April may have come and gone, but this year still marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. In this post, we take a look at one of his greatest enigmas – and the content marketing lesson we can draw from it.
‘Exit, pursued by a bear’, appearing in Act III scene iii of The Winter’s Tale and heralding the death of Antigonus, is perhaps one of the most famous stage directions ever written — not least because there are none other like it in all of Shakespeare’s collected works.
A lesson from the Bard
But famous and unprecedented as this stage direction is, I can tell you (based on the rigorous test of asking all of my friends) that though many people have heard of it, they often know nothing else about the play it comes from (possibly not even its name).
I don’t pretend to know the mind of someone who’s been dead for 400 years, but I’d hazard a guess that Shakespeare probably wouldn’t be thrilled that one of his plays is best remembered for a stage direction. Which suggests, to me, a lesson about content creation: if you’re going to do something different, make it count.
Redesigning your white paper to be visually stunning (for example) is a great idea – unless it becomes remembered as ‘that paper that looked great’ rather than ‘that paper that was really engaging and made some great points’.
Where there’s a Will (Shakespeare), there’s a way
Innovation in content creation is awesome and absolutely to be encouraged, but how can you be sure it isn’t going to do more harm than good? Here are a couple of options to test any new concept.
1. Prototype it. Get a sample made up and think through the effect of the finished piece. Will it (still) have the result you’re looking for?
2. Ask someone not connected with the project. It’s possible that you’re too close to the content to see the impact your ideas might have – so find someone who isn’t involved and get their opinion.
Perhaps we’re being a little unfair to Shakespeare. Given that he purportedly invented around 1,700 of the words we use today, it’s fair to say that most of his innovations supported his content, rather than distracted from it. With a little thought, yours could do the same.