September 2023


When you talk about yourself or your business.

Make it jarring.

Make the reader double-take.

Make the reader come to a screechy stop.

Like a cartoon dog.

Make it Jarring.

Try making them say, ‘Eh?’

Not ‘Meh’.


Meh is saying  you’re ‘The Leading manufacturer of ballbearings.’

Because I don’t know what ‘leading’ means, I don’t like boring show-offs and your competitors say it too.

Meh is saying you’re ‘One of the best Accountancy Businesses in Leeds.’

Because if being  ‘one of… anything’ is what you’re most proud of, you have a problem.

You’re basically saying you’re not preeminent in anything at all.

Eh? Blimey!

‘We’ve gathered more of this information, for longer, than anyone in the world. We then use the information to protect you in a way nobody else could.’ – is jarring.

It means something, to me, that you can own.

‘Nobody saves our engineering sector more money, in this precise way, than we do.’ – is jarring.

It means something, to me, that you can own.

Like a Cartoon Dog.

Find your wow.

Say it out loud

Over and over and over.

Make the reader come to a screechy stop.

Like a cartoon dog.

I love my house in the same way George Bailey loved his.

George loved the house that trapped him and kept him from conquering the world.

The house that leaked and was never finished, the bannister post coming loose in his hand each time he climbed the stairs.

And I love my house too, despite sneaky spiders, ruinous ivy, unfinished rooms, creeping lychee and leaf dunes.

George Bailey and Me.

Nature and people made me a home.

It took me a while to see.

My home is spiders that make us scream.

Ivy that coats the walls and, somehow, waves green fingers into rooms.

Rooms that contain nothing but overdue ideas.

Lychee maps that tattoo walls and trees like magic.

And leaves that dance.

George wasn’t trapped.

It just took him a while.

It took George a while to see that Mary, Pete, Janie, Zuzu and Tommy were all he wanted.

That and the old house.

The one where the bannister post came loose in his hand as he climbed the stairs.

There’s Marketing.

And there’s Mehketing.


Mehketing is Marketing that feels comfortable, familiar, safe, obvious, OK and like-what-they-did.

And it’s a strangely dichotomous phenomenon because whilst Mehketing is everywhere.

You rarely actually see it.

Really see it, I mean.


Mehketing examples:

  1. Get a client to say you’re perfect in a quote you wrote for them, and asked them to sign it off (yes, it really is that obvious).
  2. Take photos of your product, so they look like photos of their product, but with your logo on.
  3. Use words that blend in and don’t mean anything. Words like ‘leading’ or ‘best’ or ‘solutions’.
  4. Write a slogan that means nothing to anyone. And that could appear on any business like yours. Something like, ‘Growing Together’ or ‘For the Future’ or ‘Consultancy You Can Believe In’ or ‘Your Ambition is Our Ambition’ or ‘Innovation for Tomorrow’ or ‘Mehmoh Mnh uhhh’ or ‘Strnmh Pppppppppphhh Thhhhhhh’.
  5. Use lots of, but don’t prioritise or provide uniquely powerful credentials for, any of the ‘business bingo’ words (established, innovative, well trained, experienced, quality, extensive selection, trusted, cost-effective, fast…). So I don’t know what you want me to remember. So I don’t remember any.
  6. Speak like a politician by framing lots of statements with things like, ‘We are committed to,’ and ‘Dedicated to,’ and ‘We are delighted to announce’. (We don’t believe politicians either).
  7. Say ‘we specialise in,’ then write a long list of thing you specialise in, thus confirming you’re not a specialist, you’re a generalist.
  8. Take a photo of your people with them looking down the lens, at a slight angle, doing that smile they don’t do.

Look, I know it’s hard.

We all slip.

But it’s meant to be hard.

Let’s at least try to do better.

Let’s choose Marketing – not Mehketing.

The first time we realised Charlie was blind was Christmas 2022.

He was sitting staring at our Christmas tree’s bright, red berry lights from just an inch or two away.


His nose brushing the needles.

As it turns out, Charlie was doing this because red is the colour that those with seriously fading vision see most vividly and for longest.

Before, eventually.

The lights go out.


Charlie is happy enough now his sight has, we think, almost gone.

For a fat and fading 16 year old cat he still purrs like a razor.

His already simple life getting ever simpler.

And darker.


I’m writing quite a bit at the moment for clients.

And for myself.

I have to get better at writing less words.

And making sure the things I write, like the world Charlie now sees, is more focused on just one bright, red berry light.


When thinking about what I do for businesses I help, I wrote (and will endeavour now only to write) this:

The very best way to get more people interested in you. Is to be more interesting.

Because this simple notion drives everything I do, write and advise.

And on the subject of brevity, I will leave it there.

Go grab a coffee.

And check if Charlie’s OK.

Because he just walked into the door.

Dave Trott talks about these statistics a lot.

89% of advertising doesn’t get noticed, 7% gets remembered negatively, and 4% gets remembered positively.

It’ll be a similar split for the broader communications activity of marketing.

Only about 4%(ish) of all marketing is interesting enough to get noticed favourably.

And it’s certainly true of Direct Mail, too.

That’s why, about 10 years ago, I didn’t come up with a Direct Mail recommendation based on sending letters or brochures or logoed-up promotional gifts to prospects.

I proposed that my client sent chickens and eggs instead.

A Very Special Kind of Silly.

Sending chickens and eggs to prospects is a very special kind of silly.

It’s silly – done right.

And ‘silly done right’ gets noticed because it’s distinctive, clever and interesting.

In a world where most marketing – isn’t.

Chickens and Eggs.

Here’s what happened.

So, you’re a decent print company, in a price-sensitive space that also demands speed and reliability.

