Thursday, December 31, 2009

Roundhay Bandstand Photographs

Just nipped to Roundhay Park in Leeds and took some really quick pictures inside one of the lovely bandstands in there.

I remembered photo collages by David Hockney and thought I'd have a go. It's very rough I took less than 5 minutes to take all eight images with by small digital compact. I then chucked them together in Photoshop. Not the greatest shots but a lot of fun.

To take a closer look double click on the picture.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New year planning, stop spamming comments

I just popped on here to post about planning for the new year in your business. As I logged on I noticed I had a comment to moderate. I love getting comments because like most bloggers, I don't get many. So imagine my frustration, it won't be hard, when it was a huge spam comment full of links and targeted text, with no connection to the post it was commenting on.

I've been doing SEO for quite a while now and I understand the reason behind the tactics, but this is 2009, nearly 2010, and spamming comments is so 1999!

So if there's one thing I'd advise as planning for 2010, if this type of SEO work was in your plan ditch it and start again. I love comments on my blog, but this kind just get deleted. The spammer wasted their time and mine, a net loss of effort.

Sorry for the rant, Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sage Advice from Seth Godin

Yet again Seth Godin inspires me. His latest blog post extols you to just get on with it, if you've never done anything before using this internet thingy, then start now and catch up quickly!

All the tools are out there you just need to use them, most are even free, they just need you to put some work and energy in. I've used most of these in my previous jobs. Just started at Global Lingo as Director of Marketing, and they're dying to grow as much as they can, so I'll be using some of Seth's points to get things moving quickly.

You should too.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Focus on the goal of your website

When you're building or writing your website the first thing you should consider is:

What exactly do I want this site to do?

Now the fist thing to come in to your head will be - Sell, be read, make me famous etc (depending on who you are)

But once you've got that you need to delve deeper, who do you want to sell to? What type of people are you looking to read your site? What do you want to be famous for?

You need to delve down and focus on your core market, you can't possibly reach an entire population, country, world, universe so don't even try all you'll be is bland and no one buys bland.

Focus your site on what you want to deliver, what really burns in your soul (or your warehouse)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When even a closing down sale doesn't help

Today I visited Borders book store. I've never seen it so busy just goes to show that the British love nothing like a bargain. Odd thing is that though it was packed not many people where buying. I picked up a book but decided against buying it, not sure why just didn't feel right.

And that's the problem with Borders, it doesn't feel right. Sure there's a Starbucks but the whole shop just feel wrong. It has a huge mish mash of stuff in there, books, CD's, stationery, household items, toys and loads of other stuff.

Borders' never knew if it was coming or going and neither did the buying public. Though it didn't buy the book in borders I walked around to Waterstones and I bought a book there, I paid full price when I'm sure if Borders had felt right I could have bought there for a lot less. But in Waterstones it felt right, because it is just a book shop that's what they do.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Choosing a company name

There are several trains of thought on this.
  1. Pick a name which describes the business
  2. Pick a name which uses a made-up word
  3. Use your own name

1. If you have a complex business, then giving a descriptive name which does it justice will be difficult

2. Made-up word can be a great way to create standout, it also makes finding you easier. Seth Godin started Squidoo for that very reason. If you heard of it you'd remember the name because it is so unusual.

3. Using your own name may sound a bit lazy, but think about it. People all ready know you you already have a reputation and therefore a story. If you give a 'brand' name to yourself, there's a dilution of the story as you have to start explaining your decision.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why long is better than short

In a world of sound bites where everything needs to be in short easily remembered sound bites, there's a common thought that everything needs to be short. Weather that's copy on a website, a TV series, a song, book, film, take your pick.

But all this flies in the face of the facts. Long things when engaging, interesting, artistic, of merit and relevant are pretty much always more appreciated over time, where as sound bites are just that and are quickly forgotten, there are notable exceptions, but most of those actually re-enforce the rule of long because they are made to entice you into the main long element.

I'm listening to The Stone Roses re-mastered on Spotify at the moment and one of my favourite tracks is Fools Gold, it's also a firm favourite of most Stone Roses fans. At 9.52 minutes for some people it's over long, but for a fan who's head starts bobbing from the opening notes it's just not long enough! In a similar vein Stairway to Heaven and Bohemian Rhapsody are stupidly long but and untouchable to their fans. Can you say that about 3 minutes of Lady GaGa?

Same applies to loads of other things which delight and amaze people, you try telling a fan of Lord of the Rings the films and books are too long and difficult. Try saying that watching 24 takes too much time!

In sport even. The World Snooker Championships takes two weeks to complete with some sessions going on into the middle of the next morning. The Ashes and test cricket take 5 days to play one game which may then end in a draw. American Football takes forever to finish as does baseball.

In art, is the Sistine Chapel ceiling too big and detailed? Jackson Pollock paintings too long?

In advertising, why do you think some infomercials are a whole 3 minutes long? And that long engaging copy in direct mail letters works better than short copy? Because it tells a story which is interesting and captivating to the customers who are disposed to buy the products. It's not trying to convince every viewer to buy, how could it? No it works hard on the relevant people and converts them.

What all these have in common is a craftsmanship which takes a long time to perfect, it's then perfectly articulated which makes it enduring, relevant and in a way addictive.

So when some one says that things need to be short because people don't have the attention span then they're clearly looking at the population in general. Fine if you want a quick hit and disappear.

But if you want to stay around for a long time better make things well crafted, interesting, relevant and if its needed long.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Using relevant targeted TV ads

It's Friday and I'm watching crap TV, that's why the ads seem a little more interesting. Lately they haven't been.

