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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Things I will leave with relief when I die

Years ago an art director at O & M in Toronto, enraged beyond endurance by an asinine client who kept making pettifogging changes to his layout, asked coldly, "Where were you when I had the idea?"

In days of yore when Madmen roamed the earth, Marty Stein, my very New York Art Director at PKL, used to say dealing with such wretches was like being nibbled to death by ducks.

I fondly dreamt that when I attained a certain competence I would be respected sufficiently to be spared this sort of irritating nonsense. Fat chance.

A few months back I did an ad for a client who had been pissing away a ton on ads that got no response, so I banged one out that got scads of leads which didn't convert very well, I assume because his conversion material was shit.

Then he asked me to do another which is the best thing I've done in ages, mainly because my art director Chris Jones took my sketchy idea and made it work. The client loved this little masterpiece, which has been going through the torment of compliance ever since.

You would think he would behave himself - but no. Another job we have just finished had to be redone twice because the man kept changing the brief. In the end he told us exactly what he wanted, right down to the flotilla of logos at the bottom and we gave it to him. Never again.

Some people you just can't help, like the marketing director who fucked me around once, then came back on bended knees after she joined another firm. For her I wrote a mailing that pulled 78% response and more orders than they'd ever had. Did that stop her nasty habits and general folly? No chance.

She got me involved in a "rebranding" - useless jargon which meant bringing in her pet designer, whom she paid to make her perfectly adequate, quite elegant brochure uglier and less readable. In the process she conned me into writing an amazing amount of copy for far too little money. I take comfort in the thought that the industry she works in is sorely hit by the recession.

Another two creeps managed between them to dishearten one of the most able and by far the most hard-working person I have ever worked with so much she quit - to get another job paying twice as much.

Recently I asked how she was getting on. "It's great" she said. "I get twice as much done because I don't have to spend half my time on the phone with idiots."

These know-nothing loafers spring up like toadstools. Why do I always mistake them for mushrooms? Hardly any have even bothered to study the bare basics of advertising or marketing.

David Ogilvy used to have a note pinned up on his wall: "Please God, send us smart clients." They are the ones that make it worthwhile, but I wish a few of the others would curl up and die. Before me, please.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Here's a splendid marketing lesson - especially for anyone young who wants a job

Joel Helfer is one of many people I correspond with, and he sent me a story that's a pretty good marketing lesson for anyone selling anything.

Joel's eldest son Zach is a graduate Architecture Student at the University of Illinois.

He's diligent (Joel says, being totally unbiased) in the top ten percent of his class, and had two summer jobs as an undergrad.

At the beginning of 2010, the construction job market in the Chicago Metro area was horrible. No jobs.

Zach was terribly frustrated, wondering if he'd chosen the right field.

Joel reassured him - after being been a glass and glazing contractor for over 35 years he was used to the ups and downs of the construction business (If you want to know what's happening to the economy, ignore the politicians who are mostly professional liars. Ask builders, cab drivers, restaurateurs and printers).

Timing is everything, and Joel had sold his business right before the crash.

Casting round for something to do he took some courses with Jeff Walker and Brendon Burchard, did some product launches and made out O.K.

But he hardly realised how this would help Zach - after a fair amount of trial and error

Here's what he and Zach did.

They bought the URL "www.hirezachhelfer.com" from Godaddy - the entire message in the URL.

They then sent up a simple wordpress blog - he bought three simple themes for under $100.

Zach set up a simple header with his picture and his contact information.

There were more pages for his resume and portfolio, giving all the information any firm hiring architects could want.

As David Ogilvy said, you can't save souls in an empty church. Who should they promote the website to?

So Joel went to the AIA website, and compiled a list of 400 architects around Chicago.

Now they had a list, what to send?

Joel decided to send an email article on the top ten things an architect should know, with links in the article back to the website.

The website also contained an interesting story about Zach, with a headline to catch their eye.

