It’s no surprise I love musicals. Over the years I’ve written several posts about favorite shows of mine: Newsies, Wicked, and today – Hamilton. However, a major difference is that I’ve never actually seen Hamilton (in my defense, it hasn’t come to a city I live near yet).
I’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much nonstop for the last couple of weeks, and despite not actually seeing it, I’ve been able to follow the story line, connect with the characters and notice a few marketing tips you can apply to your business! Keep reading for nine fantastic lessons from the popular Broadway musical.
Marketing Lessons From Broadway’s Hamilton
1. Make your message easy to digest!
I can’t wait until I get to see Hamilton for myself! However, there isn’t much (if any) dialogue outside of the songs themselves, so if you listen to the lyrics it’s easy to follow along with the show’s plot.
As a business, think about how easy it is for readers to understand your message. Before you create any new marketing content, consider your primary message. What do you want readers or viewers to walk away with after reading your blog post or watching your video? Now keep that message central to your content so someone coming in with no context of your company as a whole can understand your point.
2. Be relatable!
Alexander Hamilton, the protagonist in the musical, is not perfect. There are a few times he admits his imperfections:
- “Oh, am I talkin’ too loud? Sometimes I get over excited, shoot off at the mouth.” – My Shot
- “Burr, you’re a better lawyer than me…I know I talk too much, I’m abrasive.” – Non-Stop
- “I know I don’t deserve you, Eliza.” – It’s Quiet Uptown
Still, despite his mistakes as well the controversial national bank he sets up following the Revolutionary War, Hamilton is relatable. As an audience we understand where he’s coming from and what he’s thinking.
Taking it a bit further, you understand where another character, Aaron Burr, is coming from, even though he and Hamilton come to an impasse towards the end of the show. Through the songs they convey what they’re thinking and feeling and why they make the decisions they make – giving context to the famous duel between the two of them at the end that results in Burr shooting Hamilton.
As a business, are you relatable to your clients? You can do this in a few ways:
- Show off your personality! Use language that reflects your business’ culture, whether it’s more professional and businesslike or a little more fun and friendly.
- Let them see your face! If you mostly work with clients online, sometimes it’s hard to relate to the person behind an email. Share behind-the-scenes pictures or videos of your team on your social media channels and send email newsletters to clients and prospects that allow them to see the faces behind the company with which they’re working.
- Explain your thought process! When you make a recommendation to a client, let them know why you suggest a certain strategy, approach or product. In addition to helping them make an educated decision, this reveals more of you as a person to them and ultimately makes you more relatable.
3. Be bold!
As Alexander Hamilton asks in the song Aaron Burr, Sir, “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?”
What does your business stand for? While you don’t want to turn around and offend people for the sake of making a bold statement, it’s also important your brand doesn’t appear wishy-washy. By making clear, bold statements, you reduce confusion with your clients, plus you reflect your authority, positioning yourself as an expert.
4. Make it fun!
Personally, I can’t imagine cabinet meetings were very exciting. Yet in Hamilton the musical, there are a couple of meetings titled, “Cabinet Battles,” in which the characters riff back and forth, debating why their way is the best way for the young United States. It certainly sounds much more fun than I imagine the meetings actually were!
Do you have fun with your company’s marketing? If you don’t, your followers probably don’t either! How can you create content to entertain potential clients while making a point? Why not use a resource like Canva.com to create some fun images that share industry tips or inspiring quotes? Or think about fun activities you’ve been doing lately and see if there is a way you can relate it to a topic your readers would be interested in for a blog post. Another idea is to come up with a fun event to connect with consumers in a new way, such as how the marketing team behind the Gilmore Girls Revival brought Stars Hollow to life!
5. Be creative!
As with most adaptations, Hamilton takes a little bit of creative license with the story. For example, in the musical Alexander’s wife is one of three sisters, when in reality she actually had 12 other siblings, some of them brothers. Although it’s not historically accurate, this adaptation does make the relationships between Alexander, his wife and his sister-in-law more interesting while still staying fairly true to the integrity of the historical figures.
Unlike the theatre, where audiences understand storytellers sometimes take creative license, it’s important you are completely truthful in all your marketing. Still, a healthy dose of creativity can make your brand stand apart from competitors while providing current and potential clients helpful information about your brand.
6. Know your audience!
Hamilton was definitely written with a 21st century audience in mind. Throughout the musical, Alexander Hamilton talks about how important it is to end slavery, as if it was a major platform of his:
- “We’ll never be free until we end slavery!” – Yorktown
- “A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor, your debts are paid cuz you don’t pay for labor. ‘We plant seeds in the South. We create.’ Yeah, keep ranting. We know who’s really doing the planting.” – Cabinet Battle 1
However, according to History News Network it’s likely, “Hamilton conceptually opposed slavery, as his manumission society activities reveal…but to call Alexander Hamilton an abolitionist – let alone the leading abolitionist of his generation – is a historical absurdity.”
We live in a culture that celebrates diversity, especially in the arts, so it makes sense the musical would reflect that. Another way the show embraced this was through a diverse cast. Even though it may not be as historically accurate, it resonates much better with our current culture and the show’s target audience.
How well do you know your business’ customers? Learn everything you can about them so you can better target them through your marketing strategy; this will help you reach and resonate with them in a much more powerful way.
7. Tell a story!
Narratives are a wonderful way to connect with your clients. In Hamilton, the story drives the musical numbers, moving from one to the next seamlessly. How can you integrate a story into your marketing campaign? I love how Beth explains it in her blog post about 7 Business Uses for Social Media Marketing:
A great story has four elements: theme, plot, structure and characters. You can think of them this way:
Theme (Know Your Industry)
Set the tone of your story by knowing the ins and outs of your industry; every story needs a solid foundation.
Plot (Know Your Story)
Determine the main message you want your audience to take away and make sure it’s front and center.
Structure (Present Readable Content)
Present your message in a readable format; for example, if you have a lengthy piece of research, break it into main points and share it via multiple social media updates.
Characters (Include Your Audience)
All good stories have solid and genuine characters. Make your audience a part of yours by inserting them into the narrative!
8. Share information!
By listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, I’ve learned a lot about American history, from little-known facts during the Revolutionary War to bigger particulars like why the country’s capitol is in Washington, D.C.
Do your followers and fans walk away learning a little bit more about your industry? By sharing helpful information, you’re empowering them to make educated decisions for themselves, as well as establishing yourself as an expert for them to rely on for advice.
9. History is watching!
As the Washington and Hamilton sing in the musical, “History has its eyes on you.” While your business may not be at the forefront of a revolutionary war or become the first leaders of a new country, it’s important you’re aware that everything you share is public!
Before you publish anything – including blog posts, social media updates or email newsletters – double and triple check for typos. Think about the message(s) you’re conveying and consider if the language you’re using is the best way to convey your point. Ask yourself, “Does it reinforce my brand? Does it hinder it?”
Remember, everything you share can live on, even if you delete it, so if you’re not sure if you should post something, there’s a good chance you probably shouldn’t.
Have you seen the musical Hamilton, or even just listened to the soundtrack? Can you think of any marketing lessons I’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!
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