The truth is you have no choice but to innovate…

“The truth is you have no choice but to innovate.  Business cycles are so fast now, things that work for a period of time don’t work for very long, and you have to keep changing.”

Founder and CEO of Tough Mudder, Will Dean in conversation with Sarah Robb O’Hagan.

“You just do things that you find scary and after a while, they cease to be scary.”

Full interview HERE

Bad news for online advertisers – you’ve been ’ad – John Naughton

The old line was, “the trouble with advertising is that only 50% of it works and you don’t know which 50%”.

My concerns about digital marketing are not about the process per se but rather about the number of people who claim to be “experts”, I think my Linkedin connect requests have become 50% “I’m a digital marketer and I have an innovative solution for dentists” and 50% “the rest”. These new contacts usually tell me that dentists aren’t switched on enough, they don’t return their calls and don’t they want to gain “limitless” (I kid you not) new patients (that’s if they can remember to call them patients). I try to explain that as a professional marketer they really ought to take some time to research their own market, I then also tell them that no I don’t see patients myself and I’m sorry I am not going to introduce them to all my clients just because they are obviously young and oh so clever.

I am reminded of the people who were in financial services at one point selling endowment policies that messed up the financial planning for many. 

You see I’m an old fashioned “duct-tape marketing” fan who thinks that you should use as many free or ‘as low-cost as possible’ systems before putting your hands in your pocket. I’m choosing to be deliberately Luddite here but I suggest that you apply a coat of scepticism before parting with cash. (Never forget that Facebook is an advertising company with ambitions to rule the world by deciding what news it decides you will read.)

John Naughton’s piece in the Observer on Sunday hit the nail on the head as usual. I particularly like the phrase surveillance capitalism.

There is, alas, no such thing as a free lunch. The trouble with digital technology, though, is that for a long time it encouraged us to believe that this law of nature had been suspended. Take email as an example. In the old days, if you wanted to send a friend a postcard saying: “Just thinking of you”, you had to find a postcard and a pen, write the message, find a stamp and walk to a postbox. Two days later – if you were lucky – your card reached its destination. But with email you just type the message, press “send” and in an instant it is delivered to your friend’s inbox, sometimes at the other end of the world. No stamp, no expense, no hassle.

It is the same with using the cloud to store our digital photographs, browse the web, download podcasts, watch YouTube Lolcats, look up Wikipedia and check our Facebook newsfeeds. All free.

Well, up to a point. Most of us eventually tumbled to the realisation that if the service is free, we are the product. Or, rather, our personal data and the digital trails we leave on the web are the product. The data is sliced, diced and sold to advertisers in a vast, hidden – and totally unregulated – system of high-speed, computerised auctions that ensure each user can be exposed to ads that precisely match their interests, demographics and gender identity.

And this is done with amazing, fine-grained resolution: Facebook, for example, holds 98 data points on every user. Welcome to the world of “surveillance capitalism”.


The Weekend Read – What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark H McCormack

9781781253397First published in 1984, I see that it is still one of the top sellers in the Business sections of airport book shops. Its very longevity proves that it either must have something going for it or because it has always been popular it must be good. Well you pays your money and you takes your choice. I find it a well written, easily digestible book with plenty to offer anyone in any business.

I read it when it was first released by Collins in 1984 (so yet another thank you to my Dad)  thinking that the lessons of “big business” which at the time were a million miles away from my life as a peripatetic associate in dental practices would not apply to my life. In this as in many other things I was wrong – the fundamentals of business large or small are the same. I have re-read it a couple of times since and although the landscape may have changed the fundamentals have not – nor will they.

The book is split into three sections People, Sales & Negotiations, and Running a Business. The opening four chapters should be compulsory reading for all new dental graduates including as they do with getting on with people, making an impression and getting ahead. The Sales and Negotiations isn’t as high blown as you may think and has plenty of nitty gritty advice.

The last four chapters on running a business are invaluable to anyone thinking about getting into business on their own or wanting to be a first class employee. There is a lot of B***S*** spoken these days about being an entrepreneur; those people who say they want to be an entrepreneur, especially in dentistry, would do well to read the last chapter of the book where he states that 99% of people should work for somebody. Start by examining your motives and if they are dreams, if you are running away from things or you ‘want to make a lot of money’ then McCormack writes, “forget it”.

In case you don’t know who Mark McCormack was (he died in 2003) here’s the blurb, “dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sport’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification. Here, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues such as analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.”

Available from The Book Depository.

Building A 21st Century Brand

writing brand concept

From the “The Story of Telling”, and as always, well worth a read. Full article here

Forty years ago a brand was an identifier. Branding was what we did to the outside of a product or service after it was conceived and created. Brands became tales woven to increase visibility and memorability using design, clever copy, print and TV…….