You have an undifferentiated brand, no desire to invest in brand building right now, but you need great quality new business conversations – pronto.

So I suggest you randomly send 100 people from your carefully researched prospect hit list of 200 people a life-size, stand-uppable, beautifully designed and printed chicken, in a your-brand-coloured envelope.

And you send the other 100 people a life-size, stand-uppable beautifully designed and printed egg, in a your-brand-coloured envelope.

Then, a day or so later, you send the 100 chicken people an egg, and the 100 egg people a chicken.

Then, you get the in-house, outward-bound telesales team that you already have on payroll to, one by one, try to keep a straight face as they call all 200 people and, after politely introducing themselves, ask which came first.

The chicken.

Or the egg.

Then you all giggle.

Then you’ll have brilliant new business conversations.

Then you sell print.

Be Interesting.

Silly can work really well.

But silly isn’t the only way to be interesting, of course.

It’s just one way.

And if you’re going to try it, make sure it’s the right kind of silly.

Because only a very special kind of silly puts you firmly into the 4%, and keeps you out of the 96%.

If I had the choice of inviting a Yearbook or a Brochure to a dinner party, I’d invite a Yearbook.

I really don’t want to invite, or worst still, be sat next to, a Brochure at a dinner party.

I’d shift seats.


Yearbooks are more interesting than Brochures.

Brochures tell me how polished they are, how perfect they are, how all their clients love them.

(When I know they don’t).

Brochures tell me about their experience, history, mission, vision, quality standards, production capability, capacity, MD statement, schniffle, wiffle, griffle and piffle.

All a Brochure does is talk about itself.

And I don’t like that.


Yearbooks are different.

Yearbooks let me in, they capture a phase or a moment in time, they tell me the change they’re set on making, they tell me who they admire and what they love about them and why, they explain how creativity plays a part in what they do and are, they describe how hurt they get when things get hard, then how they overcome the tricky bits.

But more than anything, Yearbooks tell me what they’re really like.

So yes.

I prefer a Yearbook.

Do Both. 

Sometimes though, I’ll concede, a balance is needed.

I suppose a brochure is needed for some businesses where prospects really do need to get a clear understanding of services, sectors and specialism.

But don’t do a Brochure without a Yearbook at its side.

Do Both.

You’ll get more attention.

More interest.

Deeper engagement.

And you never know, you might just get invited to more dinner parties too.

We’ve heard this question before.

But it’s such a good question it’s worth asking again.


What do you do?

Is a question that is easy to answer.

What are you for?

Is much harder.

But a much better question, don’t you think?


When I consider the ‘do’ question versus the ‘for’ question.

My brain clicks.

From one place to another.

From one gear to another.

When I am thinking about the ‘for’ question, I sit up straighter.

And I think it’s because if I really had worked out what I am for.

I’d be doing it, and only it, now.


This ‘for’ question is something I am thinking about and working on right now, actually.

Because my chatter is too noisy and diverse.

It, and I, lack focus.

Let’s see what happens.

I used to think that funny people used humour to amplify who they are.

But the more funny people I meet.

And the better I get to know them.

I almost always discover that they are using humour not to amplify who they are.

But to mask or hide who they really are, instead.

Funny, that.

I found myself free-flowing and writing this, bolted on to the end of a creative brief today.

I didn’t think about it much; I just wrote.

Then I read it back and thought,


That’s OK that is.

I should probably have been writing things like that for years.”

Here’s (some of) what I wrote.

It’s the end part (only) of a bigger photography brief.

“This is as hard a brief as I have ever seen. We want the images and the footage to educate… No; brand… No; inform… No; train… No; record. No; PR… And some of these things are exact opposites.
So what we are asking these guys to do is really, really hard. I’d forgive them if they didn’t actually settle on precisely what to do until (say) the third shoot they did in the series.
This is the price we pay for being a brand and not wanting to do the same formulaic stuff that the others do.
As mentioned, if we want to save a few quid… just buy the shots from our competitors and bung our logo on. (I’m joking of course! But you know why I say that). So, whilst I make no apologies for how demanding we are being, I at the same time acknowledge that we will probably fall short in one or more areas – on this occasion.
I think we should afford them space and time. If we force it, we may end up with ‘painting by numbers sterile’ and not the masterpiece(s) we crave. 
I hope that we manage to create an atmosphere for them, on the day(s) where they get to do their best work. And in particular I hope that (Person A) guides them as to what’s expected, but not (too much) shot-by-shot-by-shot. They are not just technically brilliant, they are independent minds.”
Let’s see what happens.

First, I’d like to redefine the word ‘rumour’, from:

“A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth,”


“A currently circulating, really interesting story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.”

Because, these days, the much loved, anticipated and slavered-over rumours around apple’s iPhone launches include (things like) the phone being 1mm thinner, the lead changing, and the cleverness inside being able to remember more things, or do somethingorother faster.

‘Bit boring.

And that got me thinking.

If I’m going to moan about the lack of interesting innovation by apple in relation to their iPhones right now, what do I think next iPhone should do that it currently doesn’t do, then?

So here’s my list:

  1. Please can it become charged back up by a magic invisible thing that’s in a bar that I walk into?  Thank you.
  2. Please can it have a thing in it that projects the video I’m watching on my phone onto the wall so we can all watch it? Thank you.
  3. Make a foldy one, but more special (in a way I haven’t thought of yet) than those other ones. Thank you.
  4. Put a screen on the back for a reason I haven’t worked out yet and would probably u-turn on if you did. Thank you.
  5. Add waterpistol (no, forget that).

What else?

Not sure.

Or maybe what they are right now is, dare I say it, enough.

I’ll keep thinking.