They put up a screen capture on the site to introduce him and sent out an email in early 2010 that got about a 60% open rate, which is pretty good.

They got 17 comments, 16 favourable, one not.

Zach got 3 interviews, one asking him to do marketing for an architecture firm, but got no summer jobs.

They didn't give up. Two more emails went out that spring and summer to remind firms who Zach was and what he wanted:.a job.

In winter of 2011, they revised the video, making it real, not just a screen capture.They shot it in their living room using a tripod and a Canon camera with a video option. (You don't need fancy equipment to make videos. I use a cheap Kodak). You can see what they created on the site.

They sent out the video again with new emails, and got a smaller response, but it was just before a career fair at the U of I which was attended by over 20 architecture firms.

To Zach's surprise, most of the firm reps knew him, and even called him by name, He had his resumes to pass out, but two firms said that wasn't necessary.

They already had them - downloaded from his website.

As Joel said, "Wow. It really worked."

As a result of that career fair after a marketing campaign lasting over a year Zach got two interviews, which led to a full time decently paid summer job, 20 minutes from home.

Zach came up with a pretty neat line. "I am not looking for a summer job. I consider this a 3 month interview for a full time job!" That line worked wonders and impressed many prospective employers.

What can you learn from this?

They used the latest internet marketing ideas - which are nothing new, really.

Zach was the lead, with the normal resume in the background

People buy from people - and in this case a person is what they were buying. I have been telling people for decades: your resume is far less important than your letter, just as the letter in a direct mail pack is far more critical than the brochure.

They did not give up. It took time; it was a campaign, not just the one shot most people take when sending out a resume, with no follow- up. I was irresistibly reminded of all the idiot clients who've said to me "we tried direct mail. It didn't work." Would you just "try" medicine?

They continually tweaked and improved. They measured the results - which again, a lot of marketers still don't do properly. Incredible stupidity!

They sent out 1600 emails over 14 months with an average CTR of over 40%.

They got over 30 replies, 29 favorable with 5 interviews - and the one thing they wanted: a summer job

And Zach is now one of the best known Architecture students around Chicago - which is famed for its architecture - and has made lots of valuable connections that will help him in his career.

Joel says that Zach thought he was crazy through most of this. Father knows best - well, sometimes!

This story reminded me of an interview I filmed with Rory Sutherland for my branding seminar in which we discussed the utter amateurishness of most marketers. The overwhelming majority don't go about things as intelligently as Joel did.

I might add that no matter what business you think you're in, the business you are in whether you like it or not is marketing.

By the way, Zach could hardly offer people much of a special discount, but I shall start offering some discounts in the next 12 hours..

If you come to any of my forthcoming seminars you will get a discount off my www.EADIM.com event in October, which is about nothing but marketing.

If you come to EADIM you will get a discount off the branding event I will run either immediately before or after that. And if you don't understand branding, you don't know enough about marketing

Why so generous with the discounts? Well, as they say in Italy, "One hand washes the other".

And the sooner I get EADIM filled up, the more I can concentrate on perfecting it - and the less on promoting it.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Weddings, funerals, coronations - my late father's caustic views. Plus a question for you

Well, here comes another royal wedding, with the usual cartloads of nauseating pap from the arse end of the media.

As usual, Murdoch's people are doing their best to burrow as far as possible into the slime. Yesterday's headline in The Sun, which never shines, revealed - shock, horror! - that King Norodom of Cambodia (whom none of their "readers" has ever heard of) is not coming. Good man: why should he squander his poor country's wealth on a jolly to London?*

I'm sure this awful tripe embarrasses the happy couple more than anyone else, but I see that Kate alone is reckoned to be worth more in added national income than the Olympics (which I fear may take years to pay for - Greece is still in debt).

All the fuss reminds me of my father's views on such occasions.

George Bird was very funny, with political views about 200 yards to the right of Attila the Hun. People came from far and wide to hear him shoot his mouth off - and in quite a few cases, male and female to gaze, panting, at my mother, who was very beautiful.

