5 Marketing-led Stories

You can give more or less anything a marketing slant. It’s time for more real-life marketing experiences, thoughts, theories and preoccupations. Here goes.

Content marketing bits and bobs

First, when different words mean the same thing. The English language is full of it: I can’t stand it / bear it. It’s obvious / clear. I love shoes / footwear. How do you choose which to use?
Most of the time the simplest word – common parlance – is your best choice. Sometimes it makes sense to use both rather than the same word twice in close succession, which sounds bad. At other times it’s an aesthetic thing.
Now and again a juxtaposition is ugly, clumsy or lumpy, and the aesthetic choice is the word that best rolls off the tongue. We rarely say ‘water and food’. We say ‘food and water’, which sounds smoother. Nor do we say ‘shine and rain’ – it’s ‘rain and shine’ The French do it too, in the way they use ‘la’ and ‘le’ to their most pleasing, fluid effect.

An intriguing off-the-page advert

As a commercial writer I admire a job well done, and this little advert is abeauty. It appeared in New Scientist magazine recently ands goes like this. I found it very difficult NOT to respond, even though I don’t need their services right now.
Absolutely anything achieved on your behalf
Simply anything, however seemingly impossible or difficult. Absolute discretion. Reasonable fees reflecting the task undertaken. We think outside the box, we go the extra mile. We work within the law.  

Brilliant product – 40 year old deckchairs

old striped deck chair
Following on from my post about Gola Harrier trainers, an epic product if there ever was one, here’s another big if obscure winner.
In 1975 my parents bought four aluminium framed, woven plastic deckchairs. We took the remaining two to a festival the other weekend, Love Supreme Jazz Festival at Glynde. They’re still going strong, having been sat on extensively all over Britain, by multiple bottoms, for more than four decades.
I take my hat off to these humble 1970s classics that’ve lasted through forty years’ worth of British weather, from deep snow in Stirling to epic heatwaves in the south east.  They don’t have a maker’s mark but if anyone recognises them I’d love to know so I can pass on my thanks. Praise where it’s due.

Snagged by an Amazon offer of the day

The other day I realised my old secateurs were on their last legs, not worth sharpening again. The same evening I went on Facebook and found an Amazon offer of the day shared by a gardener friend for bargain price Felco shears, the best-in-breed.
I clicked through but the offer had ended. But I bought a pair at full price anyway, because the time was right and I was in the mood.
It’s great to see marketing working as it should. And it’s interesting that my conversion involved a fellow gardener’s recommendation – exactly, I would imagine, what Amazon was intending, and proof that when direct response marketing hits the sweet spot, it’s never junk.

Online flights pain

After researching the most user-friendly online flights website, I chose the simplest interface. All was well until I got a stream of follow up emails. The language was clear enough but I spent ages trawling through four email autoresponder messages, received seconds apart, all of which looked exactly the same. WTF?
The language was clear enough but the emails were a mess – different text sizes and colours, stuffed with adverts for add-on services. Worse still, it took me half an hour to find the links (tiny, hidden things) taking me to the airline sites for online checking in and boarding passes. If I hadn’t been determined I would have ended up calling the flights site helpline and paying them to check us in and arrange our boarding passes.
All I wanted at that stage was a simple email confirming the booking and giving clear links to the boarding pass and online check-in pages. Not a hard sell sales funnel driving me to a totally unnecessary call centre interaction. That’s what I call crap marketing.

The origin of all European languages? It’s the Yamnaya

Back to words. As someone who has always been fascinated by their origin, I love the fact that a mysterious people whose existence was suspected but not proven until recently sit at the heart of every European language, including English.
The Yamnaya were cattle herders who lived in fertile river valleys on the Eurasian steppe around 5000 years ago. When they discovered the wheel they left their traditional lands and spread, becoming nomadic. And they had a clear and profound effect on Europe. Their language, dubbed proto-Indo-European, sits at the heart of every modern European tongue.
Take the word ‘name’. It comes from the Latin ‘nomen’, which gives us the French word ‘nom’ and the Spanish ‘nombre’. Fantastic. And it’s just one of a zillion amazing instances. Watch any Scandanavian Noir TV series, or the Belgian thriller Cordon, and you’ll be able to pick out all sorts of Yamnaya words, filtering through the millennia, looking or sounding similar in a host of EU languages.
There’s also genetic evidence of the Yamnaya’s existence in the shape of bones unearthed in Russia and Germany, providing tantalising evidence that they really did spread across Europe around 4500 years ago, just as plenty of archaeologists had long suspected. Well done, sciency people.

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