He looks down at me from the carriage.”Good evening, madam” he says with a strongly accented English. The deep blue door gleams like a mirror, his hand steadying me on the steep steps. I straighten my skirt hems and pull off my gloves. I’ve arrived at the summit! The corridor has the ambiance of a hotel foyer, shining reflections in the mahogany, deep pile soft beneath my soles. A whistle sounds and there’s the slow beat of a distant locomotive, the tangy smell of a station drifting in the air. I notice that the steward’s waving a white-gloved hand to me from further down. The brass handrails bright against the line of dark windows running along the side.
The aroma of filter coffee fills the sunlit kitchen. I sit with Steve and Barry at the old wooden table. They’re talking about the All Blacks match at Twickenham this afternoon. And they’ve got tickets. And what’s going through my mind? I want to buy a book down at Blackwell’s on the High street. A scraping of chairs and they’re off. The coffee cups left for your’s truly.
I clear the cups, put them on the drainer for later. Wipe the table and rinse the flask of the coffee filter before putting it back in the machine. The kitchen darkens as a cloud passes over and gets momentarily colder.
Coat, handbag and keys. I’m not good in the morning anyway. My bike chain clanks as it falls from its moorings around the garden railings. Lock it onto my bike and wipe the seat clean of raindrops.
Heading downstairs to grab a coffee when a parcel flops onto the doormat in the front hall. The chipped white paint and the grotty carpet of bedsit land. Never mind, it’s Brighton. I’m by the sea and it’s a summer Saturday. The soft parcel’s label has that logo in the corner. Wohoo! It’s my teeshirt!
Tearing open the large paper envelope in the airy back kitchen. There’s just enough room for my mug on the countertop in among the jars, pans and pizzas. The kettle sings. A teaspoon of coffee, three sugars and pour on the water. It smells dull and fudgy.
I take a sip. Why do we drink this stuff?
We walk down a tree lined lane in the early evening. The dandelions and grass drape the side of the sun dappled path. We walk slowly, enjoying the quiet now that the traffic on the nearby motorway has dispersed after the evening rush.
Before us now is a neatly mown grassy driveway, and to the right some fenced in vegetable gardens. To the other side, to the left is a less organized vegetable patch. The curved edge is defined by small pieces of paving slab neatly laid on top of each other.
A tin watering can is left by the cabbages, appearing here and there in amongst the weeds. I let the fat hen grow out as it’s an early spinach and quite as tasty. There are rows of potatoes, parsnips and the bright crimson flowers of the beans. Some plants form straight rows, some following the meandering paths. Nature does not form rectangular boundaries, and I see no reason to impose them.
An office this is not. Yet it is here that my most important work is done. There is no internet or even piped water! My day is writing and I’m all up. Cups of coffee won’t work now, and there is only one thing to do. Get out and enjoy the gentle rain and soft greens. Run my hands through the soft soil that lies just down the lane.
The peaceful song of the robin and the blackbird lets me relax and listen. Listen to the unfocussed thoughts that drift to and fro in a mind as quiet as Zen. Bringing them to paper later is easy. All you do is re-live the pictures in your memory and write about it.
So if you like copy that draws your visitor into your world, then I’m your girl. It’ll lead them quietly into the gates of your business. Their delight in finding the thing they truly need will overpower them. You need do little more but let them know what to do about it.
They won’t need asking twice.
So if you like this, let me know. I can match your style and your demeanour. For the first time in their lives your customers will have read an advertisement that’s better than the blog it accompanied.
A quiet email is all it needs to get in touch with me trough my contact page, below. If the reply isn’t fast it means I’m somewhere else. Only where that is, is my secret.
Caught In Madison Avenue’s Cross Hairs.
Your Special Something
Bilal sells laser toners.
Only what Bilal doesn’t know is that there are people who eat guys like him as a tasty snack. They have long experience in giving him one thing and one thing only. And that is exactly what he wants to hear. It has nothing to do with sales, advertising or customers. It’s all to do with what Bilal thinks will work. He’ll be so drugged, he won’t even feel the sides of the gullet that’s swallowed him whole.
The advertising suit from Madison Avenue will come along and will have sized you up as his mark long before you’ve even sat down. The master poker player, he’s got a straight flush and you’ve got two jacks. He knows all the tricks to wheedle everything he needs from you. He’ll schmooze you and wooze you until you’re so confident that the things he’s telling you are just so right. You sign on the dotted line.
