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Friday, 28 January 2011

My night with Sir Les Patterson - and my other most embarassing moment

If you don't know who this great man is, well, what a cultural experience you've missed.

He has been described as obese, lecherous and offensive, which goes to show that in the world of politics John Prescott has competition.

But let me tell you more.

In the '60s when the world was young and so was I, a strip cartoon in Private Eye gave me great joy every week.

It recounted the picaresque adventures of its hero, an Aussie bloke in London called Barry McKenzie. To this day I recall with delight one phrase for eructation: "Pointing Percy at the Porcelain".

The author of this delightful production was Barry Humphries, who has been adding to the dwindling stock of public pleasure ever since under various guises, the most famous being Sir Les Patterson - as seen at his best above - and Dame Edna Everage.

You can stuff your Crocodile Dundees. Barry is streets ahead. He is the ultimate master of taking the piss. Although it's very Australian, I think anyone with a sense of humour and who hates politicians will enjoy the little extract below.


Barry Humphries is also extraordinarily polite, civilised and forgiving, as I learned when I met him some years ago in Sydney. My genial host - not Barry, but a friend called Michael Ball who took me to Barry's for dinner - had filled me up with good wine in advance. He must have regretted his hospitality ever since.

I behaved appallingly as I recall, trying (I feel ashamed just thinking about it) to make an impression and, God help me, maybe even flirt with the beautiful lady next to me. Not a good move: she was Barry's wife.

He said nothing about my antics, just carried on talking in the most entertaining way you can imagine. A gentleman and scholar - but what a boor I was.

This was the second most embarrassing evening I can recall, but I have a queasy feeling that there have been others I don't.

The most awful one involved The Duke of Edinburgh and David Ogilvy. I will save that for another time.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Students leader talks bollocks - as usual - plus a new free video coming up

Since 1975 every President of the National Union of Students has gone on to become a politician, almost invariably in the Labour Party.

The best (or worst) example is Jack Straw who went on to become one of The Great Bliar's and subsequently The Bloated McToad's slimiest sidekicks.

You can't expect a trainee politician, or Compulsive Liar in Embryo, to talk sense - which is why it was no surprise to read that the current President of the students' crew, Aaron Peter, thinks the present government is placing most of the burden of our current woes on young people.

I saw this in a piece about the fact that the number of graduates who can't get jobs has doubled.

This is a shame, but if you were to ask me who is suffering most I would say Aaron is full of shit. The people who have been getting a right kicking for the last 14 years have been older people, those who made the mistake of saving money for retirement.

First of all half their savings were stolen by the reptile Brown, then the return on what was left was slaughtered as a result of the financial cock up caused to some degree by the squandermania of the said McToad and Bliar. Now if you do save the banks give you fuck all interest in order to afford their bonuses - and if you want to borrow, oh dear!

Returns are dire; annuity rates are the lowest in history - and I could go on about what I can only call the biggest financial rape in British history which actually discourages saving. And all the while the politicians, union leaders and retired bankers enjoy their index-linked pensions.

And by the way, one reason students can't get jobs is that far too often they have not been taught to write English properly because of the fashionable drivel that expressing yourself as you please matters more than being coherent.

Enough of all that. I have finally, finally managed to extract from the maw of the large organisation responsible two videos made in New York in the summer.

One is me interviewing "the world's greatest salesmen" and the other is him interviewing me about what I think is the secret of great selling with a potted history of my career and many mistakes.

I looked at them yesterday and was amazed. They really are rather good and - in my view, anyhow - quite entertaining.

But who said I was in love with myself?

My new boss, the radiant Chloe, will put one up for you to see when she is satisfied that it meets with her demanding criteria.

Your bloody nightmare, as promised, Sir! Plus my Shit List

Well. moving home has lived down to its billing.

The majestic new couch wouldn't go through the door at the new place so we had to put it in storage; the cleaners hadn't cleaned properly; the man who brought the bed couldn't be arsed to bring it up; the removal guy suddenly announced he wanted cash not a bank transfer.

And we have a flood of work for clients, all urgent.

On top of that I'm about as much use during a removal as a spare prick at a wedding.

But we did find an astounding handyman and a terrific carpet firm. (I say "we" metaphorically; it means "she").

But business goes on, which moves me to ask you a question.

Do you ever feel desperate when you contemplate what you have to do? I do.

It goes onto my Shit List - stuff I really must get to grips with.

