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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Thoughts on India, the decline of the west and all that happy stuff

There's a very interesting piece in today's New York Times about the sudden interest in politics among the Indian middle class.

They've finally got fed up with the astounding level of corruption in Indian politics - the problem being that the people who elect the politicians are the poor, who far outnumber the middle class.

When I first went to India in 1987 I commented to a friend that they had some of the cleverest business people on earth struggling against a government determined to make doing business as near as dammit impossible through a poisonous combination of bureaucracy and corruption.

That was because those running things were a) socialists and b) thieves. The socialism may have gone to a large degree, but the theft remains, allied to a worrying and growing amount of religious bigotry.

Can a country be truly successful when it is so greatly corrupt? I look at places like China, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia - not to mention Italy - and doubt it.

Interesting Indian statistic: McKinsey reckons the Indian middle class will be 600 million by 2030 - the size of the entire population when I first went there.


Bill Bonner, writing in The Daily Reckoning suggests that it's no surprise people are protesting about inequality - and if he were in their place he would, too. He also draws a compelling comparison with the past:

When the US embraced its empire it condemned its middle classes. Why? Because that’s how empires work. They bring in cheap goods — and sometimes money itself — from outside. Whether they are taken as booty or traded for the imperial currency, the effect is about the same; they undermine local industries and local wages.

Ancient Rome imported wheat from Egypt, by the boatload, and gave it to citizens (an early form of food stamps). Result: the price of wheat collapsed. Small farmers couldn’t compete with free wheat. They couldn’t earn a living.

The Romans also brought in slaves. Rich, politically-connected Romans took over the small farms, consolidated them into big plantations, and ran them with slave labor. Again, the local labor was out of luck.

Things got so bad for the small farmers that they sold their children into slavery…and then, themselves. Then, in alarm, an edict prohibited Roman farmers from selling themselves into slavery. They were required to remain on their farms…and at work.


When I see British complaints about immigrants taking their jobs I too am reminded of ancient Rome.

In its decline Rome recruited barbarian mercenaries into the legions because they couldn't get enough of their own citizens to do the job.

One day a man called Alaric - a Goth from Romania - sacked Rome ... and not too many years later the Roman Emperor was a man called Odoacer. Nobody knows if he was a Hun or a German or even a Turk.

What gave him the power was that he controlled the army - the foederati - made up of barbarians recruited to defend the empire.

Please don't criticise my casual history. I'm just making a point.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fishminster? Pissminster! How to lose a customer forever - even if you sell something superb. Plus the problem with big organisations - and a songbird

Yesterday, my stomach rumbling happily, I strolled into an excellent (if expensive) fish and chip joint near me called Fishminster. (Why the odd name? They belong to Pieminster, a highly successful pie makers that started up in Bedminster in Bristol).

I was really looking forward to that crispy batter, those glorious chips. There was no other customer. Just the guy behind the counter chatting to a friend.

I stood there. He ignored me. I left.

He ruined my afternoon, the lazy prick. I will never go there again. That's not just one sale lost. It's years of sales. I would guess about £5,000.


Very perceptive observations in the Financial Times by Luke Johnson - the man who made Pizza Express and Strada so successful. The great divide between competence and uselessness is not between public and private sectors. It's between large and small.

He speaks of the "airless coffins" in which middle managers are confined. People to whom risk-taking is totally alien. They focus on "cost-cutting, out-sourcing and automation".

This instantly reminded me of my experiences this week in getting my passport delivered. I paid £20 extra for this to get it delivered. The Pisspot Office managed to find a delivery firm I never heard of called DX.

But it's even more bloody useless than the others (hard). I believe they've a new website that expresses their corporate vision called www.wedon'tgiveaflyingfuck.com.

I had to spend an extra £23 on a taxi to their depot because instead of delivering to my office as agreed they delivered it to Bristol - where the doorbell doesn't ring.

I think they have an About Us section on their website that reads "Proudly automated. If you can find out how to talk to a live human here you get a prize".


When you read this I'll be on my way to New York - moderately happy because I've already sold 18 out of 40 seats for EADIM next year, which will be at the start of October.

Yesterday when I went to get the train tickets to Heathrow, suddenly a familiar voice spoke next to me. It was my daughter Martina Topley-Bird, the celebrated chanteuse - now working mostly with Massive Attack.

She had this astounding Vivien Westwood thing on. Was it a coat? Was it a dress? Was it a plan? I don't know. but I guarantee there's nothing like it anywhere else in Bristol, where it turns out she's teaching music.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Did you get my insane EADIM half price, easy terms offer? Here’s what one delegate wrote, verbatim

O.K., enough wit and wisdom. This is naked commerce - about EADIM.

It ended three days ago, and I've started promoting next year already with a ludicrous deal.

Why so soon? If you don't know, then you don't know enough about marketing.

Why so ludicrous? Because early numbers help us plan - and then I can put the price back up, ho ho.