He once told me "I prefer funerals to weddings. At weddings people get drunk and start fights, and anyhow most marriages end up in tears one way or another. At a funeral if the corpse had a few quid, at least one person and maybe more is bound to end up better off."

The first time I ever saw TV, by the way, was for the Coronation of the present Queen. I cried -which I do at the drop of a hat - and I am a committed royalist.

Imagine a mafia-backed lecher like Blair's friend Berlusconi running things indefinitely. Or a man like Bush who starts disastrous wars for oil money? Or a racist dwarf like Sarkozy, who's going to prosecute people who fly over his holiday villa.

Incidentally, this made me cry in 1953. It still does. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkWtA4-34VE

* By the way, I once wrote a speech for King Norodom's cousin as a result of a seminar I did in Bangkok - but that's a story for another day.

P.S. My writing seminar in Bristol has sold 24 seats out of 40 in five working days, so here's a question, if you're interested.

Where do you live? I will do more seminars but I need to know where is best. Just send me your address if you're interested. I'll fly anywhere for fun and money :-)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Oh dear. Rumblings in the internet jungle. The cash-flood is drying up - and here's why

Before the first great British share crash - the South Sea Bubble in 1720 - investors were falling for the most outrageous scams. The best known, perhaps, was "a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is."

This reminds me irresistibly of what has been happening on the internet - which I fear will end in tears before bedtime for a few people

All of a sudden those geniuses whose miracle money-making formulae have been producing torrents of cash for the last years are worried. The cash geyser seems to be slowing to a trickle

Why? Why are these messages not working quite so well? You know - those that start "My good friend Bill Hogwash has this secret method that spews cash into your bank account even if you can't read and write, and it's yours for FREEE."

Why do more and more people yawn and mutter "Not again" when invited to that free webinar featuring the unshaven oaf with a pot-belly in the T-shirt who was broke three months ago but now spends his entire time lolling on golden sands and working 23 minutes a week?

Of course these scamps (why are so many in Texas, by the way?) are still doing some business - there is still one mug born every second - but not like they did.

It's not as though people realise that the boys all get together and cook up the next rip-off. But things are going to get worse (or rather better) and let me tell you why. First of all, there aren't so many people coming into the market now. Second, people get jaded if subjected to too much of anything.

But besides that there are three stages in all markets.

When you're the first to come up with an idea you just have to make promises, really. No matter how ludicrous, as long as the promises are big enough and the story enticing enough, you'll do well.

Then comes the second stage. Competitors emerge: you have to be a bit smarter. Don't just tell people they'll get rich, say it's $242,862 in 24 hours, show the cash coming in, stick in a few testimonials.

Then there's the third stage. Everybody's got into the act. The punters are getting wise. You had better, too. You have to explain a bit more. You have to recall David Ogilvy's great line: "The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife."

Don't get me wrong. Many of the ideas being proposed are absolutely valid.

The product launch formula is just an internet version of what Hollywood has done for decades, and P. T. Barnum did long before. It IS true that if you dream of something in detail it is more likely (but not certain) to come true. It is true that with advice from somebody good, you'll do better. But you don't have to pay $10,000 and join some magic circle of acolytes to do so. Just read the stuff and act.

The thing is, when you're the first to stumble on an idea, your copy can stink and you'll do OK. But a lot of these scamsters' copy is not all that good - you know, stuff beginning with "I gotta tell ya". A lot of it breaks the first rule - don't talk about yourself, talk about your customer.

One of my heroes is the late Charley Brower, who ran B.B.D&0. "Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous."

Anyhow, having got that off my chest, if it makes sense why don't you go to draytonbird.net/copywritingseminar.

I announced this on Sunday evening. There are only 24 seats left.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Enter the dragon who escaped - with a bit of fun for you,

Do you watch Dragon's Den? Here's a reminder.