So ...

I have got at least one and maybe two terrific new speakers for my branding event.

We found a "lost" interview I did last year with a gentlemen whose business turns over £20 million plus a year -and who says he owes a lot of his success to one of my books. There are a few people who say that, oddly enough, which makes me wonder where
I went wrong.

I am also going to interview a friend who has been voted more influential than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a lady whose mail packs for charities are producing extraordinary results and a friend who knows more about direct marketing than I do. (These interviews are for my Commonsense Marketing members, by the way - and I am a good month behind on them).

It appears a few of you want "mentoring" - God, I hate that word; why not advising? - including one chap who is worth a few million but obviously wants some new jokes, because I doubt if I can teach him a thing.

And ... and there is the copywriting event I have in mind plus another spectacular thing I've only mentioned twice during speeches in the U.S. Plus something for people who want to sell cars. Er ... and there is EADIM - but that's months away

Miserere mei!

In the words of The Book of Common Prayer, "I have done that which I ought not to have done; and I have left undone that which I ought to have done" - but it all seems to happen in the end somehow.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Can making ice cream lead to an orgasm? - And other thoughts on leaving home

We're moving home this week.

As we all know this experience is supposed to be the third worst after bereavement and divorce, but my mood has been lightened today by a few glimpses 0f lunacy.

First I saw across the road outside the Bluebird Cafe a sign about some ice cream made in Purbeck, Dorset. Apparently it is "made passionately".

What utter bollocks. Do they all faint and have orgasms as they do their churning, or whatever? If you feel like that when making ice cream what the hell do you do when you make love?

Another giddy moment came when I picked up a just-used copy of the News of the World, a comic masquerading as a newspaper, formerly edited by Cameron's just-resigned Head of Half Truths and Misrepresentation, Andy Coulson.

Do you really expect me to believe that as the editor he never knew about the phone tapping that was going on? That he never asked, "So where did this juicy story come from?" Pull the other one - it's got bells on it.

The paper was full of good stuff, though. There were pictures of "Lilo" not wearing very much. I wonder how it feels to be named after an inflatable mattress. Then there were pictures of Katy Price recovering from her hilarious fake marriage by rubbing her tits all over polo players in a bar somewhere.

I do admire her. She has achieved a great deal on the basis of nothing but an investment in silicone and a genius for publicity. I feel she is the latest in the long line of wonderful ladies typified by Nell Gwynn and Emma Hamilton who did the best with what they had.

Mind you, she's had to do it the hard way. Nell was fucked by Charles 11; Emma had Nelson. She's had Peter Andre and that other loser. What a sad decline.

The high spot of my yesterday was being interviewed in Kensington High Street by what I think was a student TV channel, asking me what I thought of the enquiry into the shit Blair and his lies about Iraq. It is a disgrace and a negation of freedom that we are not allowed to hear what Blair and Bush said to each other. I imagine that in the end the U.S. media which are not so trammelled will come up with the truth.

Which reminds me: I see Gordon Brown is kicking up a fuss about his phone having been taped. I feel sorry for the poor bugger who did it; he probably found it hard to stay awake.

That's enough from me. Must get back to packing. I am no help at all, really.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Financial syphilis: "Give me your old, your gullible, your desperate" - Short of saying 'this is all a pack of lies' what could beat this?

If you're a connoisseur of the great rip-off, "The League of Power" is always good for a laugh. I've been following their stuff since they first started promising me freedom by the weekend.

Today they say "Life could be very different if you only believe and act now" - then off we go into the wonders of sponsored dreamland.

A certain "Ken Kingstone" - who he? - typical spammer name - promises cascades of mouthwatering checks. Page after page of great rip off copy aimed at worried people who want to retire - leading to the lines before the Guarantee of No-Cost Inspection and No-Strings Free Gift "I know you feel fear too. What I say is to take that fear and harness its power. Trust your gut and go with it!"