But if you’re wondering what kind of person finds EADIM worthwhile …

Or wondering what kind of person wants - and tends - to succeed as an entrepreneur …

And whether you should take my half-price offer while it’s still around …

Well, Denis Thornton who wrote what follows used to fly helicopters in the army.

(Many successful entrepreneurs are ex-forces).

This is what Denis wrote, 48 hours ago - verbatim …

When you’ve read it, if you want EADIM at half price with easy monthly terms, write to me Drayton@draytonbird.com with one word: Bingo. But do so before the end of the month. That's when the offer ends.

Thank you so much for a terrific event. I have pages and pages of actionable notes - as well as insights, new knowledge, and some funny stories. I am also inspired to re-double my efforts, having arrived at EADIM only 3 weeks after completely burning out thanks to multiple business activities alongside the day job. I honestly feel refreshed and optimistic and with a new plan.

Now, as you may know I am a fan of Dan Kennedy, and his monthly newsletter is excellent, but I went to his conference in Dallas in 2010, and it was a bit contrived because of the amount of pitching at the end of each session. I know that you could make a lot more money if you made EADIM like that, but it wouldn't be the same experience at all for us - it really was worth every penny to come. One insight that might intrigue you: everyone I spoke with agreed that we were having our best year of results ever - is that why we came to EADIM, or is it because we invest in ourselves with this training that we get the results? We got very drunk before any answers emerged, I'm afraid.

Please add me to the list for next year's event. Please let me know the dates asap so I can book my el-cheapo (but very nice) ex-soldier's hotel, the Union Jack Club

So there you are, gentle reader.

Denis is not the only one to want to repeat the EADIM experience. We have had one delegate - a pharmacist - come from Sydney twice in succession.

A pharmacist? Yes: a pharmacist. I really don't care what you sell or who you sell to or how much it costs or where you sell it - online or off - or whether it's to businesses or plain folk, we can show you:

How to get more customers.

How to get them for less.

How to get them to spend more.

How to keep them longer.

And if you’re wondering if you should act, please don’t imagine you’ll get a better offer. They get worse as the year wears on. (And I suspect we'll have sold half the seats by the end of the month, which is, as I said, when this offer ends.

Less than a week from now.

It is 10 monthly payments of £100 plus VAT - half price and easy terms.

That’s it.

You can see what Denis liked so much at www.eadim.com

And the word to send me, Drayton@draytonbird.com, if you want to climb on board while you can, is Bingo.

To hell with the Greek economy. Forget Angela and Nicolas. Screw the mess in the U.S. Balls to the people who print banknotes. Ignore the pensions rip-off.

Look after your economy. And it's not a bad idea to start by saving a fair amount now to help you make a whole lot more later.


Monday, 24 October 2011

How one firm thrives in a recession – in a medium some people think is dead or dying

In 2002, Gartner the brilliant research experts said that by 2010 direct mail would "almost be a half-remembered relic".

Well, stone me! How strange that Mailbird, a relatively small firm that does nothing but send out direct mail fore clients, has just had a record year.

I asked Coral Russell, the bird who founded Mailbird, why this is.

Here's what she told me. Nothing secret - just a lot of the things every business should think about - but most don't.

Well worth reading if you want to survive in these troubled times.

We learn about our clients, their priorities and marketing needs. We treat them as individuals with their own ways of working.

This means they often don’t need to explain their preferences with every mailing which leads to repeat business.

It also helps us schedule work – vital for any mailing house – and frees us to react quickly and positively, because flexibility is essential. We can react in a way many businesses simply cannot.

Our clients know this and our customer retention, which is vital, is high.

We enjoy what we do, and are interested in the health of the industry as a whole. We believe in the medium of direct mail, and the product we offer.

Our employees have fun – Mailbird is a happy place to work.

We have a mix of clients from a variety of sectors, many less susceptible to the effects of economic downturn and recession.

We only take on clients whose needs we can genuinely fulfil. Pointless to be seduced by volume at a price or a time scale that dominates resource, and reduces the service we can offer all our clients.

We never take our eye off new business.

Excepting the key fixed asset – property – we own most of our assets.

Thus we are able to offer very good prices without having to take on work at rock-bottom prices to feed our machines.

BUT higher profits come from repeat business so relationship marketing is always at the forefront.

We offer a high level of service, are informed, reliable and very pleasant to deal with.

We offer free advice and ideas to our clients.

We understand that people buy from people they like, and in turn recommend us to others.

Just as we want to offer the best service possible, we only choose suppliers who will also go the extra mile. Timing is such an important factor in Direct Mail; you have to be able to rely on your suppliers.

We strive to know what is going on around us, and developments in the medium. It is important to know and talk with others in the Industry whose help – over the years – has been invaluable.

We are proactive and keep clients up to speed, particularly with postal opportunities, which should be any Mailing House’s area of expertise.

We are active DMA Members, part of the Strategic Mailing Partnership, and are committed to working for the good of the medium of Direct Mail, not just for the good of Mailbird.

Trust is very important. If we DO run into a problem our clients know that we won’t hide it under the carpet, but will try and resolve it honestly.

