More on what the great bard teaches us about marketing

shakespearen dualThere are so many great works by Shakespeare that it’s hard to choose. While a previous column looked at Hamlet, MacBeth, Romeo & Juliet, and Henry V, today we’ll look at four new plays and see what we can distill from them about marketing, and life.

The Merchant of Venice – “If you prick us, do we not bleed.”

If you’re going to make a deal, never ask for a pound of flesh as collateral. It’s just downright mean, and everyone knows that if you take a pound of flesh, you’re basically killing someone. That’s a really steep price to pay for love. My favorite line is from the infamous Shylock, who asks, “If you prick us, do we not bleed,” and adds, “And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” The lesson here is don’t mess with a guy who wants a pound of flesh for a loan. Yet, the real message is even the strongest of us may hurt when you go after us, and those who have been beaten down but have gotten stronger as a result, may seek out retribution.

Julius Caesar – “Et tu, Brute.”

When your best friend literally stabs you in the back, how can you then not say, “Then fall Caesar.” And who could forget the great Marc Antony and his tribute to his boss. He goes out of his way to explain how Brutus was an honorable man, but then he exclaims, “When that the poor hath cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.” But his killer line for me: “O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts.” Marc Antony was that quintessential leader who could rally the troops. He goes out of his way not to bash his competitors, and even looks to understand their side; I mean, there’s a pretty good case to be made that Caesar was a tyrant. When trying to win hearts and minds, you need to be reasonable and see both sides if you truly seek greatness.

Henry VI  – “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Before I get any nastygrams, I am not advocating killing any lawyers. In fact, some of my best friends are lawyers, and they’re good friends to have. This line is often taken way out of context and you need to remember it was uttered by Dick the Butcher. For our perspective, I see this not as an indictment on the legal profession, but as a critique of analysis-paralysis. I mean, we “lawyer up” for a reason. When we’re in legal peril that’s a wise move, but sometimes in business and marketing, things need to get done without an overreaching hand in the mix.

As You Like It – “All the world’s a stage”

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, his act being seven ages.”

How can you disagree with this insight? We see so many different faces and acts out there as we navigate the roads through life. The real takeaway here is that people change throughout their lives. That employee you had fifteen years ago is not the same person today. And those client needs from 10 years ago have changed; newsletters we once did now are blog posts. And the TV commercials are now on Social Media, though we still love TV. The world changes, and we with it.

For a fitting goodbye, I leave you with this from the architect of Caesar’s demise, Cassius, who says to Brutus before he goes off to battle:If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed. If not, ’tis true this parting was well made.”