Don’t just describe things.

Even if you’re really, really good at describing things.

Tell a story instead.

People like stories.

And they remember them, too.


One of the things that creativity is for.

Your creativity, I mean.

Is storytelling.

Admittedly some people are better at telling stories than others.

But it is within all of us to have a go.


The age old rules will help you.

Tell people what it does – for them.

(That’s a benefit).

Not just what it does.

(That’s a feature).

And the first principle of any business communications.

Of course.

Is to get noticed.

And the best way to get noticed.

Is to be different.

Stand out.





So be brave.

Don’t explain.


Don’t describe.

Fire the imagination.

Don’t tell.



And write for readers.

Not for you.

Or your boss.

Keep things simple.





Cheeky, even.

Stories Not Descriptions. 

Don’t just describe things.

Even if you’re really, really good at describing things.

Tell a story instead.

People like stories.

And they remember them, too.

Mr Benn tried on 14 outfits.

And therefore had 14 excellent adventures.

13 adventures were originally between 1971 and 1972.

With a 14th and final adventure being in 2005.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about.

You should probably stop reading.

(It’ll get no clearer for you).

And if you do.

Then carry on.

Mr. Benn.

Try to recall as many of Mr. Benn’s 14 adventures as you can.

And for a bonus point.

His address.

(Street and number).

Scroll down for the answers.

Marks out of 15.

(Don’t cheat).





















  1. Red Knight
  2. Hunter
  3. Clown
  4. Balloonist
  5. Wizard
  6. Spaceman
  7. Cook
  8. Caveman
  9. Zookeeper
  10. Frogman
  11. Cowboy
  12. Aladdin
  13. Pirate
  14. Gladiator

Mr. Benn lives at 52 Festive Road.

Segment your audience.

Understand each segment.

Hone your offer for each segment.

Tailor your words for each segment.

Then give each of them gifts.

Give willingly.

Give generously.

Give openly.

And consistently.

Help them.

Support them.

Give them little things they may find useful.

Take the time to get to know them.


And by personally I mean go beyond the segment.

To each and every person.

In each and every segment.




Message them about the precise part of your offer that is most relevant to them.

(And the better you get to know them.

The better you will be able to do that).

But do this only when you and they feel ready to have that conversation.

After you connect.

Really connect, I mean.

And if you have really connected.

You’ll know exactly when the right time is.


But that takes you and your brand so much bloody time.


So here is a different option.

The ‘Splat!’ option.

For the Splat! option, combine all your offers into one single, complete, more easily manageable clump of aggregated and layered blob of information.

Everything you want to say to everyone you want to speak to.

All in one place.

Then imagine that you are holding this blob of information in your arms.

Imagine this blob as a great big heavy ball of shite, if you like.

Then imagine all of your various targets stand in a ring around you.

Loads of them.

Beckon them closer with a nod.


Nod of your head.


When you are sure they are stood in the right place.

Raise your arms.

Lift your blob of shite.




Drop your one, single clump of aggregated, layered and all-encompassing blob of shite.

As hard as you can.

Onto the floor.


You got them!

Now you can feel amazing.

Because you hit all of them.

With hardly any effort.

You hit every single one of them with every single bit of information you have about your business much faster than the fannying about that I mentioned earlier.

It saved you time.

It saved you money.

Your hit rate was pretty much close to 100%!

So now you really can feel great.

Because the reach, precision, speed, scale and completeness of the task beats my earlier approach a hundred times over.

That’s the difference between me and you!

You cry.

And then you remember another difference as well.


You cry

That’s not the only difference.

You cry.

Because you just remembered something about your content.

You just remembered that not only did you get your content out there to more people, more completely and much, much faster than the first way

You also remembered the other big difference about your blob of content.

Which took a little bit of the shine off.

It was shite.


Drives me mad.

An industry that facilitates taking money from one group of people to create adverts.

And also facilitates the taking of money from the very people they were designed for.

So they can block them.



That said.

When adverts are brave.

And funny.

And daring.

And memorable.

And different.

So that they actually do make me like and remember the brand.

That, I forgive.


Take a look:


The most impressive thing about this interview.

Which was broadcast on Channel 4 on April 5th 1994.

Having taken place a couple of weeks before.

On March 15th 1994

Is how it has stuck with me.

For 25 years.


I was 27 when I saw it.

And I remember still some of the phrases.

Even though I only ever saw it once.

I remember how Dennis Potter confirmed to Melvyn Bragg that he was dying.

I remember the honesty of Dennis Potter in how he explored the idea that he had been a coward.

And I remember thinking that I could never do that.

I remember thinking that I could never say such a thing out loud.

Even though.

At the time.

I did think it.

And I remember wondering.

Way back then.

Whether knowing that I was going to die would change that.