I do occasionally, but am not that keen. It's not as absurd as "Lord" Sugar's proving ground for illiterates - which I always see as a humiliating demonstration of the failure of British education - but I've never really taken to it.

Maybe it's the man who looks like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's the loony values people ascribe to their loopy ideas. Or maybe it's just the sheer nastiness of that women with a face like a boot.

I don't know, but anyhow I had lunch today with Doug Richard who used to be on it, so before we met I looked him up on the internet. He is "economically conservative and socially liberal". I like that.

But I also found something that summed up the complete uselessness and waste perpetrated by governments when they try to help business.

In a report he worked on for the Tories he found the Labour Government had spent £12bn on support schemes for business,with absolutely zero evidence of any results; in fact he unearthed 3,000 schemes run by 2,000 public bodies.

His report was, of course, just a stratagem for the Tories to attack the then government Now that they're in they're pissing away money faster than even the great Bloated McToad did.

No worries, though. At least we have a Minister for Cycling. I wonder, does he cycle to work every day? Does he have staff? If so, why? What the hell do they do all day? Watch porn?

I hope to be doing something with Doug to help small businesses, unless one lunch put him off for life. It has been known to happen.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Once again, Tom Fishburne hits the bull's-eye

Here's yet another rib-tickling insight from Tom into the vast yawning chasm between the catatonic moon-gazing in marketing departments and real life.

Tom has this extraordinary ability, week after week, to make cartoons that pin down the lunacy of what passes for thinking in the empty minded halls of commerce.

A shining beacon of sense in a dreary world. Find him here: http://tomfishburne.com/2011/04/brand-storytelling.

And if you're looking for an envelope idea - well, I can tell you: good cartoons work a treat.

What struck me, too, is that fine minds think alike. Last Sunday in Leicester James Hammond made exactly the same point several times in different ways.

P. S. I hope to put up full details of the Bristol copywriting event on June 2oth within 24 hours. 6 tickets out of 40 already sold. And within a week or so I also hope to have edited videos of the branding event.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Brand Doctor did the trick - with the help of an orange monkey and Pavlov's dogs

If you want to know how not to manage events, I'm your man.

But even by my own demented standards I thought I'd blown it with the branding seminar we just finished.

So just in case you ever want to make things hard on yourself, just follow the following cack-handed recipe.

1. Run your event at short notice - in two months, for instance, so you don't have time to promote properly.

2. Find a venue that's a) hard to get to for quite a few people b) where you've never been in your life c) which nobody you ever met sees as somewhere to have a good time d) Get the dates mixed-up for the first two or three weeks, so everyone including the speakers is confused.

And that's about it, except it's also a neat idea to stay in a hotel backing on to a railway station so people can't get to sleep at night - and may decide to during the day.

I managed all that for our little thrash at De Montfort Business school in Leicester - and we survived.

That was mainly because people forgave my stupidity and came from as far away as Valencia. But also because Nikki at De Montfort was very helpful, Leicester has some nice places to eat, young Chloe organised well and equally young Ben Saffer was great with the filming and - well, the speakers really did a great job.

Rory Sutherland was hilarious and perceptive, as ever; Steve Harrison as laconic and biting as usual; James Joice of JKR did a brilliant talk on design ... but the real star was James Hammond, the Brand Doctor.

I'd only seen him in video, thought he was funny and perceptive. But I didn't really know how he would handle a roomful of delegates for a day - especially with such a varied range of businesses - a magazine, a car hire firm, a restaurant, a business coach, a financial advisor - and a quite a few more. I don't think they had anything in common except a desire to do better.

How the heck do you help such a varied lot to build a brand? Well Mr. Hammond managed it.

I'm going to stick up some comments in a few days, and we filmed everything. But I had no idea just how good he is. Surprising, challenging, sardonic about the rebranding buffoons, astoundingly well-informed – especially about how the brain works - and he gets people to think and work things out for themselves.