I spotted an ad just now that will never win any awards, the direction is functional, the script direct. It has no superstars in it and no whispering back and white film noir camera work. But this is a great TV ad, why is is great. Well because it speaks directly to the audience its targeted at. The ad is for the biggest dating website.

Don't click away

The ad for was so great because it was timely and relevant. The script is along the lines of "Last month we said we didn't have enough men on Well we now have loads more new men". It then signed off with it's 6 month guarantee.

There was no need to fill in the blanks of "So ladies that means there are loads of new men to date" because the ad had achieved that easily and the interested single ladies knew exactly what to do.

The best bit for is that they will be able to measure success. The equation is simple Cost of Ad/Number of new signups and returning users equals ROI. Simples! (as another measurable clever ad keeps saying)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get rich quick schemes on Twitter

The web is like any other medium it soon gets filled by spammers and get rich quick artists who sell on thier idea to poor unsuspecting suckers in the hope of creaming off a few quid.

Twitter has been caught up in that in the only way it could - incredibly fast!

The number of tweets promising ways of getting 1000's of followers is incredible, even twitterers who have good long standing reputation get caught up in the volume game (I question on such and didn't get an answer). The question is why? What the point of having millions of followers if:
  1. They don't know who you are
  2. They have no relationship with you or your knowledge

If there two things at least aren't met then there is no connect with your message and therefore no point having millions of followers because you can't influence their behaviour. It all comes down to permission to speak to people. Twiterers are far better off having and handful of followers who will listen act and respond than millions who don't care.

Quality over Quantity every time

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Internet as a social history or people sticking old pictures on FaceBook

The Internet now makes saving peoples personal history easier than ever. That's a pretty obvious statement to people who's been using the web for a long time, but for some it's nothing short of a miracle.

Recently my sister died, very suddenly and unexpected. She'd just joined FaceBook and hadn't added must stuff but what she did add is still there and it's nice to look back and see her writing and pictures, I can hear her reading them as I read them. When she died I created a group for people to leave their memories of her and also as a way to let people who she knew but had lost touch with what had happened. The response was amazing with over 100 people joining and many leaving memories of her as well as their own pictures with her in.

My parents aren't on the Internet and probably never will be so they'll never get to see the group. I printed out everything which had been posted and gave it to them and her husband. They were overwhelmed with the response and amazed that this could have happened. The great thing is that that group, which is still active is a social history of my sister in a way that could never have happened before the Internet and FaceBook in particular.

I was just browsing FaceBook again a few minutes ago and found a group all about memories and pictures of Sheffield, my home city. Normally the images here, well over 500, would have been in dusty boxes in a back room or in a museum collection. But know they're there for people to look through, comment and add your own to whenever you want.

If I needed to find out about my past I needed to talk to the older generation who would take their stories and images with them when they died. My children will have an amazing record of nearly everything I ever did and everything everyone else ever did too. I still find that truly amazing.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Banksy vs Bristol Museum and why it's important

On Tuesday I visited Banksy vs Bristol Museum. It was my first time in Bristol and firstly I've got to day that Bristol while obviously spending loads of money on the city centre couldn't organises a piss up in a brewery. There were loads of signs for parking but then the signs disappeared, there were no signs for the city centre, I asked a man cleaning a lamp post. And there were absolutely no signs for the Banksy exhibition.
I gave me the feeling that Bristol is ashamed of itself and a bit embarrassed by Banksy and what he's achieved. I'm sure lots of Bristol people love what he does and how he does it, but you get the feeling that whoever is running Bristol Council can't get their heads around promoting someone who they see as essentially a criminal.

Having said all that all this just plays into Banksy's hands. He loves the fact that he's so underground no one knows who he is or what he'll do next. Guess that why I love the work so much too. No fanfare, no marketing (at least overtly) just turn up and see his work for free. He's the ultimate Guerrilla Marketer.

The two hour wait in the rain was well worth it though. Three rooms full of Banksy paintings, sculptures, animatronics and audio. For me the best bits were off-piste. He'd been give free reign around the museum, so lots of time was spent hunting through dusty cabinets no one had looked at in years in search of hidden dildos in Stalagmite displays and for sale signs on the back of ancient pottery. Most of the exhibits can't ever have been looked at quite as much as while this exhibition is on.

The great thing was that photography was allowed, here's my Bansky Photo collection.

If you get a chance must must go, it's free to get in there's just the small issue of a two hour queue.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Social Networking, Twitter, Linkedin, FaceBook and all that

When is it too soon to begin a social networking marketing campaign? Twitter, Linkedin, FaceBook et all are all the rage at the moment and lots and lots of companies are using them to great effect. But there are a lot of companies who fail to understand the strength of the opportunity and are waiting for the best time to add it to their armoury.

What they aren't grasping is that there is never a right time to enter this now. The time to enter was about 2 years ago. Yes Twitter may not last very much longer, but there'll be something else around the corner and when that comes on you should move over to it.

Social Networking is just the same as word of mouth which is proven to be the strongest form of marketing, what scares people is the technology and time involved.

Yes it can be a time vampire but it means that you're spending time speak to your customers, asking them about your products and services and listening when they tell you something is crap, taking it on the chin and fixing it. When you get down to brass tacks and speak to customers fixing their real problems that's when magical things start to happen.

All Twitter, Linkedin and FaceBook do is make the process so much quicker and direct.

So if your company or organisation hasn't started using Social Networking yet then don't hang around start it now!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Jarvis did win over Bruce at Glastonbury

This is my first post, post Glastonbury. It was a great festival this year, despite a lot of people being very apprehensive about the line up. I must admit I was one of them.

