About John


Writing copy? Pack light

I'm in the middle of packing for a motorcycle trip. Space is at a premium, and I'm having to make hard choices about what stays at home. Take too much and the bike won't handle; but leaving my waterproofs behind, for instance, will no doubt end in one soggy, grumpy biker. So it's the hardback books that I'm sacrificing instead. Every time we set about writing copy we've got the same problem. In a Google text ad you might only have a few characters; a 50-word slot in a newsletter; half an hour in a presentation or 5,000 words in a white paper. The scale of the problem varies, but the methods for dealing with it are the same.

By |2016-06-10T16:18:57+00:00April 17th, 2011|Viewpoints|Comments Off on Writing copy? Pack light

Three ways to write better presentations

Presentations (the decks, at least) are something that most people do badly. It's become a cliché of business life: "death by PowerPoint"; boring slides, too much text, too long. But what people generally mean is that the message wasn't relevant to them, or that there was no clear argument. Often a good presenter will be able to work around even the worst set of slides. But wouldn't it be better if the slides supported the presenter?

By |2016-06-10T16:19:42+00:00April 10th, 2011|Viewpoints|3 Comments

How the cookie crumbles

Recent days have brought renewed news coverage of the amended EU e-Privacy directive, and what it means for online marketing. As usual with news about the internet and EU regulations there's been a lot of hyperbole. Here's our summary of what it could mean for you.

By |2016-05-18T10:17:45+00:00March 8th, 2011|Blogs|3 Comments

What car hire can tell us about customer loyalty

At first glance car hire, the home of ratty old Corsas and sneaky fees for mileage or petrol, is an unlikely example for customer loyalty. But I'm so loyal to one company that now I don't even bother to check their prices against competitors. That's a great position for any company to get into. And it's the three services Ps that earned my loyalty.

By |2016-05-18T10:17:52+00:00March 1st, 2011|Blogs|Comments Off on What car hire can tell us about customer loyalty

The art of giving effective feedback

Feedback is a fundamental part of the client-agency relationship, at every stage of a project. And just as in any relationship, it's when communication breaks down that you're in real trouble. Many clients turn to us in the first place precisely because they've had a communication breakdown with their incumbent agency — it happens all too frequently. Here's our advice on communicating effectively to achieve better results.

By |2016-06-10T16:22:36+00:00February 11th, 2011|Viewpoints|Comments Off on The art of giving effective feedback

How little mistakes can ruin campaigns

Royal Mail really don't get marketing. Their "Business Solutions Pack" provides a great lesson in how not to design and execute a campaign. Read our critique and make sure you don't fall into the same traps.

By |2016-05-18T10:21:10+00:00January 4th, 2011|Blogs|Comments Off on How little mistakes can ruin campaigns

Why your customer advocacy programme isn’t working

Surveys show that customer references are the most influential marketing tool around. Your customers can advocate for your business with a level of credibility that you simply can’t achieve on your own. Yet most marketing people will say that capturing customer advocacy through a reference programme is one of the hardest activities they manage.

By |2016-06-10T16:28:27+00:00December 18th, 2010|Blogs|3 Comments

Building a channel? Take it steady

When you're a small business it's tempting to try and grow as quickly as you can. If you're selling physical products, especially products that people still tend to buy in stores (instead of online), you'll be feeling doubly pressured to grow your distribution channels by taking on any new retail partners you can. Is that the right approach?

By |2016-06-10T16:29:05+00:00December 15th, 2010|Blogs|1 Comment

Handling leaks is about more than damage limitation

I've been promising myself that I wouldn't write a post about Wikileaks. But I couldn't resist drawing a simple lesson from it that marketers — or indeed anyone who works for a company, because we're all in the business of marketing — can learn.

By |2016-05-18T10:21:43+00:00December 13th, 2010|Blogs|Comments Off on Handling leaks is about more than damage limitation

What inertia means for online advertising

In the battle of big companies versus small, scale is often the decider. Big companies have vast resources to draw on. They also have vast inertia that stops them changing direction like their smaller, more agile competitors. The usual analogy is a supertanker versus a speedboat.

By |2016-05-18T10:22:02+00:00November 23rd, 2010|Blogs|1 Comment

Would your company pass the “van test”?

I've been thinking about a simple test for company taglines. I call it the "van test". The principle is simple: If you're out driving and a company employee is ahead of you in a van, could you work out what the company does, and why you'd give it business, just from the tagline on the van?

By |2016-05-18T10:22:07+00:00November 4th, 2010|Blogs|Comments Off on Would your company pass the “van test”?

“They’re boxy, but they’re good”

I passed a 96-sheet billboard the other day that got me thinking about brands. It was for the new Volvo S60 and showed a glorious picture of the curvy red sports saloon with a simple tagline, something along the lines of "meet the new boxy". The tagline makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to Volvo's square styling of yore, and in my opinion it's a sublime bit of brand-aware advertising that teaches us three great lessons.

By |2016-05-18T10:22:13+00:00October 19th, 2010|Blogs|4 Comments

Why you should avoid security theatre

When you are defining the security requirements for your site or online tool don't implement military-grade security on user accounts just because you can — it's not big and it's not clever. Focus your efforts where they will really make a difference.

By |2016-06-10T16:30:38+00:00September 6th, 2010|Blogs|Comments Off on Why you should avoid security theatre