4 Lessons Pablo Escobar Can Teach You about Content Marketing


Pablo Escobar — probably not the first name that comes mind when you think about content marketing.

But coming from a man who built a 30 billion dollar empire, employed thousands of loyal employees, and ran one of the biggest and most efficient drug empires of all time, what we can learn from Pablo Escobar stretches far beyond his role as a drug kingpin.

In fact, there’s a lot more parallels between the infamous Medellin Cartel and a good content marketing strategy than you might think…

If you’re interested to know what the “King of Cocaine” can teach you about content marketing, we’ve compiled 6 lessons that you can learn from him today.

Pablo’s Content Marketing Lesson #1: Never Rely on a Single Distribution Channel

It doesn’t matter how many warehouses full of contraband you have if you don’t have a distribution network set up to get that product into the hands of users.

The same can be said about content.

It doesn’t matter if you spend two weeks crafting the perfect blog post and stuffing it with as much value you think is humanly possible if no one gets a chance to read it.

That’s why Pablo never relied on a single distribution channel — and nor should you.

A big mistake that rookie content marketers make is spending 99% of their time crafting their content, and 1% of their time focused on content distribution.

To fix this, focus on developing a network of websites, bloggers, and communities where you can regularly share and syndicate your content.

In the digital marketing niche, we use sites like:

Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s important to hustle to get your content in front of the right people in order to increase the likelihood of social sharing and engagement — something that can exponentially increase the reach and longevity of your content.

Pablo’s Content Marketing Lesson #2: 10X Your Competition

Other than his keen business acumen, Pablo was well known for another trait: his ruthlessness towards competitors.

But (thankfully) in the content world, you don’t need to actually bomb any of your competitors to get ahead.

In fact, a healthy amount of competition is welcomed. It means that there’s enough interest around the topics that you’re writing about, and it means that the problems you’re solving can be of value to a greater number of people.

What you can’t do, however, is create the same quality of content and expect to get ahead.

Much like Pablo’s men would have taken their competition by storm, you need to pack so much value into your content that your readers are instantly blown away.

This can be defined by 5 main areas:

  1. Length and depth of articles
  2. Actionable takeaways
  3. Additional resources (guides, printable PDF’s, checklists, tools)
  4. Writing style and readability
  5. Design

In order to 10X your competitor’s content, you’ll likely need to excel in all five of these areas.

Take a look at a 10X piece of content from Quicksprout on content marketing:

Not only is this guide keyword rich, it’s more in depth than competing articles, has actionable takeaways, and is meticulously designed.

I’m not suggesting that each and every one of your content pieces live up to the 10X rule, but if there’s a core part of your business that you want to rank for on Google or establish a certain level of thought leadership on, then there’s no replacement for 10X content.

Pablo’s Content Marketing Lesson #3: Establish Credibility

As a career criminal and underworld kingpin, you can bet that Pablo Escobar lived and died by the perception of his personal brand on the street.

That’s why it was completely unacceptable to tolerate insubordination amongst his ranks, why anyone who publicly doubted him had to be eliminated, and why he always made a point to live up to his word when he made a promise.

Likewise, as a content creator and representative of your company’s brand, you must ensure that you establish that same type of credibility within your industry.

But how do you do that?

Building brand trust and credibility can be broken into 4 main areas:

  1. Publishing a consistent stream of content on your blog
  2. Guest posting on relevant blogs and industry publications
  3. Actively engaging with readers on social media
  4. Starting a discussion around content

This is one tactic that isn’t possible to achieve success in overnight. After all, the key to building credibility isn’t one massive 10X article that’s left to collect dust after you publish it.

If you’re a keen on getting started building up your own brand’s credibility, start by seeking outlets to guest post.

A starting point is to search “[your industry] guest post” into Google. This is a great place to start to get ideas about where you can publish, what they’d be looking for, and how you can position your content creation for a particular site.

Pablo’s Content Marketing Lesson #4: Always Deliver the Goods

Say what you will about Pablo Escobar in terms of his business practices, propensity for violence, or overall ethics as a person. But what you cannot deny is the fact that he always delivered the goods, time and time again.

In fact he was almost obsessed with ensuring that his production facilities were designed to produce the highest grade narcotics they could manage.

After all, that’s what kept customers coming back for more.

Now I’m not telling you to put on a white jumpsuit and start working in a lab. What I am suggesting however, is that you dedicate the time to give people what they’re actually looking for when they consume your content: actionable advice and key takeaways.

This can be achieved through a number of different methods, most notably by providing:

  • Real life examples under each key point
  • Resources that users can use later (pdf’s, worksheets, templates)
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to achieve exactly what you’re talking about

Take a look at an actionable piece of content from an infographic on Brian Dean’s blog where he breaks down the anatomy of on-page SEO.

He could have simply listed all of the theoretical on-page factors in order to rank a page. But rather than taking the easy route he’s provided the exact instructions on how to wrap text, where to add media, and instructions on how to optimize a meta description for search.

No matter if you’re the boss of the underworld or a content creator, the rules are remain the same: always deliver the goods.

Putting Pablo’s Lessons into Action

You may never set foot on Colombian soil, or even watch the hit show Narco’s on Netflix (but you definitely should because it’s awesome). But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some key lessons that you can learn from the life and business of Pablo Escobar.

To recap those are:

  • Never rely on a single distribution channel
  • 10x your competition
  • Establish credibility
  • Always deliver the goods


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