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What if Great Poets and Prophets Had Been Chief Marketing Officers?

By Stephanie HawkinsMay 21, 2014

what matters most in lifeI’ve been known to enjoy a good inspirational quote from time to time. Who doesn’t, really? We all like hearing words that shed light on areas of darkness so we can forge ahead on our paths. Recently, while reading a particularly great quote, I got to thinking about whether we, as marketers, could apply the great thinkers’ words of wisdom to our lead gen and sales enablement efforts. Do Gandhi’s speeches translate into actionable advice about enhancing the customer experience? Could Wordsworth’s poetry guide our content strategies? Might Mark Twain’s witticisms offer a fresh perspective on form conversions?

To find out, I turned to Goodreads and its “Inspirational Quotes” section, where users’ favorite quotes are aggregated and ranked according to the number of votes they’ve received. Reading each quote through the eyes of a marketer, I attempted to glean meaning beyond the original writer’s intent, only to find it in spades.

Below are some of my favorite inspirational quotes, re-imagined as marketing advice.

Mark Twain: “Let us so live, that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Why this works: Mark Twain’s advice speaks to the philosophy at the heart of inbound marketing; namely, creating high quality content people actually want to read.

Hidden marketing advice: Create marketing so lovable, your customers would miss it if you stopped.

Company Mark Twain would be the CMO of: HubSpot

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Mother Theresa: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Why this works: Mother Theresa hits on an important point here—marketing copy doesn’t have to be lengthy or misleading to have an impact on your audience.

Hidden marketing advice: Copywriting has a lasting effect when it’s clear and well-intentioned.

Company Mother Theresa would be the CMO of: Mozilla

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Edith Wharton: “There are two ways of spreading light—to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.“

Why this works:  Wharton’s advice—if you can’t be the light, reflect it back to others—applies to marketing in the sense that it advocates generating enthusiasm for your brand through audience appreciation.

Hidden marketing advice: Don’t talk about yourself nearly as much as you talk about how amazing your customers are.

Company Edith Wharton would be the CMO of: Dove

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I could go on and on with these examples, but I’ll leave a few for you to mull over. Which companies would these famous thinkers be CMOs of? I have a few thoughts myself, but I’d love to hear your ideas.

  • "Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love." – Gandhi
  • “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” - Dalai Lama
  • "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it."
    – Goethe

Leave your responses in the comment section below!

Creating Content for Marketing Automation

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The Author

Stephanie Hawkins

Stephanie is a Strategist at Kuno Creative and writes about content marketing, buyer persona development and inbound marketing strategy for Brand & Capture. She lives and works in Raleigh, NC. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter!
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