This is like the old catholic doctrine of invincible ignorance. Only a Sunday morning TV preacher like Benny Hinn could do better. I wonder how many read what "Ken" has to say at the end just to escape jail I guess. Very few, I'm sure:

*INCOME CLAIM WARNING: Results depicted are not typical of most results. These income examples are unique and represent unique experiences of the writer. Some individuals purchasing the program may make little or NO MONEY AT ALL. These claims are not a guarantee of your income, nor are they typical of average participants. Individual results will vary greatly depending upon your input, determination, hard work, and ability to follow directions. No person or company can guarantee profits or freedom from loss. Any and all use of this website certifies you are agreeing to our Earnings and Income Disclaimer"

I love the "some individuals" and "hard work" following paragraph after paragraph suggesting you need do nothing but collect checks. For example, "A lifetime royalty stream from other peoples’ genius from your armchair with a few phone calls…"

is stuff reminds me of what I was taught about testimonials when I first started learning how to write real selling copy 40-odd years ago. A picture above a testimonial works even if the caption says "posed by professional model". I think the irrepressible Monroe Kane told me that.

What a a wonderful world we live in! I haven’t got time here to go into the smooth operator whose video made in what looks remarkably like a hotel room reveals how he took in $46,791.35 in 31 days. What a clever chap.

Seriously, though, just as they have warnings that smoking kills, they should have something a little stronger about this stuff. But then again I see a lot of stuff on TV about beauty products - "younger-looking skin" is a favourite - that you'd never get away with selling investments or insurance.

Monday, 17 January 2011

New book and course coming up - plus a good joke that's unfair to Americans

I have some new stuff for you soon - a new book, no less, which is really not new at all. (Yes: all marketers ARE liars).

Plus a new course, which you may like.

First, though, what is unfair to Americans? Well, it's a joke sent me by my Aussie partner Malcolm which goes like this:

The Marketing Departments of two rival American and Japanese companies decided to hold a boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance levels until both teams felt they were ready to demonstrate their prowess.

The big day arrived, and the Japanese won the race by a mile. The American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so they hired a consultant to investigate the problem and recommend corrective action.

The consultant's finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering. After a year of additional study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the consultant firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough people were rowing on the American team.

So as race day neared again the following year, the American team's management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers, and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

Again the big day dawned, the race began, and the Japanese team won by TWO miles. Humiliated, the American corporation laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.

Why is that unfair? Because it applies to big marketing departments in every country I have visited.

It took
one large energy company we dealt with 8 months to get a mailing out. The fact that they had eight people attending the first meeting should have warned me. And a lunatic arrangement whereby half of them worked the first part of the week and the rest the second part is almost a pure recipe for chaos.

Depressingly, as soon as marketing takes hold in less advanced countries, they all ignore the principles, but can't wait to import the bullshit.

Things are even worse
in the somnolent Groves of Academe. One world-famous business school in London that asked me to work with them seemed unable to even organise a meeting. And when they got me to come and do a seminar ... well!

What is this book I mentioned that isn't really new? It is a compilation (with tasteful improvements) of my 51 helpful marketing ideas. I did it because people rave about the ideas ... then often confess that they don't get round to reading them.

And what is this course I mentioned? It is an interactive course (yes, really: it asks you questions and you reply) based on my book Commonsense Direct and Interactive Marketing, designed in particular for professionals (lawyers, accountants and so on).

You know, I detest the word "exciting" but I am excited.

The course was created by people who specialise in learning techniques, and charge about $30,000 for putting something like this together. It is based on the different ways in which we all prefer - and find it easier - to learn.

To be honest I have been so busy that it took me weeks after the course had been created to look at it. When I did I was astounded. I thought it was really excellent. Anyhow, shortly you can be the judges.

The book has taken a year to put together - and of course I have lost all ability to judge it. We just have some of the illustrations to finalise, and then I shall launch it on a defenceless world.

More in a few days on both - probably the course first.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

True or false? And some thoughts on writing

"Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others" - Francis Bacon, who many thought was the "real" Shakespeare.

No wonder. Among my favourite quotations is Polonius' advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet: "This above all: to thine own self be true." Quite similar thoughts, aren't they?

Ironically, Bacon, a lawyer who rose to become Lord Chancellor ended his career in disgrace for taking bribes. Blair was a lawyer, too, and I see he is about to be questioned once more about his lies that led us into the Iraq war. He was smart enough to cash in after he finished his daytime job.

The quotation I started this with, by the way , was sent to me By Dr. Mardy Grothe, who sends out a selection of quotations every week, together with a little quiz. He's at www.DrMardy.com.

An interesting man, Dr. Mardy was one of pioneers of something that has become very fashionable - executive coaching. He does a lot of speaking, too.