I remember wondering whether a greater awareness of my own mortality would make me brave enough to admit that I was a coward.

How ironic.

The Pen.

Dennis Potter was an amazing man.

I’d wager that there is more beautiful, off-the-cuff storytelling in this 50 minute interview with Dennis Potter than you will hear in a hundred interviews from any other writers.

Listen out for what he says about the pen.

And what childhood actually feels like.

I’ve never forgotten that.

Dennis Potter.

Dennis Potter died on June 7th 1994.

So just 2 months after what you are about to watch.

Do the various behaviours and activities of your brand have a snowball effect?

What I mean is, do they feed into and from each other?

So that their cumulative power.

Magnifies you.

So that the snowballs gets bigger, if you like.

I ask, because The Snowball Effect.

Whether you knew it or not.

Is an opportunity for every brand.

The Snowball Effect.

The Snowball Effect is a big part of branding.

As I say.

Different brand behaviours feeding into and from each other.

So the snowball gets bigger.

Sometime the opportunity is missed.

So the snowball stays the same size.

And sometimes the brand is stupid.

So the snowball melts away.


I don’t dislike DHL really.

I just think they’re funny.

I spoke about the way they make business decisions here:

And now I’m going to talk about how they melt snowballs.

The Wrong Address.

The story I mentioned a sentence or two ago is about what happened when I redirected a parcel with DHL.

Here’s the bit I didn’t mention.

Here’s how DHL melted a snowball.

By having brand behaviours that definitely do not feed into and from each other.

Two Things.

Just after I’d discovered that DHL could redirect a parcel to me.

These two things happened.

First, they politely apologised that I’d have to listen to a 30 seconds(ish) disclaimer.

That they simply had to read to me.

Basically, it said that DHL took little or no responsibility for getting my redirected parcel from them.

To me.

I didn’t listen properly of course.

(Who does?)

I just rolled my eyeballs as they small-printed me to sleep with a tale of about how they’d do their best to get the redirect right.

But that it was not their sole responsibility to do so.


I thought.

But as I really couldn’t be arsed listening to the albeit very nice lady any more.

I said,


And that’s when the second thing happened.

The Second Thing.

Just before you go.

The lady said.

Can I ask, do you send parcels?

Can DHL help you?

Would you allow DHL to quote for you and your parcel sending needs?

I smiled.

And politely said.

To the company that had just taken 30 seconds of my time to say that they would take no responsibility for getting a parcel to their customer’s customer.

Ask if I wanted to entrust them to send Always Wear Red’s £1000 jumpers to mine.


Thank you.

I politely replied.

As before my very eyes.

This particular DHL snowball.

Turned quickly.

And permanently.

To water.

I had a package dispatched to me last week.

From a London supplier.

They entrusted it to DHL.

And off it flew.

The Wrong Address.

The address that the London supplier had on file for me.

Was my previous address.

My fault?


So once we found this out.

The conversation naturally turned to what we should do about it.

The Best That They Could Do.

My London supplier made a call to DHL and was told that ‘the best they could do’ was to hold the parcel at a local depot to me.

So that I could pick it up.

And that’s what my London supplier told me.



With that sorted.

I called DHL to check what identification I’d need to take along with me.

The conversation was interesting.

Because part way through I asked this:

Can you not just have it sent to a new address that I give you now?

My new address?

Here’s what they said:


So that’s what they did.

The Best You Can Do For Who?


It’s just a thought.

Maybe it’s a crazy thought.

But when you are thinking about ‘the best you can do’ as a business.

Make it the best you can do for the customer.

Not you.

Business Owners.

Business Leaders.

Team Leaders.

Project Managers.

Account Managers.

Customer Service People.

Sales People.

Customer Care People.

Account Handlers.

Are you aware that that phrase you use.

You know the one.


(As Soon As Possible).

Are you aware that when you say it.

What it means to us out here is two fold?

Well, it is.

And here are the two things that it means to us:

  1. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.
  2. But it also means that you don’t know what’s going on. And that you have neither the drive nor the nouse to even try to find out what’s going on. And that you have allowed yourself, your business and me, to be completely at the mercy of unnamed people doing untimed things. In short – you’re unorganised. Or lazy. Or both.

I’d much rather you said (something like):

“You know what Mychael, it’s 10am on Monday 3rd and I can’t give you an exact answer. Here’s exactly what I’m doing though.

I spoke to Bob in dispatch at 9am. Then I spoke to Vanessa who leads the van fleet at 9.15am and she wasn’t sure either.

So, I’m going to call Jane – she oversees both departments, at 10.30am. Today. This is the moment she gets back.

Then I have to make two more calls on the back of what Jane tells me. Then I’ll call you. At midday sharp. To tell you what I’ve learned.

Is that OK with you?


ASAP gives me absolutely no information of any use whatsoever.

