herself.
Walter Sobchak: What do you mean, Dude?
The Dude: Rug pee-ers did not do this. Look at it. A young trophy wife marries this guy for money. She figures he isn’t giving her enough. You know, she owes money all over town.
Walter Sobchak: [redacted].
The Dude: It’s all a [redacted] fake, man. It’s like Lenin said. You look for the person who will benefit, and you know…
Wise words indeed, Dude.
What this means for you is, you need to look for the person who would benefit the most from your writing…from what you have to teach. Identify who that audience is, then focus on delivering highly relevant and highly useful content to that audience.
You can’t please everyone, all the time. But you can serve a specific audience, exceptionally well all of the time. And that’s a better way to build an audience.
Lesson #3: Keep your eyes on the prize.
All the dude ever wanted was his rug back. That really tied the room together.
This poor guy gets his rug stolen first by a case of mistaken identity. Then, when he gets a new rug (which he basically stole from the millionaire Lebowski), Maude Lebowski and her lacky break into the Dude’s apartment and knock him unconscious and steal his rug yet again.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Dude is later kidnapped by Jackie Treehorn and his thugs because he’s after the ransom money too. There, he’s drugged and harassed about the money. Before he passes out, he utters the phrase: “all the dude ever wanted was his rug back. That really tied the room together.”
Knocked unconscious, kidnapped, and threatened by castration the Dude never lost sight of his goal… He just wanted his damn rug back.
The lesson here is simple, always keep your eyes on the goal.
What specifically are your goals?
Who are you trying to reach?
What problem can you help solve?
How are you going to work on delivering a solution?
What do you need to do daily to move closer towards your goals?
Things might get tough, it might feel like you’re getting nowhere (especially when you’re just starting out). But keep working, keep building, and keep growing towards your end goal(s).
Lesson #4: Become a better teacher. Remember, teaching sells.
The million bucks was never in the briefcase. The briefcase was ******* empty man… You threw out a ringer for a ringer.
There’s a scene in the movie where Maude Lebowski and the Dude are having a post-coital conversation. The Dude learns that she hopes to conceive a child with the Dude but that she also doesn’t want him to have a part in the child’s upbringing. Then he also learns that despite appearances, her father (the “Millionaire” Jeffrey Lebowski) has no money of his own. Instead, it was Maude’s late mother who was the rich one and she left the money exclusively to the family charity.
It’s then that the Dude puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together and realizes what really happened. Bunny (the Millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski’s trophy wife) wasn’t kidnapped after all. He just used that as a pretense for ran embezzlement scheme in which he withdrew the ransom money from the family charity to keep for himself. He then gave the Dude an empty briefcase whom he set up to be the fall guy for the stolen money.
So what does the Dude do? He calls Walter and explains the whole situation to him, step by step until he gets it.
The lesson here is simple. If you want to become a better marketer, start by becoming a better teacher.
You’re a teacher when you write a helpful blog post that helps solve a problem for your audience.
You’re a teacher when you lead a webinar.
Ask yourself, what can I do to better serve my audience? Then, go out there and to just that.
Lesson #5: Deliver value or else!
Without the hostage there is no ransom.
Near the end of the movie, the would-be kidnappers put the Dude’s car on fire and confront him one last time for the ransom money. Except by now we know there is no ransom money and it was all a scam. Still, they’re demanding the million dollars.
The Dude: Well, they finally did it. They killed my [redacted] car.
Nihilist: Ve vant ze money, Lebowski.
Nihilist #2: Ja, uzzervize ve kill ze girl.
Nihilist #3: Ja, it seems you have forgotten our little deal, Lebowski.
The Dude: You don’t HAVE the [redacted] girl… We know you never did!
Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Nihilist: Ve don’t care. Ve still want ze money, Lebowski…
Walter Sobchak: [redacted].
The Dude: Cool it Walter.
Walter Sobchak: No, without a hostage, there is no ransom. That’s what ransom is. Those are the [freakin'] rules.
When it comes to blogging, there’s one little unwritten rule you need to stick to: You need to deliver value.
Without value, you’ll have no readers.
Without value, you’ll have no customers.
Those are the rules. Period.
By delivering exceptional value time and time again, through your blog posts, webinars and other content marketing efforts, you’re building trust with your readers. Trust (and value) always comes before the sale.
Building a blog and earning an audience doesn’t have to be difficult. Just stick to these lessons and you’re well on your way.
And the next time someone tells you, “you’re doing it wrong,” here’s a one liner you can give ‘em:
Yeah, well, that’s just like your opinion man.