As a qualified psychologist he clearly should know the right buttons to touch, but if after a day with him you don't feel inspired and haven’t found at least ten brilliant ways to build or improve your business, you haven’t been paying attention.

The picture, by the way, is one of his slides, which made us all laugh - but there were quite a few others. I STILL don't know what the orange monkey was about.

Anyhow, before the event I had sworn I would never do it again. But who knows?

P.S. A few people have already signed up for my copywriting event in Bristol. The more of you come, the lower the price.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

"You Can't Help Some People" A joke sent by a friend in Afghanistan

A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the oasis, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand, selling ties...

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only £5."

The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an over-priced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!

"OK," said the old Jewish man, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need. Shalom."

Cursing, the Taliban staggered away over the hill.

Several hours later he staggered back, almost dead and said:

"Your f****ing brother won't let me in without a tie!"

Thursday, 14 April 2011

My favourite messages of the last 24 hours - my goodness, they could really make you rich

Those of you who cherish the out-pourings of the shit-for-brains creeps who infest cyberspace will like this.

I think perhaps the most illiterate attempt ever to rip me off came half an hour ago.

Even in its over-exploited genre it had a peculiar charm of its very own, right down to the esoteric spelling of a good old Scots name:

A message from Mcmilan Marshall mcmilan8282

I am Mr Mcmilan Marshall, Retired Marine Director here in London , England .However, I have already sent you this same letter by post a one month ago, but I am not sure that the letter promptly gets to you since I have not heard from you, now I am resending it again. I want to trust this investment fund in your care, It will be in my interest to transfer this fund worth of ? £6.5M Great British Pounds(Six Million Five hundred thousand Pounds Sterling) in an account offshore. Can you be my partner? Regards and respect, please kindly send me your Cell phone number, And tell me your opinion.

Mr. Marshal.

What is a Marine Director, by the way?

But setting that aside, also coming up a bit short on the literary front is an auto-responder called dylancconroy@gmail.com on behalf of dconroy@ferrazzigreenlight.com

It wrote telling me that he (Dylan, I assume) "Wanted to see if you had any interest talking about Keith's Relationship Masters Academy."

Who is Keith, you may ask? Well, he is Keith Ferrazzi, has a big smile, knows a lot of clich├ęs, has done a deal with Cisco and persuaded them his Academy can really change your life.

It seems:

Research has proven that the strength and breadth of your Human Network is the most predictive element of your personal and professional success. And the more authentic your relationships the better! Keith Ferrazzi, thought leader and co-founder of the Relationship Masters Academy will guide you through seven simple but extremely valuable and effective missions that will allow you to purposefully build new relationships and skillfully strengthen and manage the ones you already have for immediate results.

Well, how about that? Or as you might say, what pretentious tripe.

Lee Iacocca who once rescued Chrysler put it rather better when he said "If you want to succeed you'd better get on with people, because that's all we've got around here."

And Dale Carnegie's How to make friends and influence people tells you what to do in plain English rather than corporate gobbledegook.

Anyhow, Dylan is West Coast head of sales for Keith's Academy, but his auto-responder or whichever airhead writes its stuff clearly doesn't know England has not actually been on the West Coast for as far back as I can remember. So undeterred he wrote yesterday in a chummy sort of way saying,

Hey Drayton, Wanted to see if you had any interest talking about Keith's Relationship Masters Academy. All the best. Dylan Dylan Conroy|RelationshipMastersAcademy.com Head of West Coast Sales 323-420-6250 dconroy@ferrazzigreenlight.com

I wrote back one word: Why?

His auto-responder replied in semi-literate fashion saying: Trying to remember the providence (I assume he means provenance) of our introduction. I think it was Bob Sering?

I replied "His name is Bob Serling. If you can't spell it, I really doubt if we can do any business."

I ask you, what is the matter with people's education and commonsense if they fall for this stuff? And how does a man get to be head of sales of anything if he can't write English?

