Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your best marketing tactics

How often do you find yourself thinking about the Roman Empire?

This question recently has become a trend on social media. I first learned this from my teen children, who found the question to be funny and provocative. What, they wondered, could be so interesting about ancient Roman civilization that people would be thinking about it on a regular, everyday basis?

I wondered the same thing. Were people thinking about ancient Rome all the time?

As it turns out, not only are people thinking about ancient Rome, but there is good reason to do so.

During this past winter break, I had the good fortune to travel with my family to Europe and as part of our big adventure, we did spend time exploring ancient Roman ruins. Face to face with longstanding architecture, monuments, and a built environment that offers the most compelling perspective into the past, I found myself thinking a lot about the Roman Empire. It’s funny, but it is true.

And what you might ask, does the Roman Empire have to teach us about small business marketing today? Quite a bit.

First, the Romans were typographical masters. The ubiquitous, slightly, visually monotonous typeface Times New Roman is a direct descendant of a gorgeous Roman typeface that is omnipresent on ancient structures around Italy. This typeface is the one that is so classic it seems like it could be used in jest.

The typeface I’m referring to is striking and has beautiful, proportional seraphs (feet) demarcating each letter for readability. The “U’s” are shaped like “V’s,” which I learned is because the Romans felt the two letters were interchangeable, though I suspect it more likely had to do with the fact that chiseling the curvature of a U was challenging to stoneworkers. Still, 2,000 years later, the typeface is omnipresent in Rome and other cities and reads as clear as the day it was produced.

Couple this typeface placed proudly on every statue, building, memorial, and more with strong architecture, handsome stonework, and obvious plans for a civilization that still shine through today. The Romans knew exactly how to market their potency, their empire’s brand value, and their essence. And the world embraced their style for centuries, perhaps even millennia.

I loved observing the fearlessness and wild design the Romans created in their built environment in tandem with their strong, truly bold communication style. There is simply no refuting when one is amid Roman antiquities. We know it because the typeface speaks loud and clear and the architecture does too.

We as small business marketers can learn an important lesson from this. Use strong typefaces, and be bold. State your proudest messages clearly for all the public to read.

It is said Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s true. Strong small businesses also are not built overnight.

Think about your messages. Think about the marketing environment you build to support your business. Is it compelling?

Any ancient Roman would demand you present your brand personality for lasting impact. We can learn a lot from these ancients and the message is as fresh today as it was so many years ago. Bold, clear marketing has an impact.

The next time you find yourself daydreaming or ideating for your marketing effort, think about ancient Rome and think about how you can be inspired by it.

• Rebecca Hoffman is the founder and principal of Good Egg Concepts, a strategic communication and brand marketing consulting practice serving clients across the Chicago area and nationally.

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