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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Fashionable drivel with helpful advice from 400 years ago - plus your advice, please

I'll tell about the picture in a minute as it may interest you.

But first, I am often amused by the way, at regular intervals, people tell you everything has changed, customers are getting smarter etc., etc.

Only this morning I read that a business expert, referring to the internet, and the great social media yawn-a-thon thinks “In this new world, we are more and more dependent on word-of-mouth.”

Sorry. It's all balls.

I regularly quote research conducted for Buick about 7 years ago which asked people what governed their choice of a new car. The chief reason given was word of mouth. (TV advertising, on which Buick were pissing away most of their money was given as least important, and boring old direct mail from dealers came second after word of mouth).

I will happily wager that word of mouth always has been and always will be the chief single reason why people buy things - or do things, for that matter. The internet just allows more people to sound off than ever before, and since most of what they say is rubbish, I'm not sure how much it helps.

I would imagine people are, if possible, getting more stupid, too.

Back in the '60's fashionable educational theory proposed that nobody should be allowed to fail. The real result has been that educational standards have been lowered to such a degree that in reality almost everyone does. This is not helped by the fact that governments fiddle things to make them look better than they are.

A big thing worth remembering about people was well put about 400 years by Sir Francis Bacon in one of his essays: "Men behave as they are accustomed". Our own marketing hero John Caples said "Times change. People don't"


Here are three things I would appreciate your advice about.

1. Craig Sunney, one of my EADIM graduates, lives in Umbria, Italy in a village called Rotecastello, which means red castle. It's the one in the picture and I suspect he inhabits it. Maybe I should be his student.

Last week we had drinks in Leicester Square and he told me a lovely story.

Rotecastello has an annual Festa (like a Spanish Fiesta) which includes a classical concert. The concert has always lost money, dragging everything down financially.

He told me how he had used different thinking and all manner of media from roadside banners to direct mail to badges to on-line advertising to promote the event. I have seen the material (very elegant) and he made it profitable.

I was fascinated and amused particularly by the fact that none of the organising committee will speak to him now. Ah, politics!

Would you like to know how he did it? I have never seen anything local promoted so well.

2. I have clients in South East Asia who help people sell property - not just in that area but in the U.K. and Europe. Last year I spent some time working with them on a ten part series for their clients about how to do good marketing.

Would you be interested if I turned it into a little e-book?

3. Four years ago I set about what I now think was an unduly elaborate thing called Commonsense Marketing which has been running ever since.

It consisted (and still does) of a course that teaches marketing from A to Z, plus interviews with people I admire, and general advice. It went on forever and ever and had three levels, but I plan to relaunch an improved and simplified version in January. Would you like to try it free for a month? Existing subscribers will get a special deal.

As usual, send me emails saying Festa, or Basics or Commonsense (whichever interests you). Thanks for your help.

P. S. I must warn you that I do get carried away. If enough people are interested in the Italian Festa story, I might go mad and try and arrange a jaunt there. Many people consider Umbria the most beautiful part of Italy - and my rule in life is "why not?"

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