These are times of change – not least in the Direct Mail Industry. We produce frequent Management Accounts so we can respond quickly to factors that affect the business.

Our staff and culture come from employing family members and friends. Not exclusively, of course, but all our staff are very positive, and work very hard.

How about that, then? Look after your customers. Keep your staff happy. Know what you're doing and believe in it. Watch the money.

Just do it right.

I have no interest in Mailbird - just an interest in better business. They are at http://www.mailbird.co.uk/ - and Coral is a very nice lady.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tesco stinks, Sainsbury and Waitrose deliver; with a salute to Rory Sutherland

Unless you're in the business or slightly mad I don't suppose you spend much time following the battle between the supermarkets - but I am slightly mad, and occasionally hopping mad, too.

Last year I bought some foul smelling cod from Tesco, but they wouldn't give me my money back. There was a message on the receipt asking me to tell them how my "shopping experience" was - but when I told them I never even got a reply. When I had the same trouble with Sainsbury they gave me my money back - and a gift voucher.

Today I bought a sandwich from Waitrose and on the package I read a promise that if I was not satisfied, they would refund my money and give me a replacement. I had to read it twice to make sure. Yes: they'll give you your money back and a new sandwich.

People talk about "killer apps". That's what I bet is a killer guarantee.

People greatly underrate the power of the guarantee. Generally if you offer something good, the stronger your guarantee the better you'll do. Our cousins in the U.S. have, as ever, coined a fancy name for the reason why this is so. It is "risk reversal". The stronger the guarantee the less people worry about putting their hands in their pockets.

Waitrose sales for the week ending October 15th were 11.7% higher than the same week last year

I am just recovering from my annual nightmare - EADIM. What makes it a nightmare is not just the fear of everything going wrong, it is that sitting through all the other presentations, which I always do, is a bloody sight harder than making my own.

It's not half as hard, though, as what Rory Sutherland did on Thursday - fly in from New York, go home to freshen up then come and give us two hours of wisdom and hilarity in equal measure. A hero.

The big surprise from me this year was that less than half the delegates were from the U.K. and that it's almost impossible to get a decent bottle of wine in the Cavendish restaurant for under £30.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

How to review copy, plus the Tin Piss-Pot for use of jargon. And we’ve been here before, folks – many times. Plus, if you want to meet me …

Yesterday a client wrote saying that my copy was to be reviewed by various “stakeholders”. I wrote pleading with her not to use jargon.

I forgot to quote David Ogilvy’s rule: copy should only be reviewed by two people: the person who commissioned it, then once he or she is content, by someone very senior to make sure it’s OK. Otherwise the process is like being nibbled to death by ducks, as my old art director Marty Stein used to put it.

Today’s tin piss-pot for most imaginative use of meaningless jargon goes to the Creative Director of Interbrand in Australia, which has just won the Alzheimers’ Society account.

He said “to cut through the clutter of the charity landscape” they’ve decided on a “fighting spirit and stronger tone of voice at the heart of the new brand”.

"It is designed to create a national movement, not just another campaign," he said. "It features a flexible logo that changes and evolves to communicate different messaging. The identity is bold, simple and clear, and deliberately very cost effective to implement. Using two colours and often, just four words."

They are going to change everything from the stationery upwards. That should cost plenty of the donors' money. Don't ask what tests they will do, because I bet the answer is "none".

I want to know if the man, whose name is Michael Rigby, is telling the truth.

It's hard to tell, isn't it, as the statement is almost without meaning.

However, new research from Jochim Hansen of New York University and Michaela Wänke of the University of Basel reveals that besides irritating the hell out of customers and people we work with, jargon makes them think we are not telling the truth.

But here’s the kicker. The article, in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, is headed Truth From Language and Truth From Fit: The Impact of Linguistic Concreteness and Level of Construal on Subjective Truth.

Before you say another word, the a with two dots over it in Wänke is pronounced like an e. And she and her colleague get a special prize for the ironic use of jargon

I am reading a book set in the reign of Henry V111.

Just as Blair and Brown pissed away the largest surplus this country has ever had on foolish ventures, leaving us in debt, Henry pissed away the surplus his father Henry V11 left, plus whatever he could steal from the monasteries, on disastrous military capers.

To solve the problem he resorted to debasing the coinage – putting less silver in it. Nowadays this is called Quantitative Easing. In the early 1700’s Daniel Defoe described it as “debauching the currency.”

Tonight at 6:00 the attendees at EADIM will be gathering for drinks at The Cavendish in Jermyn Street. I will be giving a very short (hurrah) speech on 20 ways to improve your results by at least 20%.

If you want to join us, it costs £20 plus VAT on the door. At their prices, that's cheap.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Apryl gets the horrors - when all I want to do is help you all make money. So very unkind.

Well, I don't know. Is there any faith left in this world?

As part of my rather self-interested crusade to raise innocent folks' chances of survival in the coming misery and maybe rid the world of a few rip-off artists I whacked out two emails about what I call my "tentacles".