To my mind there were too many old acts who were past it by quite a way. Most of them were a lot better than I expected except Crosby, Stills and Nash who were dull and droning and went on far too long.

When it came to the big headline act on Saturday I did just as I thought I might and ducked out of seeing Bruce Springsteen on the Pyramid stage and popped over to see Jarvis Cocker on John Peel.

Sounds like this was a great move, the John Peel stage is really good because you can get pretty close to the stage plus it's covered so no chance of getting wet. The added bonus was that I got there early enough to see White Lies before Jarvis came on. Had no idea what they were like before but I'm quite a fan now.

Jarvis was his usual erudite self with quite long periods of chatting to the audience. The expected Michael Jackson mentions never appeared though and neither did the covers of Pulp tracks which I'm sure some people would have liked. He started the set with Pilchard which is defiantly one of the best tracks on the new album and then rattled through most of his solo tracks. Some nutter came on half way through and gave him a bottle of Champagne and called him a "great working class hero" he seemed really surprised at this especially as he's never really worked!

The people who did see Bruce Springsteen said that it was pretty dull and even people who were fans were pretty disappointed.

All in all an amazing festival, can't wait for next year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Great Straight Forward Advice for all Marketers

I've just read the best post all year. It's on basically it gives straight forward advice which most marketers will run a mile from but for those who take it will be worth its weight in gold.

Here's the secret marketing 'trick' that'll guarantee to make you a fortune.

Speak to your customers

Let them tell you what works on your site, ask them abut new products and promotions. Do they think you're offering the best customer service. If they see problems do you react quickly to fix them or do you just brush it off as another annoying customer.

Reacting quickly and asking takes time and god forbid you have to speak to customers but in the end they are the ones spending cash, ignore them at your peril. Quite a few already have and they aren't around anymore (Woolworths anyone?)

Anyway Psychotactics put it in actual things to do, check out thier post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jack White and The Dead Weather to play Glastonbury 2009

I was just listening to Spotify and as I'm tight I had it set to free. One of the ads mentioned Jack White's new band, The Dead Weather. I like Jack so I checked out their website on the tour page it seems they have a date at The Forum in London on 24th June.

It just seems quite a coincidence that that is only 2 days before Glastonbury Festival begins and there are several TBC slots on the line up. For me 2+2=4 so I recon that Jack White and The Dead Weather will be making and appearance.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to analogue photography

If you've read my blog before you'll know that I love my Lomo Cameras. The cool thing about them is that they are analogue i.e. they aren't digital cameras they use good old fashioned 35mm film. This means that I have to get them processed in the old way with chemicals and everything.

This way of processing photographs has been around for nearly 100 years. But very quickly its become a niche service. Companies who until recently only charged a few pounds for processing and capturing on CD suddenly doubled their prices.

I used to take my films to ASDA nice and cheap and decent quality processing too but then the price shot up from £2.50 per film to £4.00 shocked and skint I decided to look else where.

So I tried Max Speilman, they seemed to know what they were doing, they've been around for years. Unfortunately they don't have a clue, my film was badly processed, so much so that you can see their finger prints allover the scans. Then the prints where scanned badly so that the images ended up on the wrong prints. Never, ever using them again.

Then I tried Snappy Snaps, cool name (they even sell Lomo Cameras). The processing is great but the price is a bit steep too. £5.99 per film! When I went to collect my pictures today instead of £11.98 they tried to charge me over £17 as they said that the person who'd taken my order had forgotten to charge me for the CD's. £17 for 48 pictures is just crazy so I complained and they dropped the CD charge.

What I'm getting at is that I understand that film processing is dying out due to digital cameras but there is a massive surge towards people still wanting analogue photography. The number of people who are members of Lomography measures several million on it's own. This means that there's still a massive demand for film processing.

I just need to find somewhere that will do my processing for a decent cost at a decent standard. If you know anywhere please let me know. And if they're any good I'll tell all my friends and they use it too. This good service will make a lot of money because the niche who need it are on the look-out for it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Do I need a website anymore?

Once upon a time if you had a business you had to have your own website.

It took ages to write copy, mainly because you'd never done it before and when you read it back it sounded really dumb. You had to find a designer, who always looked about 12 and baffled you with tech jargon and produced an expensive flash website no one could find, but hey it looked amazing!

Well I was just thinking,why on earth do you need a website any more? The Internet is full to bursting of free tools for websites and blogs, social networking, photography hosting sites, e-commerce sites. Loads and loads and loads of stuff just laying around for free.

All this stuck together must be able to make your presence on the Internet, easy and fulfilling plus making it blindingly easy to find. I'm not techie, but I've heard of using the 'Cloud' i.e. having everything floating on the web and I honestly can't see why it shouldn't be able to work it's just a bunch of links at the end of the day.

I'm sure I'm re-inventing the wheel because this is so blindingly obvious that someone far cleverer than me must be already doing this. Regardless I'm going to try and see if I can get this off the ground if only for my own amusement.

Anyone willing to help, drop me an email. Even if it just to laugh at me for not already knowing all about it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Shuttleworth and Yorkshire Tea match made in heaven

I love John Shuttleworth so I'm really pleased that he's back on TV all be it in a TV ad from Yorkshire Tea. His comedy is just perfect for it and the really great thing is that there's been no compromise in his style or act, Ken and Mary are there as is the Jacket, roll neck and glasses.

Jarvis wins over Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury 2009

I'm going to Glastonbury at the end of the month, did I mention it?

Anyway recently I posted about which acts to see at this year's Glastonbury Festival.