….But this isn’t how you build a beloved brand now. Today a brand is a promise that people align with, believe and invest in and branding begins from the inside out. 21st century brands are purpose-driven. They have a reason to exist beyond making a profit, and they no longer aim to appeal to the average or everyone……

….If the nature and function of brands have changed, then the process for developing brands and brand stories must evolve too. We’ll be on our way when we begin by prioritising the objectives on the second list. A brand story is no longer like the top coat of gloss paint applied at the last moment to make the surface shinier and more immediately attractive. It’s the undercoat that often nobody sees, but which allows the brand to endure.



The Monday Morning Quote #394

You can fool all the people some of the time,

and some of the people all the time,

but you cannot fool all the people all the time.


Ads and Blockers

Online Advertising On Laptop Shows Websites Promotions And Ecommerce Strategies

My friends are fed up of hearing me bang on about digital advertising and (to a certain extent) digital marketing generally. I believe that much of it is smoke and mirrors sold to the unwary with promises of subsequent success which, like all advertising is impossible to measure. The old gag that only half of advertising works the problem being that nobody knows which half, is still as true as ever, except I am not convinced the figures for half working don’t greatly exaggerate its efficaciousness.

Perhaps I am outlier, I mute TVs when adverts appear (including the BBC’s repetitive self-publicity) and I do have ad-blockers on most digital devices. Ghostery has opened my eyes to the extent to which we are followed by people trying to flog us any and everything, most of which I neither want or need. I enjoy looking at ads in magazines but rarely remember what they are promoting. I have been chuntering on for several years to anyone who will listen that, “the world is full of two sorts of people, those who have ad-blockers and those who don’t realise that ad-blockers exist.”

From Private Eye issue 1429 14-27 October 2016.

“Despite repeated assurances by ad agencies to their clients that customers are craving branded content with which to “engage”, it seems consumers are increasingly inclined to avoid digital marketing wherever possible.

Recent findings by market researchers TNS suggest that over a quarter of people online “actively avoid” sponsored content, while a third feel they are “constantly followed” by online advertising. Even better, data from the Internet Advertising Bureau show that when asked why they block ads on-line, the most popular response is”[I] found out ad-blockers exist” – or, put more simply, “because we can”.

Case rested.

PS John Hegarty’s book on Advertising, Turning Intelligence into Magic, is a must read for anyone who has an interest in the subject of advertising.


Today’s Twitter Rules by Bob Lefsetz

authorBob Lefsetz writes the Lefsetz Lettter (compulsive reading for we ageing music fans). Famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.Never boring, always entertaining, Bob’s insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music’s American division and consultancies to major labels.


Nothing will get someone to unfollow you faster than constant links to your appearances online, trying to bolster your brand. We already follow you, we believe in you, we want to bond with you, but when you keep selling to us it’s a turn-off.


First and foremost, Twitter is a news service. Informing your followers is the number one thing you can do. Turn them on to stories that give them insight into popular topics and expand their horizons. You’re a courier, your personal curation skills are your calling card. We’re all hoovering up information, we’re looking to separate the wheat from the chaff, if you come across a brilliant analysis, tweet it, if you stumble upon a story that fleshes out a popular topic, tweet it, we’re following your intellect, your curiosity, more than your shenanigans.


We want to bond with you. In a cold world of endless messages we want to have friends. Just don’t tweet links, add some spin. Either your opinion or your emotional reaction.


Those trying to appeal to everybody appeal to nobody. Your edge is your advantage. Don’t worry about alienating some mythical segment of the population, everyone is never gonna follow you, there’s a huge tribe with similar viewpoints if you can just find it.


If you’re tweeting all day it shows you have no life, that you’re trying to become famous, and that’s a turn-off. If you’re at an event, feel free to go on a tweetstorm, as long as it’s informative and not just “look at me!” Otherwise, limit your tweets to four or five a day…certainly fewer than ten. If you’re thinking about your online life, about what you’re going to tweet next, you’re doing it wrong. You should encounter something, whether it be online or in real life, and be so inspired you want to tweet about it.


If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. There’s someone who’s gonna hate everything you say, if for no other reason than you have followers and they don’t. In an anonymous world, haters just double down. Ignore them. Don’t even bother to unfollow them, that shows they’ve gotten to you.


Sure, post your cat videos, other heartstring-pullers, but know it’s a low, gutter activity, he’s who’s trolling for love is ultimately unlovable, because they don’t love themselves.


Only matter if you’re not trying to rally support. Twitter is very intimate. We want to know what’s going on in your head. If you’re trying to build a movement… That had better be your main goal of being on Twitter. And never forget, further fame for yourself, or furtherance of your artistic career, is not a qualifying movement.


Jammed up in traffic? In the midst of a natural disaster? Tweet about it! Skilled users search for keywords. Forget hashtags, that’s for those looking for fame, a false enterprise. When I’m stuck on the 101 I search that highway and the Hollywood Bowl and I find out what’s slowing me down. As for those too ignorant or unskilled to do this? Forget about them. Online is for those who’ve learned on the fly, who are curious, who want more. Twitter is the land of power users. But you can enjoy the site quite a lot without being one, it’s just a different experience.


Full article continues here