The man to blame is my financial conscience Michael Carpenter, who's been trying to keep me out of the bankruptcy courts on and off for over 40 years.

The other day he said: “Why don’t you tell people about ALL the ways you can help people instead of just one or two? There are lots of things we do that you never mention.”

So I sent out something headed “Could one of my tentacles reach out to help you?” The tentacles are other things I have a finger in, if you'll forgive a bit of confused anatomy.

Then I emailed about a service that could instantly improve the response to your direct mail by 25-83%.

It is hand-addressing which one of my companies does. It works very well for:

Charities - especially if you want to look like you really do need money.

Selling to businesses – when you want your message to look highly personal.

Expensive, up-market products/services - when you want to make customers feel they’re getting a really personal letter.

They can even top and tail letters and hand-stamp "confidential" onto outer envelopes.

Then today I sent something out about saving up to 90% off data-feeds. This was actually a lie because we can save you even more.

If you do ecommerce you almost certainly need to run data feeds - the streams of data that come off your system and feed into shoppingcomparison sites, affiliate networks and the Google Merchant Centre.

The handful of firms that dominate this small specialist area charge ridiculous sums for tiny amounts of work.

You can pay up to £5,000 to build a feed and £1,500 a month to maintain it. Fine, if you're a big fat rich organisation.

But one of my companies runs a very straight-forward data feed service. They charge £500 to create a feed and £100 a month to maintain it.

Yes: one tenth as much as these pirates to set up, and less than one tenth as much to run it.

Anyhow, this use of the word tentacles really got to Apryl Parcher - a writer I've been corresponding with for yonks.

“Tentacles?” she said. "The image I get in my head is the peg-legged, octopus-bearded Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean. Rather sinister (shudders)."

Huh! Anyone'd think I let a mouse loose in her bedroom.

As I explained to her, "My tentacles are lovable, friendly, sweet, cuddly, helpful, imaginative, civilised, adorable, full of bounce, goodwill and bad jokes - think Sponge Bob Squarepants."

But also think making more money in hard times.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Live in trailer park? Desperate and literate - but stupid? Here’s how to get rich. Almost as good as stuffing envelopes.

My friend Andrew Gadsden, "Saviour of Tea" - his business is selling tons of tea - forwarded a hilarious email message from someone called the PPC Web Spy.

The subject: “Can I hire you to write for me?” It read:

Hey Andrew, myself and over 2,400 others are looking to hire people that can write simple 300 word articles.

We'll pay you for every single article you write. There's no limit to how much we'll pay you. Write as much as you can, and make as much as you can.

Ok, so here's how it works:

1. Go here and create a free account:

2. Sign up to become a "writer" by clicking on the big blue write articles button.

Then start writing articles for people. Once you become a "top writer" (which doesn't take long at all) you'll be able to earn $5+ for each article you write. You could essentially spend a few hours writing articles and pay off ALL of your house bills in a couple of days!

There is literally no other guaranteed way to earn income, where you decide how much you want to write and earn. It's entirely up to you.

In the few weeks that iWriter has been open, I've already sent out close to $76,000 in payments to writers! Needless to say, you can make very good income doing this.

Go there now and sign up right away. You'll be glad you did.

Suck your dummy, you moron (sorry, I made that up)

At 75 I really should give up and leave everyone in peace or maybe become a "top writer" at $5 a time but here's why I keep bumbling on – messages like this that I got yesterday:

I am Mihai from Romania, an EADIM graduate from the first year of your program. I just want to share with you my last project, an online viral ad for a promotion for the efix gasoline.

In 10 days we got almost 150 000 views on video sharing channels and on facebook 18,000 people share it on their wall.

Name of the campaign is "Efix from one horse power up!": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7TOd0UgdrA

Very funny - and more to the point, very good.


Another illusion shattered …

Andrew Dumas wrote to me saying “I enjoy your blog entries immensely. Unfortunately, I suspect that the information you received concerning use of overseas call centers may be based on urban legend.

I recalled hearing something similar based on alleged U.S. law. A Google search yielded this link: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/ask-tranfer-uk-rep-law.shtml .”

Actually I had heard that, too. Yet as I have met Lesley Southgate and she said she'd tried it I assumed she was telling the truth. Mind you, she said she was put through to someone in Newcastle on Tyne.

The first time I met anyone from there was when I was a great deal younger, staying in a caravan by the sea.

I was standing at a juke box wearing my regulation greasy hair complete with quiff and, believe it or not, blue suede shoes. A lad said something to me in broad Geordie. He had to repeat it twice before I realised he was asking the time.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Today's little bucket of offal from the magical (but shrinking) world of marketers with lots of money to waste

Lee Iacocca (remember him? He saved Chrysler for a bit) wrote something good: "If you want to succeed you'd better get on with people, because that's all we've got around here."

And Peter Drucker pointed out that there is only one profit centre in business - your customers.

Many folks as they lick their way up the corporate ladder tend to lose interest in customers and are too damned busy to study them. So they take refuge in the bullshit purveyed by agency planners and academic research.