I love quotations and reading - if I had spent more time on them than chasing women I would be a lot richer. No use despairing, though. Here's something I love from Gibbon about the emperor Gordian the Younger:

Twenty-two acknowledged concubines and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes attested the variety of his inclinations; and from the productions that he left behind him, it appears that both the one and the other were designed for use rather than for ostentation."

Winston Churchill perfected his writing style by reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when as a young man he sailed to India - a voyage which in those days took weeks.

Recently a few people have asked me what I think of various other copywriters. Here is another line from Dr. Johnson: "There are few things more risible in the farce of life than the reciprocal flattery of writers."

If I had any criticism to make of today's successful copywriters, many of whom I try to study and learn from, it is that they don't seem to have read much beyond that which is about making money. This makes a lot of their stuff pretty dull and repetitive.

That leads a neat observation, also from Bacon:
"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."

I'm in a bit of a panic today. I promised a student in India to do a video about some work I've done and I haven't started. Panic maketh a frantic man.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Elevator talk: a Spanish omelette, advice from Napoleon - and what I know about you

I got three sets of questions sent to me today.

One was from a U.S. professor who is writing a worryingly comprehensive book about writing to sell.

One was from a client in Asia who wanted to know how often to write to prospects, and how they could improve their copy.

One was from a lady in Barbados who was replying to something I foolishly put up saying "if you were stuck in an elevator with me, what five questions would you ask?"

Here is a sort of Spanish omelette made up of my replies:

The professor asked many questions, but one referred to how to adapt your writing to the web, and another was about the sins people commit.

So I went off on those.

The overwhelmingly important thing to say about writing is my variation on something John Caples once said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

He said “Times change, people don’t”.

I say “Media change; customers don’t.”

Apart from a few technical details – like the difference between paper and screens, and the limits imposed by spam filters there is no reason to believe you should change your writing that much for the web.

The common sins apply to online and off. They apply to blogs, sales-letters, speeches, presentations - everything.

To my client I said:

1. The question is not how often do you write, it is what you say when you write.

2. The aim is that people should look forward to getting it, not "more bloody sales stuff from them".

3. I suspect you veer too much to the latter.

4. One reason is that your stuff lacks charm and is cliched.

I get messages most days from someone saying "Thank you, I love this." I got two this morning.

That is because I want to help people - and in so doing I help myself.

It also makes life less of a bore.

I only replied to the last question from
the lady in Barbados, because the others were too hard. It was:

I’m your protégé and you are on your death bed, what
must you tell me before you pass on?

I replied in two parts

1. Study.

He or she who knows more can do more.

2. Don’t spend too much time talking about what you think you should do. Act.

When I look back on my life I regret not what I have done, but what I did not do.

Napoleon said something like, “The important thing is to make a decision. By the time you discover it was wrong you will have made five others which render it irrelevant."

Now, here’s what I know about you:

Thanks to everyone who has replied to my questions in the last 8 days.

From this I have learned that:

Many of you are interested in branding – nearly 130 so far. So I am definitely going to do an event on that.

Enough of you are interested in mentoring or coaching for me to go ahead. But some want it face to face and others at a distance. Been trying to sort that out today. Well, not me but my infinitely more practical colleague Chloe

Hardly any of you are interested in a copywriting seminar. I don’t believe you, so I’m still planning something on that.

None of you want to know how to sell cars, but I don’t care – I was asking the wrong people. I've just located the right one to ask.

Have a good weekend – but don’t imagine that just because you’re relaxing you can escape my cloying attentions.

For some reason I always get ideas on Saturday and Sunday ... and being a motor-mouth I feel compelled to tell people about them.

Happily for you, you don't have to listen.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Here's another fine selection of messes I've got myself in - but you can get me out

I have always had a strong fellow-feeling for Stan Laurel, as:

1. He was like me a Lancashire man.

2. He was always being blamed for getting himself and his colleague into fine messes.

The difference between him and me is first, he was a genius and I am not; second, he was unfairly blamed for the messes.

I make all my own very well and without help, thank you.

But sometimes things work out ok - with help from folks like you.

Today I find myself with several projects with promise, and I'm going to carry them all out. But your advice is essential. So here's what I have lined up.

1. The branding event with James Hammond. That is going ahead in April or May. We only plan for small numbers, already have about 120 people interested, and have started working out the agenda. Please tell me now if it interests you. Drayton@draytonbird.com is the address.

