By: Valerie Nifora
Seth Godin said:
People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories, and magic.
Any good marketer will tell you that you can provide facts and figures in your campaigns, but the part that makes people remember, the “magic” as it were, lies in the story that you tell and the emotions that are called forth in that story.
But how can you strike your reader’s emotional strings when you run against word counts and character limits?
Here is where I will cross over to a passion of mine — poetry. While writing poetry and practicing my craft as a marketer, I noticed a common thread running through my passion and my work: Words matter.
In poetry, the words you choose must have a particular purpose. They must evoke a specific image and craft an emotion so delicately that they leave room for reflection and recollection. And, if done correctly, your message will stay memorable and stick.
Here’s a start.
Choose words with purpose.
Poetry requires the telling of a full story with fewer words than other forms of literature. Each word must be used to its utmost capacity. Its meaning must be precise, its sound exact. It must serve the purpose of the poem, earning its placement and momentum.
For example, in this poem I wrote and that was published in I Asked the Wind: A Collection of Romantic Poetry, I tried to simulate the sound of a clock ticking or a pendulum swinging so that the rhythm keeps in tempo.
Let the clock hand
Keep its time
Let its bell ring
Let it chime.
Let the moon face
Let it watch us
Close, my love.
It goes on a bit more, but you get the idea. I specifically chose the verb “let,” meaning “to allow” or “let it be,” because the poem is a statement about how time is irrelevant and incapable of altering the reality of love. So we should let it keep doing what it’s doing — it won’t matter to us. The number of syllables in each verse also follows a pattern. The beats stay consistent, like the sound of a clock.
Similarly, in our work, the words in a headline, for example, need to be precise so that a reader can determine the general meaning of the article that follows.
Spark images with words.
Poetry employs figures of speech like metaphor, simile, and personification. It draws forth the collective experiences and memories of the reader, forging an immediate and intimate connection. It requires the full engagement of cognitive skills as the reader “hears” the words while they read them, and calls forth images to allow the piece to resonate.
Shakespeare was a master of choosing words that evoked metaphors and images. My favorite sonnet of all is number 35, where he starts us with:
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
How can one not imagine a beautiful fountain spilling over, and therein the small sparkling splash of water droplets, the unfortunate spoiling presence of mud? And the idea of a stain — the stain of sin or trespass? Can you see the clouds obscuring the warmth of the sun? Or perhaps you envisioned that droplet from the water fountain staining your shirt?
Mental images evoked through writing can be incredibly powerful. In marketing, the images that we bring forth can spark inspiration, belief, and action.
Leave room for reflection.
When read, a poem may leave the reader in quiet contemplation. A good poem urges one to think, reflect, or remember. This ability to connect to a poem is what makes it memorable — and memorable is what we all strive for in our campaigns.
Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” begins with:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…
And finally concludes with:
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Who among us has not thought through our choices and wondered about the paths we’ve traveled? Choices made and not.
Marketing is an art. It’s a special honed craft that ultimately serves the customer (for poetry, the reader). Its practice requires diligence and patience.
Developing unforgettable copy can be transformative. Crafting poetry can be enlightening. Both require a good story that captures the heart.
Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. -Native American proverb
Valerie Nifora is the Senior Marketing Manager for Accenture.
Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.