Both often tell you things you should know already, such as that if you show an interest in customers they like it and buy more.

Isn't that amazing? All you have to do is deliver a better product or service and tell the right people about it in a way they find likable. Not necessarily easy, but very simple. Yet some think it is terra incognita.

Take an email my friend Martin Chilcott, marketing director cum laude, sent me the other day with the subject line We'd love you to join us - Empathy Benchmarking.

That got the old pulse racing, I can tell you. Then it went on, with more than its fair share of jargon and illiteracy.

Ok – most organisation now have something similar to either a Customer Satisfaction or Advocacy measure in place which helps us capture the Customer voice. However, most companies have no idea how their peoples’ attitudes and behaviours are making their customers feel, or how they are performing relative to competitors or parallel companies. Interestingly, and unlike many other measures, the empathy displayed by agents has been academically proven to correlate directly to profit.

Compathy Limited,SOCAPiE and Oxford Brookes University Business Schoolare working together to bring you the Somthing4Everyone Benchmarking Programme. Essentially it is a re-launch, and upgrade, of the Empathy Rating Index Programme run by Harding & Yorke between 2004-9 with the traditional empathy related questions, a new competency set and a series of ‘likelihood of referral’ questions which help organisations understand the key drivers behind traditional advocacy metrics. All the previous data captured on over 150 companies from 12 different industries semi-annually will be made available and the Empathy Licensees will be on hand to support root cause analysis, making the findings come alive and change intitiatives.

To participate, and to benefit from the in-depth analysis to be carried out by Oxford Brookes University Business School, you must either be a Member of SOCAPiE or be pre-sponsored by an Empathy Licensee.

SOCAPiE, a not-for-profit organisation, have put together some amazing discounted options for existing Members (participation from as little as £2,800 plus Vat) and combined new Membership and participation (from £3,650 plus Vat).

The Benchmark will cover 4 territories; UK & EMEA, Americas, ASIA and Australasia and is set to become the World’s most influential and strategically important research programme supporting the customer experience.

You really couldn't make it up, could you? But then again, why would you want to? I guess somebody buys this stuff. Why? And is something spelt without an e?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Grossly unfair! Immigrants to be tested on knowledge of British culture. Plus how to handle incomprehensible call centre people

The Daily Mail is often good for a giggle, and so it proved this morning when I read that would-be immigrants are to be tested on British history and culture.

Questions (says the Daily Mail) will include asking who was Britain's Prime Minister at the outbreak of World War 2. I'll lay a bet that most will say Churchill - and be wrong.

This is all so unfair. Not only will immigrants be willing to work harder; they'll be better educated, too.

Meanwhile, a bit of useful info sent by Lesley Southgate, bless her.

If you call an 0800 number and end up talking to someone abroad - maybe in India, Pakistan, Ireland, etc. - you can ask very politely (this is not about trashing other cultures): "I'd like to speak to a customer service representative in the United Kingdom."

If the rep suggests talking to his/her manager, again politely say, "Thank you, but I'd like to speak to a customer service representative in the United Kingdom."

Guess what? You will be connected to a rep in the U.K. Lesley says that's the law, and it takes less than one minute to have your call re-directed. She put it to the test.

Lesley goes on "Imagine what would happen if every United Kingdom citizen insisted on talking to only UK phone reps from this day on". Then she says what a lot of jobs it would create, and suggests a viral campaign.

That's all very well, but would they know who was Prime Minister in 1939?

Monday, 10 October 2011

“Skidding about helplessly on the slippery surface of irrelevant creative brilliance” – David Ogilvy

A few weeks ago I was invited to a grand dinner in New York to mark the centenary of David Ogilvy’s birth. I was in New York just before it took place, but had to fly back to London on the day. A shame.

Anyhow, the remark above is one of the great man’s more entertaining ones, though I am about to describe things that could never be called brilliant or creative – just irrelevant and wasteful. And whence did they originate? From banks and advertising agents, of course.

My eyes popped out like chapel hat pegs when I saw a full colour double page adwank in The Week, paid for by Credit Suisse – or rather their clients. It features the boss of Lindt chocolates grinning like a hyena behind a drink (and looking as though he’s had nine or ten) with a giant chocolate bear next to him.

How the hell they got him to make such a fool of himself is a mystery. Vanity, I guess. Beneath the picture it says “Lindt CEO ERNST Tanner salutes another year of growth. Credit Suisse has helped raise his company’s standing.”

This is, of course, 100% pure gold-plated, diamond-studded, 24 carat bollocks, straight off the top shelf.

How does your choice of bank affect your standing? You just hope the bastards won’t lose a few billion by not looking at what their staff are up to. Anyhow, after the UBS catastrophe you would think that even allowing for the total ignorance of marketing displayed by almost all banks, a Swiss one would be smart enough not to piss away people’s hard-earned francs on such boastful tosh.