2. Mentoring. I just mentioned this casually here the other day and people seemed interested. In fact after I drafted this I had drinks in the Marquis of Granby (a pub, of course) with someone who said he wanted to give it a go.This is for VERY small numbers (no more than 20 in two groups) so if that interests you tell me.

3. Out of left field, do any of you have anything to do with selling cars?

I did a two day event in Cuba (!) for 60 or so people two years ago which was a wild success - I'm chairman of a firm that helps people like Volkswagen and Bentley sell cars and have worked for everyone from Audi and Aston Martin to Mercedes, Ford over the years.

So I'm thinking of repeating that, Let me know if you or someone you know might be interested

4. Would you like to write better copy? I am considering something in New York in April with my friend Howie Jacobson (author, Adwords for Dummies - but also a very good writer and superb teacher). Two of the last three times I've spoken in the U.S. I got standing ovations - or maybe people were just stampeding to get out.

Anyhow, let me know if that's of interest.

5. I forgot to mention my EADIM event www.EADIM.com in October. A few of you have signed up for that already, and I'm afraid you've missed the best price - but you can still get in on easy terms if you're interested and save a few hundred £££. Only 29 places left and 10 months to go

I won't bore you any more, though I do have two other things in mind, one rather spectacular in a well-known French Chateau.

But if any of that list interested you and you haven't told me already, please do so. Every time I look at myself in the mirror I think it's time I retired - so you may never get another chance.

On the other hand, I can think of a few people who'll be glad to see the back of me.

Please tell me if you can read this OK. I put it out in normal sized type, Georgia. But It always comes out small on my machine. Bring back the typewriter!

Monday, 10 January 2011

A lesson in bad writing - and Boris Johnson's folly

Here's the heading to the kind of White Paper that deserves to be carefully torn into squares and stuck in an outside toilet:

"Leveraging Rapid Process Application Development
Deployment, Adoption and Use for Business Value"

This was followed by the opening of yet another jargon bore-a-thon.

This white paper outlines how process improvement addresses many common and fundamental business issues that negatively impact operations at all levels of an organization, and impede its ability to sell to, service and support customers.

The paper also examines the increasing imperative to accelerate process improvement initiatives,and how the XXXXX Business Process Management (BPM) Suite drives rapid success.

The pompous fool who wrote that should be strung up by the testicles (or mammaries - no sexism about this) till they learn English or leave the country.


Meanwhile I was appalled to see posters - provided free, I believe - all over the underground featuring Wonga, who are like online pawnbrokers.

You can borrow short-term cash through them via the iPhone at massive interest rates of - I think - around 2,800%.

Boris Johnson, the exhibitionist Mayor of London, agreed to this in exchange for Wonga paying for free transport on New Year's Eve.

It is a deal made with the devil and he should be ashamed of himself.

You can get up to £1,000 from Wonga if you need bridging over before your next payday.

These are mafioso interest rates.

The Wonga-thieves justify them by saying it's only short term.

But this sort of thing is habit forming. The £1,000 could turn to a debt of £2,861 within six months - and thanks to our "nobody fails" educational system, half the population can barely add up, let alone work something like that out.

As one
Daily Mail reader pointed out, "We've had this type of loan in Sweden for a few years and it really spiralled out of control. No proper credit checks and young people thinking of it as easy money. It wrecked a lot of young people's credit scores."

So many poor people were enslaved by this in earlier years that when I was young interest rates of over 50% were illegal. They should be again, and it is one useful thing Cameron and his crew should act on.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

George Clooney, Jamie Oliver, Oprah Winfrey - and my butterfly mind

How interesting to compare useless sluts like Paris Hilton with people like George Clooney.

He puts his fame to good use and is off to Sudan to try and see what is up with the elections being run by the murderous regime there. Besides being an exceptionally fine actor he is a good man - as far as I can see.

The same with Jamie Oliver, so successful that although he promotes for Sainsbury's
their greatest competitor Tesco feel they have to sell his products. He works hard trying to stop people digging their graves with their teeth and helping young people escape the results of our miserable educational system.

I don't know much about Oprah Winfrey. She must find it impossible to keep her head amidst such constant adulation, but I have always thought anyone who rose from such dire poverty to such astounding success must be admirable. Anyhow, I've always been fascinated by her, maybe because I have a lot of African-American family connections.

I mention her today because James Hammond who I am doing the Branding event with just sent me something she said about mentoring - a word I hate.

"A mentor
allows you to see the hope inside yourself."

Isn't that good?

