Projects are like…

June 16, 2008


The bigger they are, the smaller bites you need to take out of them each time.

Trying to take a huge bite out of a large, crusty, fully stuffed demi-baguette can really hurt and tears up the roof of your mouth in the process (just trust me on this).

Trying to get too much done too quickly on a project can leave you feeling much the same.

Take your time though, and the whole process looks a lot less intimidating. Taking small bites out of your project/sandwich is quick, easy and gives you momentum – see The importance of the quick win.

As many procrastinators know, the first bite is the hardest – but that doesn’t mean it has to be the deepest.

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Photo by Flickr user, Julie70, shared under a Creative Commons license.


Explaining Micro-blogging with Saturday Night Live

April 6, 2008

Blogging is a tough concept for a lot of clients to grasp, but when you layer in micro-blogging (Twitter, Jaiku, etc) on top of it, it’s a whole different ball game.

How can you coherently explain the need for people to communicate through a public (and searchable) interface to each other via 140 characters or less?

And this morning I realised that all you need to know can be found in Saturday Night Live.

Blogging is:

The sketches. As a blogger/sketch writer, you can develop your thoughts, introduce complex concepts and take a “deep dive” into your subject matter. You can give it some more cow-bell.

Micro-blogging is:

Weekend Update. A chance to informally throw out pithy comments, and have a dialogue on, anything that interests you. Found a link or had a quick thought? Want to add your insight to an existing conversation? Micro-blog it!

Micro-blogging means:

Micro-blogging means you don’t need to take that initial thought and spend the time to develop it into a full on blog post – although you could if you wanted to. (this post could’ve easily been a Twitter update.

Micro-blogging means no more boring “link posts” which no one reads anyway. Add some value to your community by Twittering your interesting links.

Micro-blogging means the chance to get immediate feedback from your social graph. No one reads your boring link posts anyway, and just a few more read your emails with links in. So why put any more effort into them? Copy, paste to Twitter and hit update. Quick. Easy.

So, if you want to get links to stuff that I’ve found interesting, to my “Weekday Update”, like this video, please feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Marketing is…

February 25, 2008

just like cooking.

You can only go so far improving on what you’ve done before by getting better and better ingredients. Sometimes you just need better recipes.

So I would argue that Google really does have a better product than the competition — not because we have more or better ingredients, but because we have better recipes. And we are continuously improving those recipes precisely because we know the competition is only a click away. We can’t fall back on economies of scale, or switching costs, or network effects, to isolate us from the competition.

Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist. Via Valleywag (where else?).

Getting ahead in your career is like

January 17, 2008

…losing weight.

I got an email this morning from Men’s Health – I have a lot of clients interested in email programmes, so I have to subscribe to lots of newsletters – describing the best way to lose weight. Rather charmingly, it’s called “Belly Off!” and today’s email outlined the following steps that I think are perfect steps for your career:

1. Define your goal. It could be to *ahem* lose 10 pounds* in the next month or it could be to get promoted in your next review.

2. Find a supporter. You need someone to confide in when the chips are down (literally and figuratively in this analogy) and someone to keep you on track with your goals when your motivation wanes. Basically, don’t try and go it alone.

3. Measure your progress. If you don’t measure, how can you really know that you’re improving and nearing your goal. Benchmarking is key in both business and life.

4. Record your progress. Just as writing down your progress in your workouts will motivate you even more, recording your career progress will show you where you need to concentrate your efforts and provide you with something concrete to show your boss when it comes to review time.

* 3 down, seven to go…

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Agency relationships are like…

January 4, 2008

jeans. Naturally.

I’m getting ready (physically and emotionally) to chuck my favourite pair of jeans and I realised just how much like my jeans are to an agency relationship. With me as a client.

  • When I bought them, I shopped around for many different brands and fits.
  • I made a conscious decision not to skimp on the cost – and they’ve delivered in spades. I’ve had cheap jeans that look great on the hanger but that just haven’t lasted the course.
  • I had to make a few initial alterations (shortening the legs).
  • On the advice of a consultant, I didn’t wash them for six months, just let them get comfortable. I’ve really enjoyed the benefits since – they haven’t stretched or shrunk. They are, in the words of Goldilocks, just right.
  • They are now unique to me – the small rips and frays, the discolourations, where my belt buckle rubs.
  • They’ve lasted five good years.

But now my CMO wants an agency review, and I’ve had to give them the bad news, it’s hard to let them go.

Meetings are like golf

December 10, 2007

One of my housemates at Uni was, and still is, an amazing golfer. Actually, two of my old housemates are amazing golfers but I forget about one because he abandoned us after less than a week to move in with his girlfriend. Who lived with my (then) girlfriend. But I digress.