But no: they have other ads in the series, with a complete website devoted to explaining the amount of Tanner’s time and his clients’ money squandered on this exercise in corporate masturbation. If I were a Credit Suisse client I would be asking questions like, “How much is old Ernst taking home each year?” Possibly followed up by “If he wants to jerk off in public I hope this was done on his time, not ours.”

At least that ad is beautifully laid out, though.

Another for Saxo Bank in a Money Week supplement devoted to financial gambling – er, online trading - is just as stupid, but hideous, too. The headline is “ONE GOAL MULTIPLE WAYS TO ACHIEVE IT and it shows two men wearing rubber suits sloshing through some water. One is a Triathlon champion, and good for him.

Under this absurd picture it says THE MULTI ASSET PLATFORM, FOR THE ACTIVE TRADER (why the comma?) then some direly pretentious copy, fortunately reversed out to make it hard to read.

Great Gods and Little Fishes! Doesn’t anyone in these firms or their agencies know even 1% of what advertising is for, what works and what doesn’t? Have none of them studied, even for a spare five minutes, the thing they get so grossly overpaid for?

Boastful piffle does you no more good in advertising than in real life; pictures of runners do not make you think about making money. Actually if they’re wearing shiny rubber suits and you’re inclined that way they may even make you think about sex.

Incidentally, I would have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth if my Grandfather hadn’t lost all his money betting on Cotton Futures in 1920 – but that’s another subject.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

My favourite Poles, the power of brands – and slightly less rain in Spain

In the 1960’s I fell in love with a Polish girl, and discovered that the Poles, whom I had always imagined, God knows why, a calm, slightly gloomy lot, like the Swedes, were - in her case anyhow - a fiery, passionate lot.

They seemed more like what I imagined the Italians to be. She nearly killed me once – and I still have the scar to prove it. As I now live with an Italian I shall say no more, but for a desperate stretch during my seven lost years in the ‘70’s I sold investments on the phone for a Polish Count.

A former cavalry colonel, he was one of those gallant maniacs who charged the German tanks on horseback in 1939. When I knew him he was 60 and living with a girl of 19, with whom he had a baby. An inspiration. He drank a lot, as I did. He gave me some good advice: don’t drink on one day of the week. And he used to do keep-fit exercises. I have emulated him in both habits. Thank you, Kepinski. I am sure you are in heaven.

I only dislike one Pole, who runs the Polish DMA, for which he is entirely unqualified. More recently the Poles I have got to know at all well have been my cleaners, Kasia in London and now Anna. Kasia has a rough time, mainly because her husband is a selfish bastard. Anna is an orphan who seems to have survived a really rough time and emerged with a sunny disposition – besides being rather beautiful.

Yesterday she came and showed my beloved how to make Pirogi, which are like giant Polish ravioli. She brought Polish flour and Polish sunflower oil – both, I imagine, no better than the British versions, but more expensive.

Such is the power of the brand in people’s minds. I was on the Ogilvy and Mather board when communism was swept away, and there was much discussion of the way in which Western brands would conquer all – but they haven’t.

Anyhow, now that we’re all suffering from, among other things, the baleful policies of the European Central Bank’s one-size-doesn’t-fit-all straightjacket, many places in Europe are pretty cheap, which brings me to something I mentioned yesterday – my crazy idea of seeing how many people would like to come to Southern Spain for a copy seminar.

I plan to include a very good hotel deal and free car hire and the weather will be slightly better than the U.K. I need 40 people to make it worthwhile, though.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Children are suffering because of these crass oafs - or how to make 100% sure your marketing money is wasted

I sometimes have an uneasy feeling that there is a great alternative recruitment agency in the depths below which seeks out idiots for big jobs.

They probably run ads headed “A unique money-making opportunity for gormless twats.”

Such seems the only conceivable way a man could have become, some years ago, a senior marketing man at Saga, the people who flog stuff to the elderly.

When Saga started up it was something new – well, fairly new: there was already the American Association of Retired People which it copied in many ways.

If you are lucky or clever enough to have or steal an idea like that, a trained chimpanzee could do the marketing director’s job. The man I dealt with, besides being obnoxious, was a few evolutionary stages behind the chimpanzee.

Not all of us are blessed with native wit. Not all of us are given a smidgeon of commonsense. But some of us really are thicker than pigshit, as was this man.

He had been persuaded by his database man to get me to come and review their creative work, which was mostly rubbish (you don’t need good creative if you have a great idea and a big customer file). I liked the database guy, so I did the job on the cheap.

However, to analyse why some of the rubbish was slightly better than the rest I needed to know the context. Who was it sent to? When? What was going on in the market? What were the results? What was it tested against? (The answer to the last question was nothing, of course, as they were clueless – still true of most marketers).

But the man wanted me to guess what the results might have been. So I could only do half a job – not helped because he was a bully and his staff were all frightened of asking questions. The man who had arranged the talk was embarrassed, gave me a slap up lunch and has gone on to thrive and prosper.