More to the point, what is Cisco doing in business with these people?

By the way, for those of you who have asked - there are quite a few - yes, we are filming the branding event, and I will be whizzing out a clip of Rory Sutherland and myself talking in the tiny Fellows' Study at the Royal Society for Arts about the subject later.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Do you sincerely want to be rich? Then watch out for the three card trick

This is provoked by three things.

First, the daily torrent of lies from people who claim in various ways that they think of nothing, night and day, but making me rich and successful - and I won’t have to pay a penny to find out.

Second, a recent exchange with one of the few people who have really interesting ideas and express them well. Howie Jacobson, the co-author of Adwords for Dummies told me he didn’t enjoy being in the same business as so many grasping charlatans.

Third, an old book I found on my shelves about Bernie Cornfeld, one of the great fraudsters of the 20th century, called Do you seriously want to be rich.

All this took me back some 20 odd years when I went to a big direct marketing jamboree in Wembley, London.

A lady at the bar said to me - with the kindest of intentions, I am sure - “It’s great that gurus like you come and talk to the rest of us.”

I had never heard the word guru used about a trade as lowly as direct marketing, thought it ludicrous – and still do. But it has caught on like the Black Death. Nowadays anyone with the slightest competence is a guru, and those who are quite good are hailed as visionaries and geniuses.

This is absurd.

But people regularly ask me what I think of some of these guys.

How can I say this one is a rogue, that one a liar, the other should be in jail, the fourth seems a bit mad, I wouldn’t trust the fifth as far as I could throw him and am amazed that anyone sane would give money to people who can’t be bothered or don’t know how to write good English?

When someone asks you (after the usual freebies or discounted offers) to pony up thousands to be "mentored", or belong to their special circle of friends, or step up to the next level, first ask yourself who else they have helped?

One man I know makes many claims, but doesn’t mention that (as I discovered with a little research) one of his chief skills seems to be putting companies into liquidation. He has done it 10 times.

Another seems to run his business from accommodation addresses or in one case, from an address that didn’t actually exist.

Another takes the fairly simple business of selling stuff and makes it seem so complicated people think he’s a genius. I asked two delegates at one if his seminars if they understood what he was talking about.

“No,” they replied.

“Nor do I” was my response.

But people think if it’s hard to understand it must be brilliant.

I would say if you can’t understand it, how the hell can you do it?

Others in this piratical crew shower you with testimonials from ecstatic customers or say their copy has worked miracles. But testimonials from whom? Copy for whom? People you’ve never heard of. Firms of no account. Small-time local businesses, or highly specialised ones.

That is relevant. Not because helping small businesses is easy. Nor because writing good copy doesn’t matter. Not because it’s easy to do well in a special niche. But because it is not the same as playing in the big leagues, and you shouldn’t be paying big money for relatively small thinking.

But people are so eager to succeed that they fail to notice these things. They sincerely want to be rich.

But wishing will not make it so.

I’m sorry, but the man who tells you he is dying to make you rich and successful is far more interested in doing so for himself.

The man who says you can be a highly paid marketing consultant after just a few lessons is talking rubbish.

The man who promises you can coach others to succeed without having succeeded yourself is a liar.

The man who claims you can become a writer and make money when you don’t even know where to put an apostrophe is taking the piss.

But there is a good way to protect yourself.

Just ask: does this sound too good to be true? Because if so, it usually is.

And study the process, which is as old as the three card trick.

In that trick, sometimes called Spot the Lady you see a man who is swapping cards around and all you have to do is bet on where the queen has ended up. Other people seem to be winning money. It seems easy.

So you have a go, and you lose your money*. You didn’t realise the “winners” you saw were what they call shills - confederates of the operator.

In the same way you don’t realise when you see the people who have allegedly made fortunes from some guru’s advice that they are either the rare ones, the exceptions or sometimes just friends of the person selling to you.

Nothing changes, really.

Bernie Cornfeld ran what they used to call a pyramid scheme. Some people made money. Most lost it.