I was torn on Saturday night the big headliner is Bruce Springsteen, now I'm not a fan of the Boss never have been, nothing against the man just not my cup of tea. But Springsteen at Glastonbury would be quite an event one probably never to be repeated. So I was going to go.

But then over on the John Peel stage, I think, Jarvis Cocker is headlining up against Bruce. I'm from Sheffield, like Jarvis so my loyalty was tested. Any way I just got Jarvis' CD 'Further Complications' which is great I've listed to it five times already. It's so varied and interesting, pure Jarvis.

So that's it Bruce I'm sure you'll put on a great show but I'm sticking with Sheffield, I'm sticking with Jarvis.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amazing 2012 Olympic posters which will never be used

Just found these amazing posters over on Creative Review. It's such a shame they'll never see the light of day at the 2012 Olympics. The diving one above is my favourite.

Further job losses at Grattan

I posted a while back about job loses at Grattan in Bradford, and today they have announced another 160 losses with clothing sourcing moving to Germany. It's a sad day but not that much of a surprise.

On a good note ASDA have announced the possibility of 375 new jobs if planning permission goes through for a new store in Leeds.

The figures on the news will only tell you about the job losses, but keep looking at you'll see glimmers of a recovery. It's small and very slow at the moment but it's coming.

Who and what to see at Glastonbury 2009

I'm really excited about the Glastonbury Festival 2009. This year will be my 4th time. The line up looked a bit ropey at first but if you look a little further there are some gems hidden in there.

But even if the line-up's not what you wanted don't worry Glastonbury is less about the acts and more about the experience. I really don't care if it rains or it's baking hot weather conditions all add to the weekend and enhance your memories when you leave.

For my ten pence worth these are the bands you should try and see. If none take your fancy there's so much more to do in the fringe areas like Shangrila.

Here's my list of the acts to see at this year's Glastonbury
  • The Specials
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Bjorn Again
  • Doves
  • Jamie T
  • The Streets
  • Rolf Harris
  • Noah and the Whale
  • Kasbian
  • Spinal Tap
  • Jarvis Cocker
  • Rolf Harris (again)
  • Tindersticks
  • The Wonderstuff
  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • Blur
  • Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
  • Madness
  • Tom Jones
  • Tony Christie
  • The Prodigy
  • Glasvegas
  • Bat For Lashes
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Georgie Fame
  • Magic Numbers
  • Gong
You can't see all these unfortunately as some of them clash. But sometimes it's better to miss stuff just because you were spending time wandering around the site soaking up the atmosphere.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just what is it that you want to do?

We wanna a be free, free to do what we wanna do. We wanna get loaded!

I don't want to get loaded what ever that is (I'm sure everyone has their own way). But what I want to do, I don't know. Like most people I stumble through life lurching from one thing to another. Sure making some great and terrible decisions which take moment's of clarity and out of those I've done well, chosen the right career, a great place to work. I've got a very loving family and three amazing children who I love more than the world. My girlfriend is clever and very beautiful and I'm a very lucky person.

This week I had a tragedy in my family, I won't go into it here. What this has made me do is stand back and ask myself just what's important. Life's too short to have regrets or miss opportunities or not create opportunities. Its possible that you wake up one morning and do all the normal things you do every day and then life just stops.

There's no second chance, one last phone call, just one more email, 10 more minutes with the kids. Life is so precious you really, really must make the most of it because one day you'll blink and it's gone.

I've just read a very inspiring post on Chris Garrett's blog. Chris asks you what do you do that's just like breathing? What comes naturally to you for work or pleasure. Take some time to read it, its inspired me I hope it does you too.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Clear out therapy

I admit it I'm a hoarder. I keep loads of stuff I should get rid of it clutters my house and so clutters my life. Well last night I decided to de-clutter!

I went through all my clothes including my socks, any which didn't have a pair have gone in the bin, not more odd socks for me or mornings of frustration just lumping for an odd pair. out also went the odd cufflinks you know the ones I'd been holding on to for years in the vain hope the other on would turn up, it never did.

I moved around the furniture too, made loads more space - why did I not do it sooner!

Today's advice de-clutter and take your spare stuff to the skip, or if its good enough to the charity shop.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just what is twitter anyway?

Twitter is the buzz word of the moment, its the big new thing that's going to change all the rules or so they say. Don't get me wrong I love Twitter and everything it stands for, no ads (yet) and freedom to post what you like (for the time being).

But there seems a fashion for just dropping Twitter into a conversation because its a new word. Although in Sheffield, my home city, its been used for years to describe 'to witter', which to be honest is a pretty good description of what most people do on it!

The question most asked is 'Just what is Twitter anyway' followed shortly by 'I just don't get it'.

My take on it is this: Twitter is no new thing, it's just a new website which is a really easy way to communicate with people and spread ideas. People are very used to texting, which means for most people that you keep your messages short and to the point, Twitter forces you to do that by restricting your message to 140 characters, including spaces.

So you use Twitter like any other communication tool, make sure your messages make sense, are polite and to the point.

As to who you follow, well that up to you. If you just want to follow your friends great, if you want to follow Stephen Fry (everybody does) that's fine too. Who follows you well that's up to you as well. Like any online community there are plenty of spammers and plenty of people just wanting to collect followers but ultimately if you don't want them to follow you then you can block them of if your such a private person then you can allow only certain people to follow you.

Really Twitter is no big deal, its definitely nothing to be scared of, in fact I think its a lot of fun and has loads of really great uses. Best way to to find out 'just what Twitter is' is to sign up and see for yourself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Be better not bigger

The reason lots of the larger household names have gone under recently (in my view) is that they lost their way completely. If you asked anyone what Woolworths was for they couldn't tell you and neither could Woolworths. They just had loads of stores and no idea what they were doing with them.

