B2B marketing according to Shakespeare

24th April 2016

Much ado about Shakespeare this past week, as we celebrated the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23 in 1616. And while life today is certainly very different than it was in Elizabethan times, Shakespeare introduced thousands of words into the English language and coined phrases that are still very much in use.

I’ve always loved Shakespeare – his exquisite use of language, his keen, often acerbic, hauntingly tragic and hilariously funny commentaries on life and the human condition. So I thought it would be fun to imagine Shakespeare as a marketer, and interpret some of his famous lines as advice to the marketing profession. After all, for marketers, language – whether written, verbal or visual – is ‘such stuff/As dreams are made on’ (The Tempest).

Tempest 2

So, dear readers, ‘lend me your ears’ (Julius Caesar), my favourite dozen quotes from the Bard in the context of marketing=>

  1. Articulate marketing strategy: ‘Nothing can come of nothing.’ (King Lear)
  2. Take responsibility [for how marketing is viewed within our organisations]: ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves….’ (Julius Caesar)
  3. Be authentic: ‘This above all: to thine own self be true.’ (Hamlet)
  4. Customer attention span: ‘Swift as a shadow, short as any dream/Brief as the lightning in the collied night….’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  5. Listen to our customers: ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.’ (Hamlet)
  6. Take chances: ‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.’ (Measure for Measure)
  7. Embrace change: ‘Be not afraid of greatness.’ (Twelfth Night)
  8. Don’t obsess over the latest marketing hype: ‘All that glisters [glitters] is not gold.’ (The Merchant of Venice)
  9. Keep your brand promise: ‘Take pains. Be perfect.’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  10. Most meetings: ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here.’ (The Tempest)
  11. Show don’t tell: ‘Talking isn’t doing…words are not deeds.’ (Henry VIII)
  12. Have purpose: ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ (As You Like It)

Who knew that Shakespeare was such an authority on marketing?


Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.

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