Today pretty much the same thing is called MLM – multi-level marketing. Only 2% of those who try it succeed.

The same principle applies to nearly all these things. Be warned.

But also profit from what you see. These people are extremely good at what they do: take money off people. By studying that you can indeed learn a lot - and it won't cost you all that much.

* In his book In for a penny my now-retired client Peter Hargreaves of Hargreaves Lansdown tells how he was taken in by the three card trick.

But he also tells how he and his partners built what I am sure is the best financial marketing-based business in this country. You will learn a lot from it

Monday, 11 April 2011

"It's all our fault" ... "Cool Britannia" ... and other dumb ideas

A few things I wonder.

Is it even remotely intelligent to go one of the most corrupt countries on earth where the man in charge is called Mr 110% (I wonder why?) and dish out oceans of cash that you know will never reach the people who need it?

If the place you're supposed to be running is in deep shit, facing the worst depression in 80 years, shouldn't you get your smart little arse back there and do something useful?

Should you, for instance make some sort of effort to deliver on the promises you made to get to your present position? Like closing down all the useless money-gobbling committees (one of which I shall shortly reveal is doing exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to do).

Does it make the people who elected you feel any better when you run around telling all and sundry that all the world's problems are our fault? Is it not likely to make them feel even worse than they do already?

The people who run things here are breathtakingly out of touch with what we all think.

There was the waffle about the Big Society which nobody understood and Cameron couldn't explain. I recall Blair's mystic Third Way - equally incomprehensible. And the demented re-brand of Britain as Cool Britannia, when what people like, as we can see, is a good old-fashioned Royal Wedding.

Believe it or not, all this came to mind because of a discussion I had about my current pet project, the branding event ... for which, by the way, I am offering unlimited savings.

Hard to believe, but true.

Moreover I will explain next Saturday exactly what the antics of politicians have to do with a brand.

Equally hard to believe, but if anything even more important.

Friday, 8 April 2011

At last! Miracle Vitamin Drayton

Remember the restaurant scene in When Harry met Sally when she says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Well, every day kind people tell me they like my ramblings, but this from Ian Dunsford had me in stitches.

“A lot of folks take vitamin supplements and all manner of potions and pills to improve just about any body part and condition.

There's one that I have nearly every day (dependent on supplier) and that's Vitamin Drayton.

It improves vision and clarity, and stimulates the mind and imagination, and the agility to adjust processes.”

Thanks, Ian. And thanks to all those who send me encouraging messages like that.

Sad to say, Vitamin Drayton is not as good as this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nNhOH4Y0bI.

But I just thought I’d remind you that there’s 7 days to go before the next fix is available.

And if you like the idea, well you can get a booster in October at £1,000 off, at www.eadim.com.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

He was doing what he loved and hating every minute of it

I got a lot of comments about this when I sent it out to my list, so if you haven´t seen it, here it is:

Maybe you sometimes think I'm talking piffle, but are too polite to say so.

Thank goodness I do get it right every now and then.

This is an unedited comment from a reader on what I sent you yesterday:

"You make excellent points in this email, and I have experienced this myself in my own business.

If you don't mind I would like to share my own personal story.

I started out as a "discount" provider and it was miserable. I attracted the worst possible customers and the more I gave the more they wanted, but at no extra cost to them mind you.

My customer satisfaction rate was abysmal, my job satisfaction was non existent... along with my profits.

I was doing what I loved and hating every minute of it.

Finally I said enough's enough. I raised my prices by 500% and established very clearly I compete on quality and nothing else.

I lost 90% of my customers overnight.

But the ones that stayed, and more importantly the new ones that suddenly appeared... attracted by my higher rates like moths to a flame, more than made up for it.

Before I raised my rates I was working 12 hour days 7 days a week for miserable people - impossible to satisfy who viewed not just my service, but myself as a commodity and losing money while I did it.

