Who says poets don’t make money? Well … OK, maybe poetry doesn’t make buku money. But poets do — when they can apply their poetic license elsewhere. And what better place than the marketing world? After all, poetry and marketing share the same goals of conveying as much emotion or feeling of a specific place and time in as few words as possible.
Why poets make good copywriters
Does a poet write for you? (Bonfire has four!) In addition to being excellent wordsmiths, poets harbor key qualities that make for easier incorporation into an agency setting.
- We know how to take feedback and rejection: Poets usually trade feedback (workshop) with other poets before a work is deemed finished. Then, we get rejected by dozens of literary journals. It’s not masochism; it’s part of our creative process.
- We know how to be concise: As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wisely mused, “I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order.”
- We think associatively: A poet’s brain is a collision of words and images. We visualize and map a task the minute it’s assigned.
- We love metaphors: It’s very similar to how we love our coffee — complex, but uncomplicated, full-bodied, and rich.
- We’re self-editors: We write. We rewrite. We write too much. We whittle it down. By the time our work gets to an editor, we’ve already put it through several revisions.
How to use poetry in your copywriting
You don’t have to be a poet to be a masterful wordsmith in your copywriting. The basic tenets between the two are the same. These aren’t a set of rules; they’re a sliding scale of lingual manipulation. Have fun with it!
- Prosody is the patterns of speech concerning the tone, pitch, and rhythm of vocal emphasis as they are naturally spoken. It conveys an emotional state. Studies show the prosodic characteristics of sentences can actually influence a reader’s perception of the text, giving it personality. Copy should read as it is spoken.
- Rhyme, alliteration, and repetition implant words into memory. Use it on short copy like headlines, titles, or social media. Surprisingly, rhyming statements are seen as more accurate and can even make you think kindly of a statement you disagree with.
- Shorter sentences and uncomplicated syntax make text digestible, relatable, and readable. Poets are masters at conveying large ideas using simple words. (Remember the wisdom of Coleridge.) Doing so in your blog and copy appeals to a larger audience. Cognitive fluency asserts people prefer shorter statements and are affected by how easy or hard it is to wrap their minds around ideas.
- Rhythm and meter improve how one sentence flows into another. Delayed transitions help poets with line breaks. The same can be used in copy to swing readers from one sentence to the next. Form a cadence using “and” at the beginning of a sentence, or arranging three sentences together with the same number of syllables. This keeps the reader moving whether they realize it or not.
If you’re a copywriter but don’t qualify yourself as a poet, trust you were once. Everyone wrote verse or lyric as a child. Most quit out of fear of relevance. Don’t put your inner poet in a dark corner of your brain.
If you’re an agency looking for a word warrior, take a chance on a poet. Most think poetry is about painting a pretty picture with flourishing descriptions. But it’s really about mastering language and choosing the perfect words in just the right order to make language sing.