Apart from the two points above.

And it also reveals that you, the person dedicated to look after me, has absolutely no information of any use whatsoever, nor are you showing any evidence that you are even trying to be in control of when you will have.

The result?

I see you as lazy.

And your business as lazy

And your brand as lazy.

So don’t say it.


Children don’t plan.

And they have loads of fun.

Being creative.

And spontaneous.

Reacting to what happens next.

As a consequence of what they just did.

And making it up as they giggle and toddle and wobble along.


It’s not that we shouldn’t plan.

We should.

But it’s worth remembering that a plan is simply your ideas about the best way of doing something.

Based on your ideas of what a best outcome looks like.

At one moment in time.

And it is definitely worth remembering that both of those things.

(The best way of doing something.

And the best outcome).

Are fluid.

They will change.

And therefore, so too should your plan.

Measuring and Managing.

Measuring and managing the fluidity and the change is important, of course.

And that in itself is a good enough reason for planning in the first place.

So that when you deviate.

When you change.

You know what you’ve deviated and changed from.

So you can adjust your plan accordingly.

And react.

Just like the children do when they are giggling and toddling and wobbling along.

Here and Now.

A final point is that with less planning.


You’re more present.

You are more in the here and now.

Because you’re not looking behind you at something you wrote.

About something in front of you that you haven’t done yet.

And that sounds good to me.

So maybe the children do have it right?

Children don’t plan.

And they have loads of fun.

Being creative.

And spontaneous.

Reacting to what happens next.

As a consequence of what they just did.

And making it up as they giggle and toddle and wobble along.

I worked for the North East of England’s biggest and best modelling agency for a couple of years.

Tyne Tees Models.

Not as a model of course.

(I know that will come as a surprise to you).

But as a Brand Strategist.


I worked with founder Lesley.

To home in on the magic of the brand.

Then to develop the outward narrative and messaging for the brand.

Then brand and campaign slogans.


I wanted the brand to be brave.

Because Lesley’s brilliant business had been going for 25 years and, I thought, deserved growth.

(And bravery.

On my watch.

Brings that).

Specifically, I thought that more agencies in the south of England should book these northern models.

Because so many southern brands used the same old southern models.

Over and over.

And from that thought.

We developed strategies and campaigns to give us the ‘in’.


I pushed Lesley to be brave.

So here are some of the ideas that did run.

And one that didn’t.

Tyne Tees Models. 

The Tyne Tees Models Slogan, which we trademarked.



It’s a double entendre.

Of course models are more often than not striking in some way.

So you look.

But this also homes in on the actual job of a modelling agency.

To raise awareness of the client brand.

To make the client’s customers look.



We also developed this line:

Matching Models to Missions since 1984.

Because Tyne Tees Models are sure about what they are for.

They really do match the best model to the precise client mission.

What I mean is.

Lesley’s models don’t just turn up and stand there.

The Beautiful North.

Then we developed a simple, memorable and slightly disruptive campaign called:

The Beautiful North.

(A riff on The Beautiful South).

This was designed to catch the eye of the southern agencies.

To get Tyne Tees Models noticed.

To make the southern agencies smile a little, too.

It looked great.

Too Far?

But is there such a thing as going too far?

Is there such a thing as being too outrageous with business communications?

My job is to get my clients noticed.

To start conversations.

To help my clients to stand out.

And maybe by being a little outrageous along the way, too.

It’s hard to find ‘the line’.

And harder still to cross it.

But I did find (and cross) the line with Lesley.

Thick and Thin. 

Tyne Tees Models is truly different.

They really do:

Match Models to Missions.

They’re commercially driven.

And the range of models they have is huge.

Many Tyne Tees Models models don’t look like models.

(That’s the point).

And I wanted to start a conversation about unusual looking and commercially aware models.

I wanted to subvert the traditional ideas of what a model was.

And I wanted to do this with a Direct Mail campaign to southern agencies.

Those that booked models.

On the cover of the direct mail I wanted there to be an attractive, slim model.

With the headline:

Thick and Thin.

That was all.

An eye-catching, daring and self-depreciating perception around models and the modelling sector.

A conversation starter.

Something arresting so that I could then lead the conversation very quickly to subvert the stereotype and say how TTM did things differently.

We’re not thick.

(We understand your marketing and brand building).

And we’re not all thin.

(We have a huge range of real-world models).

It never ran.

And I do understand why.

But I am glad I did this.

Because I pushed to ‘the line’.

The Line.

I’d encourage you to push for the line, too.

To be brave.

It’s part of our jobs as creative communicators to do that.

It’s our jobs to make clients feel uneasy sometimes.

Because in an over communicated world that’s very often what you have to do to get noticed.

So have fun!

Keep organisational objectives and strategy in mind.

But most off all.

Do be brave.