Ignore the Personalisation Paradox at your peril…


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Personalised marketing messages have been around for centuries – think mail-order catalogues posted to individuals, using those individual’s name and address data. The personalised customer experience, including face-to-face customer service, is not new to the world.

Personalised customer experiences are not new…

But now in the digital age, we can personalise almost every communication we have with consumers. We can use names, images, facts, charts and other data linked directly to individuals, to customise our communications – be they email, landing pages, websites, ads, SMS and more.

We can go even further by using cookies to chase individuals around the web, based on their behaviour on a landing page, website, email or other digital asset. I’ve written about the remarketing problem of leaving cigarette burns on your customers before.

But here’s the rub…

When you use direct mail and write a letter to someone, it is common courtesy and good manners to personalise your letter with the correct name, address and other relevant details of your relationship with the recipient. In fact, if you don’t personalise correctly your recipients are offended or lose respect for you the writer. Your lack of good manners can damage your brand.

Dear John…

Conversely, in the digital world, the holy grail of a “seamless personalised customer experience” can be disastrous for a brand. The more a marketer uses personalisation and demonstrates they are using digital surveillance to track an individual, the more the marketer offends the individual and possibly damages their brand.

Here’s one example I’m still experiencing. In January I searched online and visited a couple of retail stores before buying some gym equipment. Almost three months later, I am still being chased around the web via remarketing, by one of the companies from which I bought some equipment and one that I didn’t buy from – I just looked at its merchandise.

I’ve written before about how this type of remarketing mistakenly tried to sell breast pumps to a granny. It seems marketers are not learning from their mistakes – which is the best way to learn.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Marketers have fallen in love with technology and the various tracking tools now available to monitor customers. And it could be argued it’s costing them more in negative attitudes toward their brands and lost sales, than positive results.

After all, you don’t see a greengrocer chase a customer out the store and into the carpark, throwing a free banana and special deal through the customer’s driver-side window, just because the customer fondled the fruit but didn’t buy it?

Don’t leave, I’ll give you a free banana and a discount of you buy more now…

Marketers need to consider if the marketing tactics driven by their online surveillance tools pass the pub test. If they don’t, then don’t use them – simple.

Most marketers I’ve asked about remarketing and digital personalisation use words like “creepy”, “sleazy” and “not on” when describing how they feel as recipients of surveillance-based marketing. So why do we do it to the people who pay our salary – our customers?

Mind your manners

If you are writing directly to a customer or prospect, by all means personalise your message – be it mail, email, or even a PURL. It’s good manners to do so.

But if you are going to use surveillance-based marketing tools to “personalise the online customer experience” you need to ask yourself if it is worth doing. Would you like to be treated the way you are treating your customers? Are you practising good manners and respecting them?

The reason you consider your options is simple. The marketing industry is among the least trusted in the world. The last ten years has seen its reputation trashed by the digital marketing practitioners. Your surveillance-based marketing will only reinforce this negative attitude and reduce the effectiveness of your marketing budget.

Trust me, I’m a digital marketer…

And this is the Personalisation Paradox that marketers face. It’s a delicate balancing act and you need to take it seriously – particularly if you want your customers to take your brand seriously.

Gotta go now – I was going to search for some lingerie for my bride’s birthday, but am concerned by what might follow me around the internet afterwards. Think I’ll just visit the store at the mall instead….

Will electronic payments and selfish humans eliminate small retail businesses?


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If you’re like most of the population dear reader, you’re probably using less cash these days to pay for goods at your local retail stores. I certainly am. Apparently here in Oz, we’re one of the highest per capita users of electronic “tap n go” payments. Cash is declining rapidly.

This is causing problems for local retail stores, particularly those for which a website is not essential for business – dry cleaners, cafes, bakers, butchers, clothing stores and the like.

Now before the trolls attack me for claiming a retail store doesn’t need a website, what I’m saying is that online sales are not a major part of the revenue for these businesses. If they have one, it’s purpose is more for customer service, providing information and in some cases selling products.

