Photo: ashley.adcox/Flickr/Creative Commons License
Poets are flakes, right? New agey, happy little trees folks who feel it necessary to share their feelings with everyone around them at any given moment? So what could they possibly know of the business world, the world of creative content and marketing innovation?
Of course, as most creative writers know, the above assessment is invalid – at least for contemporary poets. These days, the flowery hearts types are rarer than ever. Poets have websites and blogs, Facebook profiles and online ordering for their chapbooks. And good poets have quite of few of the best and most intuitive marketing concepts down just by the nature of their creative work.
What they can teach us about web writing for easy navigation and short attention spans could probably fill 10 of those chapbooks. But I’ve pulled out the top 5 main points for the sake of brevity, and to go along with the theme here:
Poets are efficient with the words they use. They’reTwitter naturals, since they have to cut their word count down to say something important in one or two lines. If you’ve ever seen a poet in the editing stages, cutting out every word that doesn’t contribute something great to the piece, you know what I’m talking about here. They’re brutal – to themselves and their work. We should all take a lesson from that practice.
Poets know how to break up concepts into bite-sized chunks. Poems by nature are usually short, unless we’re talking about the epic variety. Most poets go for something that can fit on one tiny page in a chapbook. Even the longer poems are broken up into stanzas, and each stanza is a piece unto itself.
When we write (or read) web copy, we know the good stuff is chunked into bits that are easily digested by the reader. The audience can find what they need quickly, navigate by bullets and headers, and not have to sift through a large body of work to get the information. It’s one of the top rules in technical writing. So think like a poet, and consider your “chunks,” like stanzas.
Poets understand the concept of empathy. Empathy is the key to engagement. Write from the perspective of the customer, we marketers always say. Knowing how to tap into audience emotion is a talent good poets have honed to a fine point.
Poets laser-focus on theme. They might be writing about love, family, or nature, or any of the other major tropes in human existence, but they have to pick one or two elements to focus on about that grand and overarching subject. Nature might be illustrated by one blade of grass. Love, by the crinkle in a partner’s smile. Family obligation by a portrait of Father in Law in His Tighty Whities (courtesy of my best friend, poet Claudine Moreau).
Content marketers talk about specific keywords, targeted ads, and landing pages for specific products or services that bring the right audience to the right place for engagement. It’s all about microfocus. Same thing, different language.
Poets get the importance of imagery. They paint pictures with their words. Content folks spend hours finding the right images to highlight their copy, and work hard to make sure images and video (and any other visual content) creates a balance with the words. Audiences are visual. Painting a picture of a concept, creating a scene/scenario – these are paramount to engagement.
These five poetic tips can help you write more engagingly and get a handle on your content before it turns into a novel – two of the most difficult tasks for a long-form writer. So grab your virtual quill pen and get your great new content out there where it can do some good.