They concentrated all their effort on being bigger and forgotten to be special. What Woolies ended up doing was selling a bit of everything and ended up selling nothing at all.

If you running a company and you're worried about the future, then concentrate on the customers you have any giving them amazing service and products. Don't go trying to be the biggest in the market, it'll rarely work.

Here's Seth Godin's sage advice on being better not bigger.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Please stop spamming comments

I love comments on my posts, I don't get many so I get excited when I see I need to moderate them before they are published.

I started moderation after I got spam comments and I still moderate. So please don't get my hopes up only to annoy me and waste your time if the comment is spam I'll delete it. If its genuine I'll happily publish regardless if you agree, disagree or think I'm an idiot.

Winning the Chips War

I've just returned from Wales with my children. As you can imagine on holiday all kids want to eat is fish and chips, ask most kids and it's their first and last answer. Walking around Tenby it got to that time when they start pulling on your leg wanting something to eat.

Tenby is a beautiful seaside town and is full of restaurants. However they all seemed to omit Fish and Chips from the menu and my kids insisted on fish and chips.

The first place I found watched me struggle in with three kids and a buggy, sit down find a baby seat and ask my what the kids wanted while the staff all stood around and waited. I went to the counter to order and was told in a very bored way that the "friar is broken we can't do anything other than cold sandwiches" it wasn't their fault to be fair but they could have intercepted me, offered 1/2 price sandwiches or a million and one other things, Tenby was packed and it was lunch, we left and struggled back through the door.

After a short walk we found a chip shop which looked open but didn't look ready to serve. My little boy was getting really hungry at this point and asked the shop owner "are you open?". The man said that they'd be open in a few minutes as they were waiting for staff. This is at 11.55, so 5 minutes to dinner time.

I thought about waiting but then spotted another shop around the corner. This was open, had a working friar, friendly staff, spare tables chairs and high chairs, was easy to get in and out of.

We sat down and a waiter took our order, they took notice that I'd a baby with me and gave me a spare plate to put his food on. They served quickly and the food was hot as well as delicious. While we ate I spotted that they had won awards for their fish and chips over several years didn't take much to see why.

On the whole the last shop didn't do that much more, I'm sure all the other place's food was just as good, but they let me down before they'd started.

I think the point is that when times are hard and choice is wide and almost endless businesses have to go a little further. Just sitting back isn't good enough any more as some of the bigger businesses have found to their cost. If you want to succeed then make the effort you'll be rewarded.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Very excited got a picture on the BBC

I found this a few days ago and was excited and maybe a bit embarrased.

A few months ago I sent in one of my photographs to the BBC, they asked for images of curves and as I'd taken some a while back I thought I'd have a pop. Well blow mw down if they didn't use it!

The shot was taken in my back garden with the help of my friend. Basically it's a piece of wood which had been in the fire. My friend waved it and I took the shot. There wasn't any digital messing about with it this is exactly what the camera took.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A truly beautiful website

I just found the Original Source website via an awards nomination. For me this is a truly beautiful site which sets the tone for sites based solely on design and experience. This would be rubbish for Search Engine Optimisation but that's not the point.

Odd or Genius I can't tell

Yesterday I bought Stuart Maconie's book Pie's and Prejudice. It's a really great book already only on page 46.

When I bought the book in Adsa, the odd thing was that the book was in the Cookery section. Now as far as I can see Stuart hasn't put any recipes in the book it's more of an explanation of what makes the north the north, which is why it appeals to me.

All I can think is that whoever placed the book in the cookery section either just saw the word Pie on the cover and made an assumption or it's a work of pure genius lateral thinking.

I'm hoping its genius.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gmail ads

The ads on my Gmail account can be very very funny.

Just got this one no idea how it connected to my email content but never mind.

Professional Mole Catcher - - Mole Control, Domestic & Commercial No Mole - No Fee.

To the point and utterly brilliant if I lived in Essex and I had a mole problem I'd be straight on to this guy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Badmovieclub and Graham Linehan break Twitter!

Last night was the first and who knows last Bad Movie Club on Twitter. Maybe this was becasue it was Friday 13th or maybe becasue it was such an insane and easy idea.

Everyone watch the same bad film at the same time and give a running commentary
on Twitter

Well here are the numbers

  • On 13th Feb 2009, around 2000 people watched the same ‘bad’ film at exactly the same time and shared their collective ‘disappointment’ via Twitter.
    40,000 individual comments were sent and tracked ‘live’ by the film’s audience.
    A total of around 80,000,000 ‘Tweets’ were therefore viewed in just 2hrs 40mins. To generate this much Twitter traffic, both Barack Obama & Stephen Fry would each have to sustain posting 68.4 Tweets an hour ‘at the same time’... on Friday they collectively averaged 1.7 per hour.

Friday, February 13, 2009

#badmovieclub on Twitter

Twitter is being used in the most imaginative ways. Just found Graham Linehan on Twitter @Glinner had he's running an experiment with the Bad Movie Club. Tonight at 9pm the club are watching M. Knight Shayamalan’s ‘The Happening’, which I paid to see in the cinema and I can tell you it really sucks.

Anyway the point is that all the members are watching the movie at the same time and tweeting their thoughts on this truly dreadful film. A great experiment and a good laugh to as well.

I don't see how this kind of collective event could have been managed without the use of Twitter. People all around the world are now using the Internet as it was envisage, well at least this far.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Amazing Light Graffiti

Just found this amazing light graffiti on the Guardian Website. It's all done using long exposures and light pens. No photoshop cheating!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh god someone at Sony is gonna hit the roof!