These businesses make most of their money from passing foot traffic, not from customers driving from distant suburbs to buy their wares, or ordering goods remotely. I’m not going to order a coffee online and have it delivered by a bloke on a bike. I’ll go to the café and sit there to enjoy my cuppa and company.

I’ve owned and worked in a local family supermarket (many years ago) and a travel agency (only a couple of years ago), so have some hands-on experience. I’ve even been robbed of our weekly cash takings, which is not a nice experience.

One reason small business owners work the long hours they do – both at the store and after hours with stock and bookkeeping – is the undeclared cash they take from the business. Quite simply, if small business owners had to declare all their income, they might as well get a job working for someone else, as they lose too much in company and personal tax. The hourly rate of return is just not worth the effort. The less tangible reason for owning a small business is the “joy” of being your own boss.

One of my mates is the son of Greek migrants who moved to Australia after WW11. They fled the oppression of post-war Europe and opened one of the first espresso coffee shops in Sydney. My mate said his parents didn’t trust banks after their experiences back in the old country. When he was growing up, he thought everybody was like his family – when they wanted cash, they went to the garbage bags stored in the roof cavity of their home. That’s where his parents stored the financial takings from their café in which they worked 7 days a week.

Am going shopping will just get some cash from the roof…

I’ve recently been talking with retailers about the cash, or should that be, cashless issue. Another mate of mine owns a surf clothing store and is about to close its doors. He has spent a lifetime of more than 50 years in the rag trade. He said the reason for shutting up shop is threefold. It’s a perfect storm – lower cash income, online discounting and human nature.

The human nature is interesting. He said it is astonishing the number of people who use the store as a catalogue, trying on clothes, then photographing them and going online to buy them cheaper. Just confirms the old adage that people only care about one thing – themselves. This is why those two words “You” and “FREE” are still the most powerful words you can use in marketing communications.

I’ll see if I can buy this online – bugger the shopkeeper…

He is smart – he owns his building. So he has an asset he can sell or rent for income. But as he said, “every retailer used to carry a wad of cash in their pocket. Suppliers would always offer deals for cash, particularly if they wanted to offload remainder or excess stock. This made it easy for the retailer to make a decent profit on those goods, or throw in a bonus to loyal customers.

His store has a website, but it is not as good as it could be and like all retail websites, is not cheap to update and maintain. Yes, it generates additional revenue, but it also adds costs that didn’t exist previously in the P & L. It doesn’t pay for itself. So the more his business has moved to cashless payments, the less it is worth to him.

I suspect this small business closure trend will continue and the side effect will be the loss of convenience stores and other local retailers. Either that, or we will accept paying more for goods. Recent research revealed that humans pay more per item and spend more frequently when they use electronic payment devices, than when they use cash. Apparently we value cash more.

By nature, humans are lazy creatures – we prefer the path of least resistance. If the easiest way to buy something is to do so electronically with a swipe or tap, we will do it that way. Nothing new here:

Interestingly, a café I frequent in Brisbane still offers a discount for cash payment, while many restaurants in Chinatown only take cash. To save my teenagers carting cash around (and losing it) they now carry debit cards. My bride and I control the amount on the cards. My teens use them in the school canteen, or when out with friends at the beach, mall or movies.

But now one of the most frequent requests I get, both verbally and by text message is, “how much do I have on my card?” These “notifications” force me to check the accounts and top-up as required. And you guessed it, my teens relish the habit of “tap n go” and are spending more using these cards than if we restricted them to cash-only. Not sure I’ve done the right thing here?

Have to go now – need to top-up my daughter’s card so she can buy something like sushi rolls for lunch. It’s a long way from my once-a-fortnight vanilla slice treat when I was in high school…

Mmmmm, vanilla slice…

How digital marketers destroyed one of the most profitable media channels…


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As many of you will know, one of the major weaknesses of digital marketers is their lack of knowledge of marketing history.