That day was a waste – but one eclipsed for arrogance and folly by the recent actions of some oiks at a children’s charity. A friend of mine offered to do some work on a results basis. At the last minute the fundraising boss said he couldn’t attend and sent a substitute – without bothering to brief him, the lazy sod. My friend had to do that, and afterwards the substitute, who was in charge of legacies, agreed to take matters further

My friend said: it is hard for me to comment on this area of your business without seeing the kind of pack you send to supporters. The arrogant buffoon not only gave no information: he said my friend should find out for himself – do his “homework”.

Direct mail is not a public medium. Even God would find it impossible to know a) what had been sent out b) when c) in what circumstances d) with what results e) what the competition was doing f) what the average legacy was – in fact all the things you need to know to do a good job.

The man actually wrote: “You cannot expect me to devote my time to helping you to win my business. That cannot possibly be my role.”

What a useless prick. He brings a new depth of meaning to the word unemployable His job is to do anything and everything to help anyone who could help raise money for children – not make it hard for them.

But as Goethe put it, with idiots even God is helpless. And as God might put it, children are suffering and dying because of idiots like him.

There are an awful lot of people like that around. I would shoot the lot.

Friday, 7 October 2011

There's no hogwash like marketing hogwash ... and a possible alternative

I have always thought it was hard to beat the kind of twaddle marketing people come out with, and that the absolute nadir is reached by agency people.

Here, for instance, is a quote from a presentation made by one of the leading agencies on Bristol (don't laugh too hard - this is a subsidiary of one of the world's top ten agencies).

Before you read it I would like you to imagine the client's situation. You may even feel that way yourself. They - like any other business - need income. There is a dire recession. Their kind of enterprise is under very heavy pressure; quite a few similar organisations are shutting up shop. They need results - and fast!

And they get this:

“I think we would be able to generate some very useful thinking for you on 'future' proofing the business more and in helping you engage further with key consumer groups and in the provision of content + product which could be commercialised/monetised and have a long tail income stream generated from some sustainable initiatives”.

What in the holy name of bollocks is that? And how about single quotation marks round the word future? Normally when you do that it signifies you don't really mean what you're saying. Then again, if you aren't really saying anything useful, who cares?

Hogwash is not dished out only by agencies, though, nor only in Bristol. This morning my Aussie mate Malcolm Auld drew my attention to a piece about the banks over there.

The big four banks have spent 19% more on media advertising in the past 12 months but it has done little for customer satisfaction.

And why, pray, should it? People are satisfied by what you do, not what you say. And since most bank advertising is just lies, they'd probably have done better keeping quiet, giving the money to their customers or improving service.

The one that increased spending most - Commonwealth Bank (30% up) - got the least benefit. By one measure "satisfaction" was up 0.6% or down 0.1% - insignificant statistically. People were either as pissed off as before, or a bit more so or a bit less so. One problem may have been that the more they lied, the more they pissed people off. Another may be that the bank had no idea what advertising is for.

Andy Lark, Chief Commonwealth Marketing Muppet, said they did not expect any "correlation between advertising and satisfaction, which was driven by actual banking experience". So why did he advertise?

"The job of advertising is to help people fall in love with our brands," he said.

Uh? The idea of falling in love with a bank is bizarre. But the idea of falling in love with a bank's brand is a phantasmagorical perversion. The agency in Bristol would have a place for him.

Anyhow here we have two problems.

The chocolate teapot at the Bristol agency can't write and doesn't know what people want advertising to do.

The other man doesn't know what advertising ought to do - and is a banker.

I can help here - indeed I did help 106 people - in Bristol as it happens in June

The easiest and cheapest way to get your advertising to do what it should do - sell more stuff without spending more money - is to run better copy, which is what I was explaining in Bristol. Better copy can make a huge difference.

Unfortunately lots of people couldn't or wouldn't come to Bristol. Some said, "Come to London". Others suggested Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, Birmingham.

I have a better idea if you're interested, because it will be cheaper, and everyone can come as easily as coming to London. Also I'll throw in the odd freebie.

You may think it's crazy, but why not come to Spain?

What d'you say to that?

I'm dead serious.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The great SEO rip-off - don't sign a contract: I have a better idea

Do you get a lot of people trying to sell you SEO? I get regular emails - and another agency which has the misfortune of me for its chairman gets people ringing to sell it all the time.

The sales idea is to make you feel a pathetic no-hoper because you're not at the top of the rankings. It reminds me of the Great CRM Rip Off, and before that the Great Database Rip-Off, not to mention the Great We'll Build You a Pretty Website That Couldn't Sell Shit If It Tried Rip-Off.

They all work on the safe assumption that many marketers feel they should have one of these shiny things without knowing what they're for, let alone how they work.

My partner takes great joy in probing these SEO rogues
on what they actually deliver. It soon becomes apparent that the answer is not a lot.

As he says, "Poor fools. I don't think a lot of them know what direct marketing is let alone what a direct marketing agency is. The thing is, SEO/SEM has become this mystical dark art which practitioners don't like to reveal their methods about. I have noticed huge numbers of businesses signing up to ridiculous deals where they commit to stupid sums of money for very little in the way of work."