The Onion have made this really, really funny spoof story on Sony's products. It's bound to come under a litigation soon so make sure you watch it before it is removed from the web.

Utterly brilliant!

Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work

Make sure you stay as an imposter

I often wonder how I get through stuff. Sure I know lots of things but I'm always learning, I like to think I'm an expert, but don't they know everything?

This post about staying an imposter shows that you shouldn't be scared to feel like a fraud, you're always learning and that's the whole point.

Hey it made me feel better!

The Mad Men are getting clever on Twitter

Yesterday I Twitted a story from the BBC about how the series Mad Men is influencing fashion.

Very quickly after posting this I got two new followers Peggy Olson and Betty Draper both characters from the show.

Betty Draper has a blog Welcome to the Drapers which showcases life for an American housewife in the early 60's complete with recipes and hits for around the house. All perfectly put together to show the underlying stresses Betty is under in the series.

Peggy Olson has a LinkedIn site which states her experience as:

Peggy Olson’s Experience
Sterling Cooper
(Marketing and
Advertising industry)
1961 — Present (48 years)
I've worked on print and broadcast campaigns for clients such as Belle Jolie, Clearasil, Samsonite, Right Guard, Mohawk Airlines, Martinson's Coffee, and Playtex. I'm eager to learn and do all I can to improve my skills. I hope to be a creative director some day, but I know I have a lot to learn first.

This is such as perfect way to promote a series all about Ad men in the 60's by using modern methods.

Only question is what would the ad men of Sterling Cooper do with a smoking a drinking ban in the work place?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Computer Tan

A colleague has just shown me Computer Tan. This is a great viral website with a very serious message.

The site is amazingly believable and the production is exquisite. It's been produced by Mcann Erikson and has already duped over 30,000 people into believing they can get a tan from their computer screen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

PR on a budget

Here are my 8 tips for getting PR on a budget
  1. Get some good, interesting pictures
    Journalists love good, interesting photos always help you getting in the publication. Always supply hi-res, colour, pictures. But don't email then unless specifically asked, they'll jam up their email and you annoy the journalist.

  2. Write a brief company history
    The journalist needs to know who you are and why you should have space in their publication. They need to look good to their editors, make sure you play to that by giving them something interesting

  3. Read your relevant press
    Sounds obvious, but a little research into the right journalist will pay off

  4. Contact the journalist
    Again obvious but make contact. Don't email, phone just before lunch is best. Most journalist don't do early mornings and after lunch is getting close to deadline you'll just annoy them.

  5. Arrange a personal meeting
    If at all possible go and see the journalist. Take them for lunch, it'll give you a good chance to tell them all about your company. Plus they'll get to know you personally. When you meet them make sure you have things ready for them to take away a CD with your great hi-red pictures on, your company history, your latest press releases. Make it easy for them.

  6. Follow it up
    After your meeting, write a personal note to thank them for their time. Don't just wade in with a release, see next point.

  7. Only contact with relevant stories
    Journalists have their own interests, you'll know this you did your research (see point 3). So don't start sending them everything you produce, make sure you only send them relevant stories they are likely to want to run. And ensure your release has an image to go along with it, if requested. One way to get a picture over with out blocking up email is to send over a low-res version with the offer of the print quality one should they want it.

  8. Always say thank you

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Designer's Repulic closes it doors

Just checked my email and I truly gutted that Designer's Republic has closed. Growing up in Sheffield it was difficult to miss their influence. From nightclub flyers, I still have my full set of flyers from the opening of Republic nightclub. To the covers of Pulp records, Designers Republic was the place to work for a creative, just wish I'd been good enough.

Goodbye Designers Republic

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Giving a great presentation via the web

In today's world thinking about the environment and your carbon footprint is very important. That's why it's a great idea to use web presentations when you really don't have to make the journey to see your customers. If you get it right, giving presentations via the Internet can be far more fulfilling than you may think.

Here are my tips to ensure you give good presentation

Presenting via the web has it's own issues. Most notably that you're not there in person. Here are a few tips to help you out if you do that same as we do.

Your PowerPoint presentation
  • Keep it simple and to the point
  • Avoid bullet pointed lists that you're going to read out to them. Save yourself and them the time and just send them the document so they can read it themselves.
  • Be passionate

Your desktop

  • Make sure your desktop is as clear as possible. If for any reason you have to click on it you don’t want customers to see other customer’s files or clutter on the screen.
  • Ensure you have your company wallpaper on your screen. It's easy to do and look so much more professional than a picture of your favourite car or your wedding day, or your cat (however cute)

Your Customer

  • Your customer may have a different screen resolution to you. Make sure they can see what you can before you start your presentation. You don’t want a customer to miss something at the edge of your screen. You can do this by moving your mouse from corner to corner of your screen and asking if they can see it moving.

I'm sure there are loads more tips, but getting these few basics right can make a huge difference.

Over on Presentation Zen you'll find loads and loads of information about putting together presentations which work.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 great little idea

Just found this site which creates an Obamicon of any picture you like. Above is my little effort.

A nice little viral idea which is spreading quickly and rightly so. Thanks to Dave Gorman's Blog which is where I found it

Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodnight Tony Hart

Like a lot of people my age I grew up watching too much TV. One of my favourite shows was Take Hart, presented by the best art teacher you could ever want Tony Hart.

Tony Hart had a gentle way of showing you things you never thought could be possible. We would take old bits and pieces and show you that you too could create anything you wanted. To a kid living on a council estate in Sheffield this was near to revolution.