And all he’s told you is exactly what you want to hear. Nothing more, nothing less.
He goes home laughing, you go home poorer. You think you’ve won, and he knows he’s won. There’s a difference between thinking and knowing. One’s the winner and one’s the loser. I know how these things are done, and that’s why I don’t do them. That’s why there’s a very good chance you won’t like me. That’s just fine by me, I’d rather start out with you knowing that, okay?
Because I’ve just spent an hour trying to convince Bilal that he’s got the wrong end of the stick. He wants to know how much cheaper he should be to get sales. If that’s not the wrong end of the stick, I’m in the wrong business. He gives me all the useless details of his product that only make it less interesting. Because I don’t care about the fiddly niggles of powders and free servicing. I want to know what makes Bilal’s business stand out.
Because that’s what’ll sell. Shift palletloads of toners.
Why Gary Fetches Beers During The Commercials.
All those commercials are talking to Bilal and not Gary who’s just about to walk into the kitchen. Who’s buying? Bilal or Gary? Cos Gary’s grabbing beers while the TV drones and the colours splash across the carpet. If it’s Gary you’re speaking to, he’s not there.
If you want to make a difference, you have to speak to his back.
And that’s where I come in. I have the inventiveness to make advertisements that get Margie to shout out “Gary! come and see this! It’s better than the sitcom!” I didn’t say I’d done it, I said that I can. Whether it’s short snappy taglines or coloured skirts floating on a washingline in Havana, I can grab their attention. What’s more I’ll do it in a way that they’ll enjoy.
I don’t give two hoots if you don’t like them. I don’t care if I don’t. Because this isn’t about me and it isn’t about you. It’s about the people who buy the stuff you sell. You don’t buy it and neither do I. Or at least in the quantities you need to sell to keep your business afloat.
Slicing Into A Commodity Market.
Laser toners are one of the real commodity products on the face of this planet. They have to be the same and they have to perform adequately – otherwise they simply don’t work! That’s when they get sent back! That’s not how to do business! Yet it seems to be the business model of choice out there right now. And Bangladeshis are trapped in collapsed buildings because some owner was trying to cut costs (which means cutting corners).
So let’s get real. Let’s sell to your strengths. Sure, they’re small and they’re insignificant. That’s not the point. This is the counterpoint to my other piece that I wrote this evening. It doesn’t matter how small it is, it matters how different it is. It means practically nothing in every-day terms. Yet it means all the difference to the people who really want the things that you do. The things you do every fucking day, day in and day out. Those boring things you rarely take any notice of because they’re so ordinary.
Yet to your best customers, it’s that one thing they come back for more of.
Because I don’t get bogged down with advertising methodologies. My laser targeted insights sear down to the core of your business, and I work everything out from that. And believe me, there aren’t many who can do that. I don’t cobble strategies together and hope for the best. I take what you do best and speak to those who like it most. From there, you can do almost anything. Everything you do with it is money well spent.
You want the kind of advertisement where Gary wants to miss the cliffhanger just in case your ad’s broadcast again!
Never play poker with a Madison Avenue suit. Lose to your customers instead. It’s a lot more fun and you’ll both win.
There’s a link to my contact page. Use it. Unless your name’s Bilal, that is. I’m not a good match, okay?
Actually, don’t use my contact page link, I’ve retired. Sorry. I would like to add that this is a little upbeat for the toner market. People really are looking at price and don’t give a sh*t about service. Customers I’m afraid are becoming as bad as the advertisements they are conned by.
Frauds and their Behaviour, Part 2
How many guys can you get an honest response from? Anywhere? In your company, in your family, amongst your friends even?
I’ll bet it isn’t many.
Andrew is by the reception area in the atrium. He’s looking tired. “Andrew! Welcome back” he looks up a fear flashes across his face. He straightens up and shakes my hand firmly.
“It was, yeah, great” he says. His face looks a little wooden, his speech a little mechanical – almost as if he’s just saying this. Well, isn’t this what he’s always like? He’s always confident. “Yeah” he continues “met loads of guys, it was a real storm”. Is he ready to be questioned, he’s not had time to work out a story, has he?