Posts Tagged 'enthusiasm'

always learning, never failing

Learn from your mistakes and you’ll never fail.


comparing apples with apples

A few weeks back, Seth shared this interesting anecdote on his blog:

“At the farmer’s market the other day, three perfect strangers
asked me what sort of apple to buy…

People are now afraid of apples: afraid of buying the wrong kind;
of making a purchasing mistake or some sort of pie mistake.”

From a certain perspective, I understand what he’s saying: it’s widely accepted that too much choice can actually lead to ‘decision-making paralysis’.

However, there’s an alternative interpretation of Seth’s apple episode that’s equally intriguing:

Maybe the questions weren’t asked in fear.

Perhaps those three strangers struck up conversation because they were excited about this abundance of choice.

In recent years, the apples available in Western supermarkets have become commoditised: the same few varieties, in the same standard sizes, with the same bland taste.

But people who visit farmers markets tend to care deeply about their food: they’re passionate about taste, colour, texture, perfume, and about the gastronomic experience in general.

So, when they’re presented with an exciting array of new apple varieties, it seems natural that they’d want to share their excitement.

Here are some alternative reasons why people might have asked Seth a question:

Questions quickly establish rapport by engaging people in active conversation. They give the respondent a chance to share their own excitement without feeling challenged or inferior, fostering a freer exchange of information and opinions.

Each farmers’ market offers different foods and different varieties, but a good proportion of visitors tend to be regulars. Faced with a wide variety of unknown apples at a new farmers’ market, I’d seek the opinion of those around me too, because foodies love to share their passion and recommend favourites to others. Indeed, this sharing and conversation is a central part of the market experience.

The broader appeal

There’s a more general truth here that offers marketers a fascinating opportunity.

When people are passionate about something, their passion often spills over: they like to share their excitement with other people, and their own enthusiasm often extends into adjacent areas of interest.

For example, a love of wine can easily extend into passion for Scotch and Cognac.

And while it’s unlikely that we’ll ever succeed in arousing everyone’s passion for our category, those who do get passionately involved are worth a lot more.

This is because people love to indulge their passions: wine enthusiasts tend to spend a lot more on wine than ‘average’ drinkers, and they often buy a range of expensive accessories too.

Putting it in context

The trick is to understand where your brand sits in people’s world, and how it relates to their passions.

Part of this involves understanding that people can get passionate about things that we’d never expect, and as a result, even seemingly mundane brands can become highly relevant to their lives.

For example, I know many people who are passionate about their homes, and who spend hours researching new ways to make their home cleaner and fresher.

Although these people are unlikely to get excited about bleach as a category, a household cleaning brand that extends its relevance beyond simple product attributes to offer advice and solutions for the houseproud is much more likely to engage them.

As we’ve seen before, the task isn’t necessarily to become their favourite brand ever; rather, it’s about demonstrating how good your brand is in relation to everything else it competes with.

This is more about two-way engagement rather than advertising: finding more immesrsive ways to share things with them, and more importantly, helping them to share things with us and their peers.

UPDATE: Just noticed this wonderful post by Spike over at Brains on Fire – some very wise words that add an important focus to the words above:

“…many [people] are still treating people’s passion as something a company can find and then own. Find? Yes. Own? Never. Passion is not a sales transaction.

Passion is sacred. Passion is a part of a person’s life. Their soul. To find it, you have to clear away everything else. You won’t find it in a focus group that is created to talk about you and your product. You won’t find it when you do all the talking. And you won’t find it wd a tree until it falls for it.

Passion is not a commodity. It is a gift. Treat it like one.”

Go read the rest here.

where do you want to go?

logic and imagination

A fine observation from Albert Einstein, courtesy of littlemiss

orchestrating success


Marketing is similar to conducting an orchestra: our role is to bring all the different pieces of a story together into one, harmonious experience.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but this superb TED talk from Itay Talgam helped to bring those thoughts together:

Itay’s points have relevance to many areas of business, but they seem particularly pertinent to today’s world of participative brand relationships.

Let’s explore his points in a bit more depth.

Be as one

Itay begins his talk by observing that, until the conductor arrives, the orchestra is just making noise.

Some of that noise may stand out above the rest, but ultimately, the noise lacks a coherent structure.

A conductor’s role is to establish that structure:

“The conductor enables eveyone’s story to be heard at the same time.”

It’s important to remember that brands only exist in people’s minds, and their perceptions differ depending on individual experiences and context.

Some people hear different parts of our brand’s music in different ways, and those differences lead to differing perceptions and preferences.

As marketers, we need to ensure that the important instruments stand out, but also that they all come together in one, harmonious melody.