Tony Hart probably more than anything I've ever seen on TV inspired me, and thinking about it now still does. It's a really sad day to hear that he has died.

In a very short space of time the country has lost two truly great inspirational people Tony Hart and Oliver Postgate. I think its time that something was done to celebrate these two truly amazing people who inspired generations to think that anything was possible.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Compare the Meerkat

The guys at Compare the Market are very brave and clever. If you've ever been on their site to look for financial services or the whole host of things they offer, you'll know that they are very good at giving you a great service that saves you cash and time.

But I guess for them and you probably its pretty dull stuff, I mean just how excited can you get about it, not very is my guess.

Which is shy their Compare the Meerkat campaign is go good. My first glimpse of the campaign was the spoof email I got from Aleksandr the annoyed Meerkat running his site which is losing visitors to The great thing is that its done with total conviction, no giveaway that its really from compare the market. The team there have given their customers the benefit of having a sense of humour and not had to explain the joke to them. When you click through the email you get a fully functioning website, which delivers a way to actually compare Meerkats, to tricks or gimmicks shoved in the way.
Here's the TV ad too, which completes the whole set.

On top of that there's even a FaceBook group for compare the Meerkat which already had 17,000 members. All this results in a fantastically executed campaign which has great viral qualities and makes what could have been a very conservative campaign work very, very well.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

At home with Eric Clapton

Stop worrying and enjoy life

Just found this over on Dave Gorman's Blog. Bus ads for Atheism. About time all us non believers had a voice!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Truly the worst ad ever made

I've just seen what is truly the worst TV ad ever made. It's for a piece of software from Microsoft for singing with your laptop. Now not only is that a really crap product, yes another one from Microsoft, but the song the little girl sings will make you want to throw-up in seconds. The direction is awful, the script terrible, the acting appalling generally there aren't enough words to describe strongly enough just how bad this ad is.

I'm almost ashamed to post it here but without doing that you'll not understand just how excruciatingly bad this ad is.

Now before you watch it you have been warned - have a bucket ready. Click play at your own peril (this is not a "joke" video, this is Microsoft video).

To see a great ad take a look at this recent Virgin ad, now that's how to make TV

Thursday, January 15, 2009

News at 10 spin the figures

Just watched News at 10 and they announced with a fantastic set of graphics that there were over 7,000 job losses announced this week alone. Which is terrible news and was rightly reported as a main item. And they did use a very striking graphic to ram the figures home.

Thing was that once the figure had been taken off the screen they then announced that 15000 jobs would be created by the major supermarkets.

Now call me cynical but isn't that a net gain of 8,000 jobs? Why on earth didn't the graphic come back on and then move the other way?

Clearly we're not ready for good news stories yet.

Twitter is really changing the world

Twitter and social media in general are changing the world - no really!

A guy using the ferry in New York posted some of the first pictures of the plane crash from his iPhone on Twitter within minutes of the incident.

This just would not have been possible even in the last two years. The news flashed around the world literally in seconds.

If anyone doubts the power that the Internet and social media have given the world now then they really are crazy. The world has changed, soon there will be two sets of people those on the inside and those outside.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grattan announces job cuts in the UK

It's a sad day today as Grattan the giant of the British mail order companies announces job cuts.

Especially sad for me because I used to work in the Bradford office on the customer retention team. Grattan is an amazing place for anyone in marketing to hotbed their skills. You learn so much at such a quick pace a, because you have to and b, because there is an enormous wealth of skill and knowledge in the teams over there.

Thinking back there are people working at Grattan who had been there 30 years when I left around 4 years ago.

And maybe that is there downfall as well as their strength. Grattan and the associated brands, Freemans, Look Again etc where jut too big a ship to turn around.

It's odd when you think about it because mail order is the way that business is now going. Every company with a website takes orders online and delivers direct to your door just like Grattan has for over 100 odd years.

The problem is that their model for mail order, or the "Club Book" as it was know on my street when I was little, is based on people not being able to get credit. So one person in the area would be the agent for the Club Book and customers would pay that person in small weekly installments. The agent in return gets a commission.

All was well for Grattan until the advent of the credit card, then suddenly there's no need to get credit form the agent anymore.

This did so much damage to the traditional mail order companies like Grattan because their entire business model was built on having this credit system which they handled.

Even more of an irony now is that due to the credit crunch, the Grattan model should in theory be perfect again as people can't get the credit they could in the recent boom.

Unfortunately it would seem its too late for Grattan and that's a big shame.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Twittersphere here we come

Hey I'm getting advanced now. I've decided that just using Twitter via Twitter is so last week, so I've jut downloaded TweetDeck which seems to be the platform of choice at the moment. I'll let you know how I get on.

Bringing all your sites together

Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, I don't know. I'm only just realising that you can tie all your sites together.

Since I posted on being able to have my blog content appear in FaceBook and Linkedin I've now just found that I can also syndicate it to Flickr as well. So needless to say I did it.

Here's a link to the Flickr Account, let me know what you think to the pictures.

Great Twitter Tool

As A new user of Twitter, I was a bit lost on how to see how effective it was. Just found this great tool, after following a Twitter post.

Twitter Friends allows you to see all your twitter stats at a glance and even compare it to other twits (not sure that's the right term)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Lomo LCA has arrived!

I'm very excited!

Yesterday my Lomo LCA arrived. With trepidation I opened the package to discover it. I got it off ebay so didn't get the whole lomo packaging, box and books etc which is a shame. However there's a recession on and buying it second hand meant I saved a few hundred quid.

Also as it's not new it means that its not one of the newly made LCAs from China. This is one of the old Russian ones. It even says Made in the USSR on the shutter cover.

