4 Content Marketing Lessons Bob Ross’ “Happy Little Trees” Can Teach You

People who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s can’t possibly not know who Bob Ross is. His trademark afro hair and his “happy little trees” were all the rage, turning the “Joy of Painting” show into an internet sensation for more than 20 years.

As a matter of fact, Bob Ross’ channel is still growing, with 60,000 new subscribers this month alone, according to the statistics below:


Would that kind of growth ever be possible without building a personal brand through content marketing? The answer would be no. Creating a personal, engaging, and recognizable brand takes a lot of time and effort and, of course, some top-notch content marketing that will enable prospects to set you apart from competitors in your niche.

So, let’s see what the evolution of Bob Ross’ personal brand can teach marketers and entrepreneurs alike about content marketing.

Consistent Efforts Create Masterpieces

Bob Ross’ efforts were consistent, to the point where all viewers can recognize one of his paintings in this day and age. As marketers, this is the type of consistency we need in our lives.

Your brand needs consistent efforts in terms of content: your digital marketing content, your visuals, your email copy, everything needs to be synced up and ready to portray your brand’s values in a manner that will be clear and, most of all, relatable.

Being consistent can create a memorable brand that people will relate to, remember, and, eventually, trust. After all, a unique tone of voice and consistent content create trust between brands and their prospects.


The statistic above doesn’t lie. Almost half of the consumers who took the survey mentioned that they would unfollow a brand from social media because of irrelevant content.

If you take a look at “The Joy of Painting”, you will see a pattern emerge:

  • There’s the same recognizable tune playing.
  • The relaxed look and feel is there in all videos.
  • Bob Ross even uses the same tone to explain his painting technique.

Make sure to be authentic, coherent, and find a way to establish that unique connection with your brand’s audience and its prospects. Consistent content will, all in all, make a prospect feel like they know you.

The Happy Little USP

One of the most characteristic things about Bob Ross’ show – and one that has stuck with me to this day – is how happy and soothing it was. From the way he presented his ideas to the painting itself, Bob Ross seemed to have a way to urge his audience to aim for happiness.

In other words: His brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) was not educational. The videos are not there to decode painting techniques. The USP aimed to use the painting as a medium to create an emotional response – in this case, happiness.

So, the first content marketing lesson you can learn from Bob Ross’ “Happy Little Trees” is to look for an emotional response that goes well with your USP.

Your USP is what will set you apart from the competition and will, essentially, pinpoint all the reasons why a prospect should pick your brand or product. All in all, your USP needs to answer one question: Why you?

This question needs to be answered in a way that elicits an emotional response. This will help prospects form a real connection with you.

The answer to this question needs to be the core, around which you will base your content and writing style and build your visuals. Never forget that the value of your content is the value of your USP and vice-versa.

The Joy of Trial, Error, and Proper Tools

Of course, you remember the quote below:

This was, and is, oh so true. A marketer may try their best, analyze every little detail, and create the best content the world has ever seen, and their results may still not be what they were aiming for. This is especially true when it comes to content marketing.

Everything in content marketing – and marketing in general – is trial and error. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to leave things to chance. This is where proper tools and techniques can be very handy.

The first thing you’ll need to do would be to invest in an analytics tool and segment your audience into smaller bits and pieces that will allow you to understand their wants and needs better.

If you’re only just starting, find the biggest competitor in the most profitable niches that can correlate with your product or service, and take a good look at their audience. What are their likes and dislikes? What do they want? Ultimately, what need would your product cover that your competitors can’t?

Create content for your social media platforms that will urge your potential customers to answer those questions. You can create interactive quizzes that will gather data for you. Then, create segments that will make sense and give you some actionable tips on creating your content.

A little segmentation and personalization can go a long way and can be done as accurately as ever if you use the right tools. Invest in some AI and machine learning tools that will help you create segments that will interact with your prospects on a one-on-one basis.

That way, your content marketing and your marketing messages will be personalized and have a tailor-made look and feel. What is more, the appropriate toolset will allow you to make educated, data-driven decisions.

This will mean that your “happy accidents” may lead you somewhere after all. At worst, you’ll be able to jump right back up and continue right where you left off.

Keep the Audience Satisfied

There are many ways to achieve the statement above, but I am going to talk about the following three: expertise, innovation, benefits.

On Expertise

Bob Ross didn’t do something that was new or compelling. He didn’t do something that didn’t exist on the television at that time. He didn’t even demonstrate a technique that was unique or unheard of.

But what did he do? He took an already existing technique called “wet on wet” and presented it with a twist – or, one would say, his USP of happiness, as mentioned above.

The difference was all in his style, voice, and the delivery of his content. See where I’m going with this?

You don’t need to re-invent the wheel for your brand to achieve the content marketing status of your dreams. The best thing to do would be to create a plan and a clear and concise way to communicate it to the general public.

Create content that will aim to visually communicate your brand’s values, as well as verbally, in a way that will reach both the audiences in your niche and their circle, should they suggest your brand to a loved one.

On Innovation

If there is seemingly no content style that will perfectly express your niche and your product’s value, be proactive and create it. Nobody says that you can’t do it.

Be innovative, create content that will engage, and make infographics that will portray exactly what your brand is about, with carefully picked colors that will perfectly express your visual identity.

If your audience is all about blog posts that are broken down into parts, create some, and post them on your social media. That way, you will bring some much-needed traffic to your website and blog.

If your audience can’t get enough of your emails, invest in an email builder that will allow you to portray your content the way you want to, all the while generating a better conversion rate.

Don’t forget to use all digital arrows in your quiver – if digital is, of course, what you aim for – and don’t be afraid to try new content ideas while using tools that are guaranteed to work.

On Benefits

Why would I open your email? Why would I take a second look at your blog post?

When answered, these questions can help marketers understand why their audience would interact with their content and what the benefit from that interaction would be.

As a marketer, you know what your product can do for your prospects. But can you put it into words and images? The benefit of Bob Ross’ “Joy of Painting” was not the painting itself, but the enjoyable process of creating it. You know that because you were part of the audience.

So, think like the audience. Imagine that you have no idea what your product can do. Even better, imagine that you’ve only used this product once and want to tell a friend about it.

Would you text them? What would you tell them? What made you excited while using the product or service in question?

This element will engage your audience. Bob Ross used landscapes to express beauty and happiness. His visual content was built around this premise. What will yours be?

The Takeaway

Bob Ross was a legend in his own right. Authentic as could be, his show was less about talking and more about finding happiness in the little things.

If you think of that statement as the main purpose that your content needs to fulfill, you will understand that content marketing is not about fancy tools but about little details that make a huge difference.

Téa Liarokapi
Téa Liarokapi is a content writer working for email marketing software company Moosend and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas-and cats-to play with.