They naively assumed that just because a technology was new, all previous technology was useless, all existing media channels no longer worked, proven techniques suddenly failed, and human DNA changed forever. So they ignored everything that had worked pre-internet.

The nature of technology is to constantly evolve. Experienced marketers have lived through a constant stream of technical innovations – in television, radio, outdoor, mail, print, sponsorship and of course online. So for most, the digital channels just offered additional media options for marketing purposes.

One of the most profitable channels – for both the media owner and marketers – was the humble mailing list. Mailing lists existed for every consumer and B2B category. You could rent them or create your own and reach every person on the list. Many list owners rented their lists both for profit and to keep the list current.

But then the marketing toddlers in their digital nappies arrived. When they realised the power of direct marketing via email, they really went to town – spamming, abusing privacy, ignoring unsubscribe requests and generally operating without any ethics. They were so appallingly bad at the use of email lists, governments around the world were forced to take action to stop them.

In countries across the globe new laws banning spam, banning the sending of unsolicited emails, and protecting the privacy of consumers, were legislated. These were the direct result of digital marketers abusing their privilege – to communicate directly with consumers.

The backwash from these bans was devastating. Here’s why:

The new privacy and opt-in laws, spilled into the databases of mailing list owners, not just email list owners. These new laws meant once-compliant mailing list owners had to comply with laws designed for email list owners.

So, if you owned a list and it contained contacts from more than one country, you now had to comply with multiple privacy and spam laws. The cost of this compliance became prohibitive. When coupled with the reduction in subscribers to printed magazines, the cost versus revenue for list ownership and maintenance became unsustainable. The penalties for non-compliance were too high and not worth the risk of human error.

For the uninitiated, prior to these new laws, any marketer could rent a mailing list and send direct mail for business purposes. Let’s say for example, you wanted to reach IT professionals. You didn’t have to advertise and hope you reached them. You could rent a list and mail them anything from a letter to a white paper, even include an involvement device. Then you managed responses and followed-up the non-responses by phone.

Here’s one of the world’s most successful B2B campaigns from a pre-internet age. It paid for itself within 4 hours of delivery.

But that simple way of doing business has been severely damaged. Thanks to the spam and privacy laws, there are way fewer lists available to rent – particularly in niche markets.

Now B2B marketing for example, has become much more complicated and open to abuse. It is reflected in the growth of the fake influencers and fake thought leaders. Instead of renting a list or building one, marketers are being told they have to do social selling. As against anti-social selling? What sales process isn’t social?

Here, according to the digital marketing experts, is what you have to do today to reach a B2B prospect.

  1. Connect to as many executives as possible on LinkedIn or other social channels.
  2. Pay a third party, usually in a third-world country, to create a white paper, or ‘content’ for you to send to every contact you have, via the social channels.
  3. Don’t use proven sales techniques in your messaging, as selling is evil.
  4. Just hope the contact has nothing better to do but read your content and love it so much they contact you.
  5. To convince your connection your ‘content’ is worth consuming, call it “thought leadership” and call yourself “an influencer” – for no reason other than to big yourself up in your own eyes and hopefully fool some poor sucker that you know what you’re talking about.
  6. When your social selling fails to work, use the KPI of “thought leadership” and “content marketing” to fool your boss that things are OK. One way to do this is to send your boss all your content when you send it to your connections.

This process takes way longer and costs much more than simply mailing your prospects and customers with relevant information and reasons to respond (known as selling). But hey, it has digital buzzwords attached to it so it must be worth destroying a profitable media channel.

I’m not saying that contacting people on LinkedIn and gradually converting them to a customer doesn’t work. Though most social sellers don’t practice what they preach. Instead, they connect and start flogging their wares immediately, without any credibility, using puff-words like “awesome”, “killer”, “secrets”, and “mind-blowing” in their message.