Communications should work as an ensemble

When combined effectively, a full orchestra delivers a far richer experience than any one instrument can on its own.

The same principle applies to communications channels (i.e. media): we can use the power of a ‘solo’ where appropriate, but relying too heavily on just one instrument can limit your potential.

Our task is to take the beauty and power inherent in each instrument, and weave each of them together into a rich symphony.

Audience participation is a double-edged sword

The clip Itay shows of the Viennese audience clapping along to the music is a great example of audience participation.

Rather than ‘interfering’ with the performance, their contribution adds to the ‘story’ and elevates the experience.

However, such participation would have ruined a rendition of Mozart’s Moonlight Sonata:

Where it’s relevant, audience participation can play a valuable part in the experience, but it’s critical to remember that it’s not always relevant.

Our task is to identify when it makes sense to harness participation, and then influence and guide it to ensure that it doesn’t become an unwelcome distraction.

Inspiration vs. control

Itay tells the story of the conductor at La Scala, who was forced to resign because he was overly commanding.

As Itay notes, trying to control with an iron fist removes the possibility of partnership – a loss that would have serious consequences in a world where participation is becoming increasingly important.

If we try too hard to command the conversations surrounding our brands, we risk suffocating them.

Instead, we need to shift our focus from control to guidance – as Itay suggests,

“Open a space for players to add in another layer of interpretation — their own.”

We can guide the conversation along a particular path, but we need to allow that conversation the freedom to evolve of its own accord as well.

Immerse yourself

Quite early on in his talk, Itay notes that:

“success comes from happiness”

I’ve mentioned this before: if you want to be the best at what you do, you’ve got to love doing it.

Most importantly, you’ve got to get involved.

A means vs. the end

For me, the most salient point in Itay’s talk is when he contrasts interpretation with execution.

As marketers in a social world, our role is to inspire; not to control.

That will inevitably lead to some unexpected results; sometimes, people will interpret our efforts in a way that is markedly different to what we’d intended.

However, as long as the the results are still favourable, there’s little reason to worry: there are many different routes to success, and it’s arriving at the destination that counts.

All the right notes…

I’ll conclude with a point I’ve made a few times before: success in marketing depends on them, not you.

Sometimes, even if you play all the right notes, you can’t guarantee you’ll achieve success.

Take it away Eric, Ernie, and André…

Thanks very much to John for sowing the seeds of this post in my mind, and to Inaki for introducing me to Itay’s TED talk.

maybe it’s you

maybe it's you

Neil has just shared a wonderful list of things you need to ask yourself before you’re even allowed to think about saying “my client doesn’t get it.”

His third point really struck me [I’ve changed the wording a bit for context]:

The client refuses to ‘do’ your idea, because you / they have never tried it before, and it’s unproven.

But let’s face it: the problem isn’t that the client is risk averse.

It’s just that you haven’t persuaded them that the idea’s good enough.

Or worse, they think it is a good idea, but they don’t trust you enough to do it without screwing it up.

The list summarises many questions we should ask ourselves on a daily basis.

Go read the rest of it here.

learn something new every day

wise people never stop learning

There’s always something new to discover and explore.

The best education never ends.

Inspired by a comment on yesterday’s post

feed your curiosity

rss feeds

This post follows on from the wonderful series of tips that Matt‘s been running over the past few days. It’s partly a blog guide, partly a central resource to share RSS feeds, and partly a tribute to the people who inspire me.

Until recently, finding examples of best practice was hard work.

Happily, things have changed.

Today, the real problem is keeping up with all the great resources available.

While blogrolls have become a good way to find new feeds, I thought it might be more useful to give a bit more background to the sites that I find most informative and inspirational.

The sites I’ve featured below cover a range of marketing disciplines, and inform my thinking across all aspects of the marketing mix and beyond.

Their homepages will give you a good indication of what to expect, but I highly recommend you subscribe to the RSS feeds of the ones you like.

RSS feeds bring all your favourite web content together in one place, so that you don’t need to visit hundreds of different websites. If you’re not familiar with RSS, this simple introduction will help.

To take full advantage of RSS, you’ll also need a reader – an application that keeps track of new content and brings it all together. There are many free readers available on the net; I use Google Reader, which is nice and simple.

As Matt suggests, you’d do well to set aside a few hours each week to read things like this, in addition to your prescribed degree reading. You’ll find that they keep you up to date with the most recent marketing best practice, and provide you with plenty of examples for your assignments and exam papers.

In addition to their blogs, many of these people share great thoughts and links on twitter too. Their tweets are great sources of ‘bite-size’ best practice, so make sure you check them as well. Twitter offers RSS feeds of individual accounts too, so why not add your favourites to your RSS reader?

I hope you find all these links as useful as I do. Good luck!