Now, since I raised my rates I have clients who view me and my service as something special, and feel like they are still getting tremendous value.

I work just 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week (and am working hard to bring that down to just 5 hours a day 4 days a week) and the last 4 months have been the most profitable in the history of my company. In fact the last 3 months my company has earned more than it did in the 18 months previous to the price hike!

Thanks Drayton for all the wonderful insights - Ash Goodman."

Well if you´d like some more insights from me and people who are full of practical ideas, just go here.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

My beautiful Thai mirror - and why the the size of your bottom makes a difference

I have a beautiful mirror from Thailand which was given to me as thank you by the Thai Management Association quite a few years ago, when I made an after dinner speech.

At the dinner I sat next to the boss of Unilever in Thailand. Their great rivals are, of course, Procter & Gamble, and he told me an instructive story with some glee.

It seems P & G wanted to enter the market for nappies or diapers in Japan with their successful brand Pampers. They failed miserably. It was nothing to do with the advertising or distribution. It was because they had not taken the trouble to find out two things, one quite obvious, the other not.

First, amazingly enough, Japanese babies have smaller bottoms than American babies.

Second, Japanese mothers are much more painstaking than American mothers, and change diapers far more often.

Net results of not doing their reconnaissance properly: they invested $2 billion and lost the lot.

By contrast when Honda entered the Californian market with their motor bikes, they did allow for the fact that American bottome are bigger than Japanese ones. Of course, that was not the only reason they succeeded, but they surely would have failed otherwise.

People often spend far too much time talking about big ideas and strategy and far too little paying attention to detail. Getting the details right will do far more for your brand than fancy ad campaigns.

You can transform a brand´s success without any advertising at all. My colleagues did this for the Mercedes M class a few years ago. My only contribution was to write a very fancy booklet and a letter to go with it. How was it done?

Well, you'll have to trek all the way to De Montfort University Business School to find that out. It´s an hour away from London. Do you think you can manage that?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A little wisdom from Dr. Mardy

Do you like quotations? I love and collect them. I can sit quite happily for hours reading any decent dictionary of them. Good ones are distilled wisdom.

Of course, being pathetically vain and insecure I am always thrilled when someone quotes me (and livid when they don't credit me).

Dr. Grote Mardy must love quotations even more than I do. He sends a selection out every week - find him at
www.drmardy.com. So I was vastly flattered when a couple of years ago a friend sent one of my lines to Dr. Mardy and he used it.

I think it was "Nothing fails like success". Or it could have been "The road to failure is paved with success".

See? I have very few ideas and am so thrilled when I have one that I keep playing with it.

That preamble reminds me of three favourites. Einstein was asked why he wrote so few books. He replied, "I have very few ideas."

De la Rochefoucauld said much the same thing twice: "We can always bear the mnisfortunes of our friends with equanimity" and "There is something not entirely displeasing in the misfortunes of our friends."

Here are some quotes sent by Dr. Mardy yesterday.

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

"I have begun in old age to understand...that we seldom if ever realize how generous we are to ourselves, and just how stingy with others." Saul Bellow

"When I can no longer bear to think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones." Peter De Vries

"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." Benjamin Disraeli

"Our friends are generally ready to everything for us, except the very thing we wish them to do." William Hazlitt

" Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better." Edgar Watson Howe

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." William James

"A study came out this week that said one out of four American workers is angry at work. And the other three save it for the loved ones at home." Bill Maher

" You Always Hurt the One You Love." Title of song by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher, first recorded by The Mills Brothers in 1944 (Opening Lyric: "You always hurt the one you love, The one you shouldn't hurt at all. You always take the sweetest rose, And crush it till the petals fall").

Does anyone today write lyrics one tenth as good as that? Of course not. And why? Poor education - the greatest scourge of our times.

Incidentally, does anyone know why the editing function on this wretched system has gone mad? All of a sudden, no matter what I do the preview shows everything as one unbroken block of text.