What Marketers Can Learn From Poetry

Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)

In this post, guest writer Samantha Crozier explores the power of poetry to help you build an unforgettable brand—and an unstoppable business—through artful copywriting.

Ever wonder why a jingle sticks in your head? Or why you cringe when you hear the word “moist?” Whether or not we are devoted poets or lyricists, we are all sensitive to the way words sound. Writing marketing copy with an ear for poetry can help you craft phrases that your consumers won’t forget. To compose the most creative copy out there, read on.

As copywriters, we are continually fighting against consumer patience. No one has the time to read through long blocks of text—or sort through filler information. Instead, we live in a world of disappearing Snapchats, Google results that load in .0001 seconds, and six-second Vines. This may feel like a modern problem, but the art of crafting sleek, succinct writing is an old skill. A skill developed by poets.

The point of poetry is to use everything available to you to its fullest extent: space on the page, words, line breaks. The best poets make every word pack a punch. The best marketers do, too.

Think about a few lines from any poem that you’ve heard. Maybe its “and I took the road less traveled by” or “to be or not to be” or “I do not like green eggs and ham.” Whatever the line may be, consider why it sticks in your memory. Is it because it rhymes? Because its meaningful? Or simply because it just says something vivid, surprising? That’s what poetry is supposed to do. Great poetry uses very few words to make a grand gesture. It invokes meaning beyond the literal. It sounds good when you hear it. Just like great marketing copy.

But if it’s been a while since you’ve had to explicate a Shakespearean sonnet or write a haiku, fear not. Below you will find a brief list of those AP English terms that you may have forgotten or never bothered with; start incorporating them into writing copy and you’ll be feeling like the Bard himself.

Alliteration

Dunkin’ Donuts, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, PayPal — alliteration sticks in your head, burrows itself there, hangs around like catchy pop song. Use it for brand names, headlines, slogans, and plain old good copy. Walt Whitman would approve.

Consonance

Not as kitchy as rhyming, but just as effective. Consonance is the repetition of consonant sound (think pitter patter or pink kite). Use it to write copy, and this will have you increasing sales with grace and ease. (See what I did there? Hint: pay attention to the ‘s’ sound.)

Assonance

Consonance’s fraternal twin. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in a phrase. A famous example is from Edgar Allen Poe: hear the mellow wedding bells. Consonance and Assonance are great because they are subtle, unobtrusive way to make sure your words sound good together. And when you only have a few words to use, why not make the best of every syllable.

Rhyming

Ahh. A controversial term. Rhyming is just as much the key to creating an ear-worm as it is to eliciting an eye-roll. But done right, it can make all the difference. There’s a reason why Sams all over the world are tormented with questions about if they like green eggs and ham (I, being a Sam myself, should know). Dr. Seuss knew what he was doing. Rhyming done well and in small doses (like in a slogan or a headline) can really stick in your mind. Oh, the places you’ll go if you can strike the right rhyme.

Metaphor

One of the best tools in your wheelhouse. Using metaphors in the art of writing copy allows the prose to be interesting and evocative. Consider the slogan: Chevrolet, the heartbeat of America. It’s quick, visceral, and short — but also rife with meaning. Calling Chevrolet a “heartbeat” makes it seem like something vital, it invokes the body in order to humanize the product. And then the slogan goes on to tie it back to America. Conjuring nationalism plays with already-existing sentimental attachments. Of course we want to buy a car that is both human and American. Sometimes we buy products, not for the product itself, but for its associations. Using metaphors in marketing allows you to create those associations.

Marketing is an art, not a science—so why not employ an artist’s tools? The poet’s job is to make her reader feel something, to make every line gesture outward.  And while it might not be effective to assign reading from The Complete Works of Shakespeare to everyone on your marketing team, it is helpful to understand why poetry is an effective medium. Keep this in mind, and you’ll be turning poetry into purchases. And if you need help, you know where to find us.

(P.S. See how many of terms above you can find in this post)

 

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Paul Rosevear

What do you get when you combine the soul of a musician with the mind of a writer? Copy that sings. And for the last decade, that’s precisely what Paul has delivered for global brands, bootstrap startups, and everything in between. When he’s not hard at work crafting top-notch communications, you can find Paul hanging with his wife and two young daughters, singing and playing guitar for The Vice Rags, or roaming the streets in search of the nearest slice of pizza.

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