A seminal resource for brand advice, curated by planner extraordinaire Richard Huntington. In his own words,

“Adliterate is dedicated to providing radical thinking for the brand advice business. It is concerned in the main by the future of advertising and the marketing communications industries, the impact of technology on communications and the nature of potent brands.”

Home page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: New Year’s Revelations
RSS feed*:


Numerous contributors, led by Martina Zavagno, share the hottest marketing practice from around the world. In Martina’s words,

“Adverblog is the place where I share the links to the best interactive marketing campaigns I happen to see around the Web.”

Home page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:

BBH Labs

Great examples of advertising and brand communications, courtesy of the innovation arm of BBH. If you want an idea of what’s to come, this is a great place to start.

Home page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:


A wonderful blend of marketing best practice with a distinctly digital perspective; musical meanderings; and general anthropological observation. It is the brainchild of Iain Tait, Creative Director at Poke London.

Home page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:

Feeding the Puppy

A great blog with a great name, Feeding the Puppy is a collection of inspirational marketing strategy from the wonderful John Willshire at PHD. To paraphrase John’s own words,

“The purpose of Feeding the Puppy is to help feed people’s creativity with interesting, different, unusual, or just fun stuff.”

Home page:
Twitter account: and

Recommended reading: Advertising Firework, Social Bonfire (Part II)
RSS feed:


Data plays a huge part in marketing, and its importance grows every day. Making sense of all that data, and finding simple yet effective ways to share it with others, is a hugely valuable skill. Flowing Data is Nathan Yau‘s superb showcase of the best in data visualisation from around the globe. In his own words,

“FlowingData explores how designers, statisticians, and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better.”

Home Page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: Demographics in World of 100 and 
Please Act Responsibly

RSS feed:


Mark Earls unearths “the hidden truth about who we are”; a superb, on-going study into our highly social nature and behaviour, with a strong marketing and advertising focus. Mark’s description goes something like:

“I was taught not to accept what I was told, but to challenge everything until a more compelling, better-evidenced and more workable descriptions of how things work emerges… My intent is to make things better by making our thinking about things better.”

Home page:
Twitter account: [NB: Mark protects his tweets]
RSS feed:

i [love] marketing

A series of deeply thoughtful and beautifully written posts on all aspects of marketing and communications. Author Ana Andjelic notes,

“Marketing today is not just about communication; it’s about people’s real-life, first-hand experiences.”

Home page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: The Problem with The Big Idea
RSS feed:

Note to CMO

“If you could send a memo to the marketing community and straighten everything out, what would you say?”

In Note to CMO, Steven Denny consistently challenges accepted marketing wisdom. His thought-provoking questions  encourage a re-evaluation of ‘how things are’, inspiring deeper insight and more strategic responses.

Home page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: The Evil of Satisficing
RSS feed:

Only Dead Fish

Neil Perkins strikes a great balance between thought-provoking editorial and more light-hearted features about various aspects of culture. He also runs a great Post of the Month poll, which is a great place to discover new sources of inspiration. In Neil’s own words, Only Dead Fish is:

“An advertising blog. And a planning blog. And a digital marketing blog. And often a communications blog. And sometimes a media blog. Or a social media blog. And the odd bit of design. And culture…”

Home page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: Consumers Are People
RSS feed:

Paul Isakson

Paul is another fantastic strategist who happily shares large quantities of valuable thinking, often in a ready-to-borrow slideshow format. His Everything Can Always Be Made Better blog is:

“A place to capture and chronicle things… that might be worth sharing as they relate to creating a better future for marketing, advertising, design and technology.”

Home Page:
Twitter account:
Recommended Reading: It’s Not What You Say That Matters…
RSS feed:


One of the best trend trackers on the web, PSFK shares amazing quantities of cutting-edge news relating to culture, innovation, and technology. As the site itself says,

“PSFK is a trends research, innovation, and activation company that publishes a daily news site, provides trends research and innovation consultancy and hosts idea-generating events. We aim to inspire our readers, our clients and our guests to make things better – whether that’s better products, better services, better lives or a better world.”

Home Page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:

Ruby Pseudo Wants A Word

Ruby’s blog is an anthropological delight, and is easily the best source of insights into young people all over the world. Alongside regular summaries of their various research projects, Ruby and team share valuable advice to companies and brands on how to engage younger audiences.

Home page:
Twitter account:
Reommended reading: When You Know You’ve Made It
RSS feed:

Russell Davies

It’s difficult to describe Russell’s blog, because it is truly eclectic; posts about marketing sit comfortably side by side with childhood nostalgia and postcards of days out. Whatever the topic, however, every post is worth savouring.