Whenever we played golf, he would patiently watch me hack my way around the course and, whenever I was in the rough around the green, offered me this advice.

“Your worst putt [from the fringe] will be better than your best chip, so put down your pitching wedge and pick up your putter.”

So it’s worth remembering that your weakest note-taking will be better than your strongest, deepest, memory.

So make sure you put down your ego, which tells you you can remember everything and pick up your pen.

Online Marketing is…

November 26, 2007

a contact sport.

To do it well, you need to be totally committed.

Do it wrong, do it half-heartedly and you’ll get hurt. Do it right, do it with passion and conviction and you’ll get what you deserve.

There’s no guarantee you won’t still get hurt, but if you’re committed, try hard and give your all, the game will look after you.

Corporate messaging should be done by…

October 1, 2007

Gordon Ramsay.

Every episode of (the always excellent) Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares has him saying the same thing that food needs to be:




How does that sound? Even complex, labyrinthine problems and their solutions can be expressed in clean, simple terms with a fresh perspective. 

Marketing is…Herculean

September 16, 2007

Last week I was reminded, by my boss, of my long lost love for Greek and Roman mythology. Coupled with watching the excellent “300” for the first time, I started comparing what I do and what I write about, with what I used to read about.

Which logically got me wondering how the two would translate. So here are the Twelve Labours of Hercules, if Hercules was a marketer.


In my mind, it’s a great allegory because the tasks of Hercules were seen as a great penance for an unthinkable wrong. Hercules himself was seen as clever, playful figure who would cheat or use any unfair advantage to get what he wanted.

In the modern day, marketers are often seen as having something to be repentant for, and for cheating and using any advantage (fair or foul) for their own good.

Hercules was also supposed to finish his 10 (not 12) tasks alone but the presence of outside help for two of his labours meant he had to perform two additional tasks.

On the flip side, marketers often have agencies to create even more work for them!

The Twelve Labours of Marketers:

Slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its hide.

The modern-day Hercules must defeat an aggressive foe and bring proof of their success – is there a better metaphor for media relations?

Slay the Lernaean Hydra.

The hydra had many heads that grew back as soon as one was cut off – sounds like an all-agency review to me!

Capture the Ceryneian Hind.

Hercules chased the elusive hind throughout Greece for one year before finally capturing it – anyone who’s worked with a tier one publication for a huge feature story will know how this feels. And the vindication that comes with success.

Capture the Erymanthian Boar.

To do this, Hercules needed to eat and drink with the centaurs before realising he had to drive the boar into a snow drift to win. Today’s version? Consulting with a wise agency on the best way to get your company to start a blog – before driving your boss into a snow drift of reason and supporting information.

Clean the Augean stables in a single day.

Getting rid of all the horse-shitake and leaving the place as good as new? Must be time to clean up those lists – lead generation or media, depending on where you are.

Slay the Stymphalian Birds.

Man-eating birds with claws of brass and sharp metallic feathers? Who spew toxic dung? Hello blogger relations programme!

Capture the Cretan Bull.

Hercules’s labour was simple – capture a wild bull that was wrecking havoc on the island of Crete. Your task – get on top of the ad-agency whose poorly-planned media buy is wrecking your brand.

Steal the Mares of Diomedes.

This task called for Hercules to steal a herd of man-eating horses from a murderous king. How about snagging that all important media-partnership from under your rival’s nose?

Obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte.

Hippolyte was so impressed with Hercules’s muscles and lion skin that she gave him what he wanted without a fight – rather like the marketing team approached to do a co-promotion with Apple.

Obtain the Cows of Geryon.

Geryon was a giant with three bodies and three heads who herded magnificent red cattle. Once Hercules had killed him and stolen his cattle, Hera sent a fly to sting every single one of the cattle which scattered them up. Hercules had to round them up, all over again – just like a product recall.

Steal the Apples of the Hesperides.

Hire a competitor’s Public Relations director – with the help of a talented recruitment agent who can take the weight of the world of their shoulders!

Capture Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, and bring him back.

Congratulations, you just got your promotion to the C-suite!

Do you think you can complete your 12 Labours?

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Writing good is just like…

September 14, 2007

Pizza. Of course!

If you want to make one, you have a set structure to follow. They’re easy to do, but hard to do really well and you look pretty stupid if you get it wrong. Both go well with cold beer.  Fresh is better than frozen and…

Both need the write (groan) combination of cheese and spice.

Image from Flickr user Vita Arina; awful puns by Ed Lee.

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