What has that to do with my butterfly mind? Well, I toyed with mentoring a year or so ago and have been running a small group ever since.

Each time we meet they ask me what I am doing to promote the idea, but I've never got organised - I take on too many things at once. However many people claim they have succeeded with my help**, and I get kind messages most days, so maybe I should give it another go.

If the subject interests you, let me know. I see it as a very small Mastermind group - maximum ten.

In the meantime, I should tell you that within four days over 120 people have said they're interested in the branding event - probably more than we can cope with. I'll tell you more early in the week.

I had another two ideas yesterday, but I won't bore you with them yet.

** Help takes strange forms. When I was in New York a while ago the worldwide head of
OgilvyOne told his colleagues that my help when he was running the Toronto office mainly consisted of insulting him and eating expensive lunches. However, he did admit that it worked.

Friday, 7 January 2011

When I was 16 ... and a mystery

I went to France to live en famille and learn the language.

My timing was a bit off.

I arrived on the day of a general strike. Not good, as we - my French exchange partner Gerard Thaler and I - had to travel to Paris then across France to the Jura, and this was the most complete, all-embracing strike I believe they have had in my lifetime.

On my way back to England, I recall feeling ashamed at the self satisfied, conceited English people I saw (this was only 6 years after a war we had won). To cloak my identity I spoke French all the way to London, hoping I wouldn't be associated with them.

I was reminded of this when watching the cricket in Australia.

Few things are more nauseating than England fans when we win. Pretty ridiculous when it happens so rarely.

Just to put things in context: when you look at what really matters a recent survey reveals we are:

24th in quality and quantity of infrastructure; which incorporates 8th for telecoms, 18th for electricity, 20th for railways, 24th for roads, 27th for aviation.

On the overall measure Singapore, Germany, France (yes, France) and Finland are the first four on average.

One triumph we enjoyed that was omitted was No 2 for obesity, having overtaken the Germans, who really must try harder.

I don’t know how well we're doing on illiteracy, gullibility, teenage pregnancy, fatuous delusions about football and smugness.

Hate to think.

But here is the mystery. If the place is so dreadful, how come there are more foreigners than natives living in my block off the King's Road? How come so many come here - and stay?

And how come my friends (not English, by the way - Italian and Russian) find it so horrid living in Paris?

There are clearly some attractive facets of our national psyche that my teenage self never spotted.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Nothing changes

My beloved just bought me a gigantic book of old New Yorker cartoons.

This one dates back 77 years to the last great financial collapse. It reminded me of my recent post about Cameron and the mystical "we" politicians always talk about when they mean you and me.

The greatest exponent of this was THE maestro of schmooze, Bill Clinton.

"I feel your pain," he would say.

But did he have any intention of sharing it?

Do any of the rogues?

Monday, 3 January 2011

If you want to survive, you must understand this marketing miracle

What lives on when people die?

What persuades people to pay more for something that is no better than alternatives - and sometimes worse?

What makes otherwise sane business-people spend millions for no seemingly sane reason?

What should always be in the back of your mind every time you send out a message or make a business decision?

One word answers all these questions.

The brand.

Managers come and go. Factories may move from one country to another. Products change. And yes, people do die.

But the brand can live on forever. People will pay a lot more just for a brand and what it says about the buyer - even though they know it is no better than the unbranded alternative.

It is like a business safety net. If you have a strong brand people forgive your mistakes. You can live off the "fat" of your brand for years without even advertising.

Here's an example of a brand that's been around since before you were born.

That commercial is over 60 years old. But the brand is still around - stronger than ever with many profitable variations on the original.

Your true long-term business objective should revolve around building the brand.

Yet this is something marketers talk about all the time - and much of the talk is rubbish.

Would you like to know how to build a brand, and what it can do for you?

I have a friend who knows more about this, and can explain it more clearly and entertainingly than anyone I know.

His name is James Hammond and he wrote an excellent book on the subject for the Sunday Times business books series which is currently being reprinted. He explains the secrets of the brand better than anyone I know.

And you may be amazed to know that I know a bit myself. For 8 years I was on the board of Superbrands and have actually run seminars in several countries on the subject. And I've helped firms like Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, IBM and American Express

I am planning an event on this in Spring on How to Build a Brand, probably in conjunction with a university here.

Would you like to know more? Would you like to see James talking about this?

Just reply to me, Drayton@Draytonbird.com saying "Brand" and I will keep in touch.