Home Page:
Twitter account: [NB: Russell protects his tweets]
Recommended Reading: Blog all dog-eared pages
RSS feed:

Seth’s Blog

This is a daily dose of inspiration from a marketing legend. Seth Godin has been inspiring me for more than 10 years, and is single-handedly responsible for showing me that marketing is about people, not process. He’s written quite a few books too, some of which he’s given away free on the web.

Home Page:
Twitter account:
Recommended Reading: Creating Stories That Resonate
RSS feed:


With 8,000 trend spotters in over 70 countries worldwide, Springwise is the leading resource for keeping track of business and marketing innovation from around the globe. In their own words,

“Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts that are ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation. We ferociously track more than 400 global offline and online business resources, as well as taking to the streets of world cities, digital cameras at hand.”

Home Page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:

Talent Imitates, Genius Steals

Faris Yakob has consistently been one of my most valuable sources of inspiration. His expansive knowledge, awesome vocabulary, and unbounded enthusiasm for almost all things combine to create a tapestry of strategic wonder and random entertainment. In Faris’s own words,

“I’m a strategist and a geek. I’m trying to work out how we communicate in a networked world, how we can make people happy, and how we can make awesome stuff that is useful, or entertaining, or both.”

Home page:
Twitter account:
Recommended reading: Transmedia Planning
RSS feed:


The sibling of business trend site Springwise, Trendwatching captures the more ‘human’ developments within culture and society. As they put it,

“ is an independent and opinionated trend firm, scanning the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas. For the latest and greatest, we rely on our network of hundreds of spotters in more than 120 countries worldwide.”

Home Page:
Twitter account:
RSS feed:

Other great twitter accounts

Here are a few more twitter accounts that I find especially valuable from a marketing perspective:

Ad Age: “the leading global source of news, intelligence and conversation for marketing and media communities.

Agency Spy: “We keep the ad industry honest, by airing out their dirty secrets.”

Brand Republic: “first for advertising, digital, marketing, media and PR

Lee Clow’s Beard: Truly insightful view of life in advertising – “Musings on advertising and facial topiary.

Not Sir Sorrell: Razor-sharp commentary on the ad world

And if you’d like to track the tweets of nearly 300 planners around the world, you might want to follow this comprehensive list: the planner list

The best of eskimon

If you enjoy what you see on the blogs above, you may like the following posts here on eskimon too:

8 steps to better communications
How to be more strategic

Innovation’s role in marketing

If you find those useful, why not subscribe to the eskimon feed:

You can also find me on twitter:

*Note that RSS feed URLs are intended for use in RSS readers, so trying to view those links in normal web browsers probably won’t deliver what you’re looking for.

safety in numbers

hide in numbers

Earlier today, a colleague remarked,

“Anyway, it’s really different when you actually meet these people,
compared to just seeing them as numbers in Excel.”

A superb observation.

‘Data’ can only tell you so much about people.

Meeting those people and actually talking with them will tell you much, much more.

Because everybody’s different.

We all have idiosyncrasies, peculiar thought processes, and varying perspectives and opinions on the world.

And the best way to really understand these is to investigate them for yourself.

There’s a time and a place for large-scale market research too, but it answers specific briefs.

For everything else, there’s no substitute for experiencing your audience’s world first-hand.

Ask Ruby – she does it all the time.

So, stop hiding in the numbers.

Get out there and talk with people.

Seth has some great thoughts on this too.

you’re onto something

wright brothers

Sometimes, you stumble upon a great idea that consumes you.

You know you’ve found a great idea when…

You haven’t checked your mail (or twitter) for at least an hour, because you’ve been so engrossed in it (what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow’).

The presentation seems to write itself.

You want to blog about the idea, even before it’s finished.

You didn’t even notice everyone else had left the office.

You can’t wait to share your thoughts with the rest of the team.

You keep a notebook beside you at all times, because you can’t stop thinking about it.

You wake up in the middle of the night with ideas on how to make it even better.

You can’t wait to get back to work in the morning.

You have so much inspiration that you struggle to decide what not to present.

The rest of the team share their builds before they even think of any issues.

You realise that you could get other brands to participate in the same campaign too.

Your MD brings the client meeting forward.

Even the finance team contribute creative ideas.

But best of all…

You exhibit the change in behaviour you’re trying to inspire in your audience before you’ve even presented the idea to the client.

Any others?

The quote is from the Wright Brothers, who knew a thing or two about getting an idea off the ground. With thanks to my dad for the Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi link, and a nod to John Hartley.

welcome suprises

[image from improv everywhere]

this makes me smile. nice surprises are always welcome!

it feels like the sort of thing ben & jerry’s or innocent smoothies could do too.

more at improv everywhere | seen at notcot


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