—A Primer on Poetry in the Business World, by Joe Blend—
Haiku and business…I’m willing to bet those are two words you probably never expected to see together when reading about the professional world. The reality is that haiku, with all its mystery and brevity, can be relevant to and, in fact, beneficial for your business. Because regardless of its mission, a business’s purpose is to generate revenue from its customers. But if customers can’t connect to a brand’s content, they won’t stick around. And a customer that walks away is no longer a customer.
Content is king but it can’t reign forever
Website content, even blog articles, must provide information. At some point, the content must answer questions, highlight attributes, or convey value. That’s what I call workhorse content and businesses of all sizes use it. It pulls the load, it transports the knowledge, it goes from point A to point B: nothing more, nothing less. As I’m sure you can imagine, this type of content tends to favor direct communication over creative engagement and that, truthfully, makes sense. Therefore, the challenge has always been (and will always be) how to creatively engage an audience while still sharing the value proposition contained within the content. I’m happy to say this is where haiku can help.
IF THEY FORGET, WHAT’S THE POINT?
Read an article—in a blog or magazine—and try to remember everything you read. Now wait a few days and see how much you can recall. Unless you have a photographic memory, the chances are you’ll only remember some of the article, perhaps just a compelling statement or interesting point of view.
The mind can’t remember everything it reads
Imagine if you could condense your message into three short lines. What if it was possible to give each member of your audience a bite-size giveaway that’s so steeped in your message it’s practically DNA? Well, that’s the benefit of using haiku in your business’s content. Traditionally three lines with a five-seven-five syllable count, haiku is concise: it shares an idea in its most efficient form and employs a clever turn of thought at its conclusion, to drive home the point of the poem. In other words, you get more impact using fewer words. Less is more, my friends!
I can sense some eye rolling and developing questions…
“Joe, haiku can’t replace a thousand-word blog article or information-packed web page! And by the way, doesn’t a snappy headline work just as well as haiku?”
It’s true that a haiku can’t replace long-form content. And yes, a headline does to some extent convey the purpose of a piece of content. However, haiku can encapsulate the essence of the entire piece of content, in a way that a headline or hundreds of words can’t possibly do. It will give your audience something to hold onto long after they’ve left your site.
How can it be used? A few examples include (but are not limited to): as a text accent inserted between key paragraphs; as a brief introduction or conclusion; or as a pull quote of sorts, sitting comfortably in the margin while demanding to be read.
BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE
Haiku is not just an ideal vehicle for concisely conveying the emotional impact of an idea or endeavor. It is also unique. Aside from performance writing at corporate events, haiku typically resides within literary anthologies and coffee house poetry slams. That’s because haiku is an unrealized tool for professional communication. And we all know that which is not stale is, of course, memorable.
ALLOW ME TO PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE
If you could travel back in time to when I began my career in writing, and you asked me whether I thought poetry had any practical use for a business, my answer would have been “no.” But here we are, mid-2017, and I’m happy to say I’ve written haiku for a few businesses and with great reception. My work has been created for Identity Guard, Baker Prince Photography, and North Star Science and Technology and was written for a website, blog articles, and a corporate presentation. But allow me, for a moment, to use one of those customers as a spotlight on the effectiveness of haiku in a business setting.
CASE STUDY: Baker Prince Photography
Baker Prince Photography approached me to write a haiku for inclusion in one of their upcoming blog articles about high school portraits. I was eager to roll up my sleeves because the photograph they chose as the accompanying illustration (and source of inspiration for the article) was chock-full of narrative. After carefully studying the photograph, I asked myself one question: what is the person in the photograph trying to say? I looked beyond the books.
I began to focus on someone in the middle of a journey. I didn’t see the journey as a path to the next stop (i.e. college) but instead considered it an act of self-discovery. What popped into my mind, along with an array of keywords, was the idea that a student is more than the books they read and the facts they memorize. I felt as if the teenager in the photo was on a personal quest and she was allowing me to see her in progress, as if I caught her in the middle of personal reflection. I could almost hear her say “this is who I am at this moment, and my journey isn’t over.” And that’s when I realized this is a never-ending quest and it’s one that every young adult is engaged in. I had the inspiration for my haiku.
To craft the poem, I examined the notion of being unique. Then, I infused it with the idea of life being a much larger journey while considering the roles that teenagers play upon that stage:
young minds beyond books
soon learn they weave the fabric
of life’s fingerprints
Truth be told, I also wrote the blog article but that wasn’t a prerequisite for a good haiku. The haiku I wrote covered the significant aspects of the topic while being memorable enough to remain with the reader long after the words were read. And I also found the perfect spot for the haiku to reside within the article. I’ll let Neil Adams, Principal Creative for the studio, tell you what he thought, in his own words: “Joe wrote three haiku for me to use in various blog articles and they have been fantastic. He opened my eyes to how haiku can be applied to business; to add this poetry to my blog added messaging that I had not seen anywhere else before. His haiku are thought provoking and can also be good for your business’s bottom line.”
HAIKU CAN WORK FOR YOU!
If you want your content to stand apart from the rest—if you want it to be memorable—don’t follow the status quo. Sure, the collective Office Space mentality will shake its head at you, trying to condemn the future of your brand’s messaging efforts to a sea of cubicle walls and never-ending Hawaiian Shirt Fridays. But don’t succumb to their efforts! Haiku may not deliver an immediate increase in dollar signs but it will nurture something quite valuable for your business, in the long term: connection.
I write fresh haiku
a powerful bond
DOWNLOAD: If you want a PDF version of my haiku primer on poetry in the business world, simply click here. It’s free to download! Share with colleagues or keep a copy on hand for your own business needs.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about how haiku could help your brand’s message, feel free to contact me using the form below. To learn more about my work, please visit my studio website at www.joeblend.com.