When poets create beautiful works of poetry they very rarely consider the impact with regard to money, nobody writes poems for profit. I believe having read lots of poetry over the years that there is a lot we can learn from poetry and certainly in marketing because poetry is the language of the soul, it really speaks volumes about humans and emotions and I think marketing is not so far away from that. Not quite as poetic perhaps because there’s a functional output required from marketing, but I think there’s lots of lessons.
This blog is called profit from poetry and what I want to do is flag up a couple of key lines from three poems and their lessons that will make your marketing more profitable. So if you’ve ever wanted to make money out of poetry, now’s your chance.
The first poem is by William Butler Yeats called The Second Coming and it’s one of the most influential poems I think I’ve ever read because it was so incredibly powerful. The line that really inspires me from a marketing, and a business perspective (of course this is about life more widely than just about marketing).
The line is early on in the poem William Butler Yeats said;
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”
William Butler Yeats is talking in reference to a falcon and a falconer and how the falcon responds to the falconer in a circle called the gyre. Within that circle the falconer has voice control and command over the Falcon, but when the Falcon goes out just going outside the gyre. The width of the diameter of the circle of control, at that point things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. The falconer no longer has control over the Falcon.
There’s a huge lesson here, I’m a big advocate of starting small and simple when it comes to marketing, in fact any task. How do you eat an elephant? In small pieces.
The same is true here, you have to start small and simple and build it out from there. For me close, simple control is better than distant complicated anarchy. I’m not saying don’t do anything, on the contrary, just make sure to start small and simple and build from there. Don’t try and do everything overnight, because I’ve seen it tried and it doesn’t work. Even if you have massive amounts of resources, you can’t go from zero to hero without tons of pain and pain takes time. You can’t speed that up.
You have to build a sustainable architecture for marketing, start with one campaign, do it well, execute the absolutely living hell out of it, be awesome because of that one campaign. Then do another campaign and then another and after time, you will have built up an architecture all around you that allows you to run a multitude of concurrent campaigns, different audiences, with different messaging, with different calls to action, with lots of different ways of thinking about things and lots of people in your team or outside your business as out sourced or out tasked providers helping along the way.
But you can’t go from 0 to 100 miles an hour overnight and have the most complicated marketing system. For small to medium businesses, certainly for smaller businesses, absolutely definitely start small, you probably won’t need to go that big, and frankly you probably won’t be able to go that big, because the work required to run marketing campaigns brilliantly isn’t 5 seconds a day, you’re going to have to get involved. With most of my clients that come on the master class or that join me in mastermind, we start very simple and we give them control and we give them functional understanding of what it is they need to do, how they’re going to do it and what the impact will be. What we don’t do is load them up with a million things to do that would just be setting them up to fail, and then they are going to blame marketing. No one ever blames themselves, they’re always gonna blame marketing, they’re gonna say the marketing is rubbish they’re gonna blame everything else apart from themselves. That’s a massive problem for marketing because marketing is usually effective when it’s done right.
So start small and simple, build from there.
Most important thing if you want to avoid getting too ambitious in this regard is beware the ego, egotistically we always want to be seen to be doing more.
The second poem is from Emily Dickinson and I absolutely fell in love with her poetry while at University. She has a phenomenal poem number 1129, they are all numbered and it starts; “Tell all the truth” Now I’m not going to read you the whole poem, I urge you to go and read it, it’s a very short piece of work but it’s absolutely incredible.
The line that matters most is;
“The truth must dazzle gradually.”
The truth must dazzle gradually. Beyond belief of how that impacted on me.
Storytelling like relationship building isn’t instantaneous.
Storytelling like relationship building isn’t instantaneous, it’s a complex myriad set of signals, if you try and rush it, if you try and tell the truth quickly as Emily Dickinson continues “The truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind” If you try and give too much information to your market too quickly without building a sustainable relationship framework underneath it, people will feel it to be a sales pitch or they won’t understand at all and it would just absolutely self destruct, it won’t give the result you want, so dazzle gradually.
The last piece of work I want to reference is Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night” Many people will have heard of this and it’s a story about his devastation over the loss of his father and something that I recognize because of the loss of my father and I think it’s very valuable for the loss of anything, but certainly a parent.
But the line in the poem that’s the most relevant is of course;
“Do not go gentle into that good night”
It’s the title line and it is so powerful, the rest of the poem is incredible, you have to read it. Ultimately in marketing terms the reason I think this is relevant is you must fight for your place, not through anger but through action. Conversation mastery ultimately isn’t about force, it’s about feeling. It’s about how you feel, it’s about how your market feels. You must fight for your place not through anger but through action.
The poem goes on to talk about rage, for me rage is about action. I know there’s a lot of emotion and heat there but he’s talking about his father, that’s understandable in that context. He wants his father to rage – I want you to rage, I want your marketing to rage but in a positive, non-ragey way, fight for your place through anger not action.
Ultimately conversation mastery isn’t about force, it’s about feeling.
So quick summary;
“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold”
Start small and stay simple,
“The truth must dazzle gradually”
Storytelling like relationship building isn’t instantaneous and,
“Do not go gentle into that good night”
Conversation mastery isn’t about force it’s about feeling.
I’d love to know if you think of any other lines from poems that are relevant, please do comment below.