He then adds, "If I'm honest I'm probably a bit jealous that there are people making money for doing nothing - something I've always struggled to do."

What's happening is that lots of people are signing up for SEO contracts where the "SEO agency" does little more than a few tweaks to their site in the first month and then sits around until they get rumbled about 18 months later.

If you're interested, here's a new and original approach. It is called A Fair Deal

For £900 a month you get an IT graduate working full-time on your site - optimising the copy and code and building links with full monthly and instant online reporting.

You can sub divide this into chunks of 40 hours. So you can buy 40, 80, 120, 160 200, etc hours a month.

And the results are extremely impressive. They have never yet failed to get anyone onto page 1 of Google for any keyword within about six months.

If you want to know more about this, two people at EADIM (which I cease promoting after the end of tomorrow) will be talking about SEO. One is among the the world's leading authorities. The other is the man who put together the fair deal I just referred to.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Would you believe one old seaside video could build an internet business? Plus a simple thought about investment

Did you see a video I made the other day about the mysterious word Buckshee?

In it I mentioned a man who had built a very successful business after watching a video made 20 odd years ago.

I have never seen the video. All I know is that it was of a talk I did at Brighton University – about an hour or so long, I think.

The firm that video helped to build is called Doyouspain.com – a brilliant name, by the way. It is entirely internet-based and the founder, Jose-Maria Gaillet Fort has done so well he now operates in several other countries

I asked him if he’d make a video telling his story. When you watch it you may say it sounds a bit rehearsed. Of course it is. Wouldn’t you rehearse if English wasn’t your first language?

Here it is.

I have never met or even heard of Jose-Maria until this spring, when he came to see me for our branding day in Leicester. Then he came to the copy day in Bristol. And as you can hear, he plans to come to London for EADIM.

After Bristol in June he asked me for some advice. Then I sent to see him in August. And since then, as you can see, his results have improved by 30%.

Quite a few people say I have helped them one way or another. Some sold their businesses for millions (one for £100 million). Others are happily trading on – one I interviewed last year has a business turning over £20 million plus a year; another built the largest loans business in the U.K. The world's leading internet marketing teacher, Ken McCarthy, says he was inspired by reading one of my books in the New York Public Library.

Could I help you? Jose-Maria’s results improved within weeks. Other successes were over a period of years.

But the easiest way to find out how much better you might do is by spending a little time – a day, or two, or even three - with me at EADIM.

Here’s the original Buckshee video – just write back to me, Drayton@Draytonbird.com saying “Buckshee” if you’re interested.

Why did I talk about investment? Not just because I have worked for many successful firms in that area, but because of a simple truth.

Investment is all about what you put in versus the likely rewards. Two things are for sure.

1. No investment, no rewards.

2. One investment never loses value. It never ceases to pay dividends. It pays off through boom and bust. It is the best investment you can ever make. It is in you.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Gorillas make £437,000 - plus a few Euro-moans from the aged scribe

I watched a story the other day about the remarkable degree to which gorillas behave like and can communicate with humans.

There has recently been a plague of fancifully decorated gorillas in Bristol, placed in prominent places to raise money for the zoo. Everybody loved them and until a week or so ago I used to walk past the one in the picture on my way to the station.

These amiable relatives of ours raised some £437,300 at auction, the other day. My favourite was the Elvis Gorilla at the National Express bus station, but I can't find a picture of him. He was sold for £10,300 - the third highest sum.

The big difference besides appearance seems to be that gorillas are much nicer than humans. Perhaps they are also more intelligent than some of the waddling masses of tattooed flab I often see wandering our city streets.

I am sure they have a greater sense of what is fair than our governors.

Here in Bristol which is ironically called a City of Sanctuary a lady called Khetiwe Mashavave who has never done anyone any harm is threatened with deportation to Zimbabwe rather than being allowed to stay in Bristol.

The other day I signed a petition to try and keep her here. She is a churchgoer and a real contributor to the community. If she goes back she will face the thoughtful attentions of Mugabe's thugs. (What would have happened if Zimbabwe, rather than Libya, had oil?)

Meanwhile, thanks to the bizarre ideas of the European Court of Injustice, we are required to keeping a clutch of terrorist bastards here at incredible cost because nasty things may happen to them if they are sent back to where they came from.

This is all wrong. Their religion is based on the Old Testament idea of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. They who wish to live by the sword should die by the sword.

If Europe as presently arranged falls apart, the one thing that should be rejected for good is the primacy of a legal system alien to our culture. Apart from anything else, it's not good for business. Until Italy began implementing all the constricting labour laws it had one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Ever since it has slowly but surely moved into reverse.

These lunatic laws, which actively discourage firms from employing people, are being implemented here. Apart from providing lots of work for lawyers and the least useful department in most firms - "Human Resources" - they will do little but harm.

Nobody knows how the Great European Cock-up is going to end, but if we're going to be fucked around by politicians, at least let them be British ones.