I spend a lot of time thinking about Shakespeare, like everyone does, I’m sure. With the 400th anniversary of his death just a few days in our memory, let’s consider the man who arguably shaped the English language more so than any other one person.
Shakespeare was a lover of language, a brilliant writer and a creative genius. He came from humble beginnings and achieved more than star status; he is considered the greatest English-speaking writer in history.
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While he is rightly remembered as such (he has had more theatrical works performed than any other playwright to this day), he could also be thought of as a master marketer were he alive today. Read on to learn three essential tactics that Shakespeare employed that all marketers can benefit from.
Shakespeare Broke The Rules
Shakespeare was an innovator. He helped transform the English language and theater into what we know them as today. To make a mark in any industry, you need to look at how things are running and find a way to go above and beyond the status quo.
Think of what your audience needs and figure out a new way to give that to them – be the first and you’re sure to leave a mark.
- Shakespeare coined or popularized more than 170 phrases and invented more than 1,700 entirely new words. Think “with bated breath,” “dead as a doornail,” “faint-hearted, “good riddance,” or “kill with kindness” and you’ll soon begin to see Shakespeare’s reach.
- He wrote in a stylized fashion, more freely than others during his time. He continued to change his writing style throughout his career to adapt with the times and create fresh variations of language and verse.
- He developed characters in a new way, giving them more depth and allowing the audience to see into the psyche, and explored themes not yet touched by other playwrights.
Shakespeare Captivated His Audience
Shakespeare understood his audience and gave them what they wanted. He knew what would ring true and maybe even what would stand the test of time to be relevant to future audiences. The most necessary aspect in marketing is making sure your message is reaching the right people and that they hear you.
Think of engaging ways to interact with your target market and you’ll leave an impression.
- Shakespeare made going to the theater an event, and people of all classes were able to enjoy the show. They were engaged with the plot lines and dialogue and even interacted with the characters on stage.
- He entertained by including bawdy jokes and themes of violence, love, lust, greed, war and deception in his works. Plus, he almost single-handedly made romance a worthy topic to be shown as part of a tragedy.
- He wrote world-class content. The only way to keep your audiences’ attention is to write high-quality content, and that’s exactly what Shakespeare did by varying his published works. He wrote plays, poetry, and long-form verse so he could connect with different audiences in different ways.
- He spoke to different audiences simultaneously. Even within the same passage, Shakespeare discusses political current events for the upper class and tells bathroom humor jokes to satisfy the more rowdy audience members. He had a distinct way of manipulating language to talk about a theme or topic in different ways to different audiences within one paragraph, let alone one published work.
Shakespeare Collaborated With The Best In The Business
While I won’t get into the speculation of whether or not Shakespeare wrote all of the works attributed to him (though you might guess that as a tried-and-true Shakespeare lover I have a strong opinion…) there is no doubt that he had help.
We all need outside opinions to help create the best possible product or message. Tap into colleagues, those in other industries and friends to get opinions other than your own.
- Shakespeare worked with many of his contemporaries during the writing process, was a member of or formed multiple acting troupes and worked for several playhouses throughout his career.
- Shakespeare was an actor first, then a writer. At different times in his life he had access to many types of people with varying perspectives that he could draw upon.
- He used other authors’ works as inspiration for his own. On many occasions in his own plays, Shakespeare re-prints and gives credit to works written by Chaucer, another of England’s most well respected poets.
Though I doubt anyone will be able to match Shakespeare’s legacy, we can all strive to employ some of his groundbreaking strategies in our marketing campaigns and create a bit of buzz ourselves.
Though working in the marketing industry can sometimes feel like navigating through a tempest, just remember that all’s well that ends well. Sometimes it feels like a comedy of errors and that there really is much ado about nothing, but if you work to create engaging content as you (or you Clients) like it, you’ll be able to put together a great campaign by the twelfth night of work on a project. Who knows, maybe you’ll soon be having a midsummer night’s dream about an award-winning marketing campaign inspired by Shakespeare!
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