I'm off out today to take my first two rolls of film, I'll post on how I get along.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Spreading your blog content around the web

If you are like me, and I'm sure you are or you wouldn't be reading this, you'll be on various Social Media websites my main ones are Twitter, FaceBook and Linkedin.

Did you know that you can easily syndicate your blog content to FaceBook and Linkedin? I didn't until recently.

To add it on FaceBook just nip to the notes application and point it at your blog. On Lined in add the Blog application and it'll automatically add your blog and all your connections blogs as well.

Then hey presto! All your blog entries will be automatically added to your profile as you post them increasing the scope of your readership instantly.

By the way the one caveat is that no matter where your blog is syndicated the content still had to be worth reading.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Blimey its Benny Hill

I was just watching BBC4, and saw one of the first colour series ever recorded by the BBC. In this particular twee episode the poshest lady I've ever heard presents a 20 minute show on Fashion. While not a hottest subject, it was great background viewing.

About half way through a little section on moustaches caught my eye. As the posh lady talked, Benny Hill and two other men from the the Benny Hill show are shown spotting bizarre face furniture. Totally priceless, Benny Hill can't help that little look from under his eyebrows.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Four Twitter Tips

I joined Twitter just before Christmas. It's very odd at first but soon becomes pretty addictive.

Since I began to use it my Blog visits have gone up a huge amount which pleases me no end. It's tough to get hold of an idea what the etiquette is yet. But here are my thoughts:

  1. Referencing your own blog entries is fine as long as you don't over do it. The whole point is to spread the love not blow just blow your own trumpet.
  2. Saying nothing in particular some of the time is fine. There's only 140 characters so saying nothing on Twitter is fine too. Is this why the name is so close to witter? Sorry I realise that I'm wittering on myself now.
  3. Following celebrities is fine, then encourage it. Just be warned that they can be just as boring as the rest of us when they only have a few words.
  4. Butting in on someone else's Tweets is a bit rude, but can be very tempting. If you are going to do this make sure you give a good answer.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Learn from Geece

Sorry lots of video clips on the blog at the minute, but hey that's how it is.

Here's a great video from Satchi and Satchi about team work. Very nice.

David Ogilvy speaks from the past about the future

I just found this video of a film David Ogilvy sent to a conference years ago. The film is very old which adds a huge amount of gravitas to the message. What Ogilvy, the pioneer of Direct Marketing says is still true today, even more so with the dawn of the Internet.

If your marketing is meant to sell products then forget clever creative, flowery copy, cryptic text. Sell the product or service, ask for the response - making it easy to do so. Measuring marketing spend has never been easier than with the Internet, even more so than it is with Direct Mail. Testing is quicker and easier and the results can be in almost instantly.

Take the time to watch David Ogilvy as he talks to you from the past and see how you can apply this to how you are marketing today.

Best Practices for Content Optimisation

Apart for the American spelling I love SEOMoz. Rand has just posted a great article on Best Practices for Content Optimization. His spelling not mine.

It is very detailed and quite techie but the overriding theme is that there is no short cut to getting good ranking. Unique content and a usable site are the only way to get there.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Now that's a great TV Ad

Tongue in cheek, cocky, right on the money, well done, perfect branding, funny, memorable, leaves you with a smile. Need to fly over the Atlantic, lets fly with Virgin - Brilliant!

That's how you use TV, Norwich Union (soon to be Aviva) please take note

Saturday, January 03, 2009

How to waste money and piss people off in 1 minute

How stupid are the people at Norwich Union? Let's set the scene: There's a global recession, particularly in the finacial sector. People are losing thier jobs left, right and centre. What should a financial institution do in this scenario?

I know lets pay a ridiculous amount of cash to Hollywood stars, models, aged "Rock Stars" (Alice Copper and Ringo Starr) to tell everyone that where changing the name of our company from Norwich Union to Aviva! That'll be a great idea, we all saved!

Sorry wrong time wrong planet! (sorry for all the exclamation marks)

Wouldn't a better idea to be to use all that money to improve their service, improve conditions and job security for their staff. Reduce the cost of their insurance for the hard pressed population. Hey I think that would be much more effective.

Lets run that scenario: Letter drops through door "Oh Marjorie, you'll never guess what Norwich Union have suddenly drop the cost of our premium by £5 a month and we get exactly the same cover. Aren't they amazing, they also say that if we tell all our friends and they join then they'll give us even more and all our friends will get reduced premiums too!"

Of course it will never happen because the head of Norwich Union (soon to be Aviva) wouldn't get the chance to meet Film stars, Models and Ringo bloody Starr!

Here's the ad, what it and chunder. Nice production values mind

Friday, January 02, 2009

Twitter changing the world

At last the old firms are engaging in face to face marketing using Twitter. Giving direct answers is a big deal for the big companies who love to hide behind carefully crafted press releases, well now they are actively engaging and reaping the rewards

The Financial Times reports how they're doing it

I'm using twitter now myself and 140 words is tough but its getting easier plus its very quick on responses.

Looking for little glimmers

Just found this amazing picture on the Guardian website by Sarah Moon. The chances of getting this picture are ridiculously small but that the beauty of photography. To catch the moment perfectly because it can't ever be repeated.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Seth Godin inspires me

Just getting ready to go back to work. No one knows what 2009 will through at them but one thing is for sure if you sit back and let stuff happen to you you can't complain if its not what you want.

Why not take hold of the opportunity the uncertainty is bringing to everyone else and make 2009 a great start. Seth's post has just inspired me to do just that I hope it does the same for you too.

Happy New Year