Here’s an example of one I received this week from a person who asked to join my network, I didn’t invite him. It arrived courtesy of marketing automation: “…5 killer LinkedIn tactics we used to generate 50 appointments and 13 closed deals in 2 months” I have no idea why he thinks I’m a prospect, these killer tactics are the last thing I need to grow a business. The message has zero credibility.

Interestingly, many of the thought leaders on social selling have never used direct mail, so they have no credibility when claiming social selling is the solution. You can prove it too – do a split run test. You might be surprised at the results.

In my experience, using mail supported by the digital channels will get the best result – but I’m only speaking from experience. Given current marketers don’t care about marketing history aka “experience” the message will probably fall on deaf ears.

Blatant Plug…

If you live in Brisbane and want to know how to make your mail work in a digital world, here’s a blatant plug. Join Steve Harrison, the man Campaign magazine described as “The greatest Direct Mail creative of his generation“. He’s won more Cannes Lion awards for direct mail than anyone else. You’ll learn how to do award-winning, effective direct mail at this event on 11th March 2019:


Who ya gonna call when you want users for your UX testing…


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Well not ghostbusters that’s for sure.


I’ve found the whole rush by marketers to become “customer experience” experts quite amusing. Why, just because people use hand-held computers, do marketers believe customer experience is a new phenomenon?

The customer experience has always been at the heart of everything marketers have done since the invention of marketing. If customers enjoyed their shopping experience (that’s marketing jargon BTW, not customer language) they returned to buy again. Simple.

If they didn’t enjoy it, they didn’t return. Simple.

Stores were designed to make it easy to find what you want, while order forms were also designed to make remote ordering as easy as possible. Staff were trained to assist customers and were known curiously as “customer service staff”. Call centres were established to provide customer service. The customer experience has always been standard marketing 101.


the customer experience wasn’t invented yesterday

So given that online sales are less than 10% of total retail sales, why are marketers faking a new essential requirement of marketing – the customer experience? Cue the acronyms – UX (User Experience) and CX (Customer Experience).

It’s damn obvious that using a website or an app, on either a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, has to be as easy as possible. It’s called “common sense”. Make life difficult for your customers and you’ll quickly lose them. Make it easy and they’ll keep buying from you.

Does it really need a whole genre of marketing for such a simple and obvious element of commerce? Me thinks we marketers do tend to navel gaze and play with ourselves too much.

But if you do need punters for your user testing, so you can fine tune your common sense service, who are ya gonna call? Well you don’t have to call, rather you visit an Australian start-up providing the goods.

It’s called askable and it is a platform where you can recruit people who fit your customer profile (sorry, persona) to attend your user testing sessions. It’s a service whose time has come. Check it out and mention my name for a special deal.

I have to go on a customer journey now. I need to convince askable to give you a special deal for your UX…

There’s a reason the first three letters of ‘content marketing’ are ‘con’…


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Marketers are a weird lot. We love to over-complicate things. We also have a strange penchant for renaming existing tactics and marketing techniques that have worked sometimes for more than 100 years, just because a new media channel has been invented.

Take social media. Please, take it. I mean, is there any media channel that isn’t social? By their very nature, media and the messages published/broadcast in them are social. After all, we don’t have anti-social media channels do we?

As you know dear reader, since the introduction of digital channels, the resurgence of the emperor’s new clothes is complete. Cyber-hustlers everywhere have claimed new things exist where they don’t. Fake thought leaders try to convince gullible marketers that human DNA has changed forever, particularly when it comes to consumption of marketing messages and buying stuff.

the resurgence of the emperor’s new clothes is complete

And of course there’s the great content con. Apparently until the internet, there was no such thing as content for marketing purposes. I ask you, what do the content zealots believe has been filling every advertisement, brochure, video, billboard, sales presentation, media release, article, etc since year dot, but content?

To clarify the content situation I have created two lists:

“Content marketing” before the internet

“Content marketing” after the internet

As you can see, apart from a handful of new channels, marketers are still creating exactly the same content they always have – they’re just distributing it in these new channels as well as the traditional ones.

So why rename what has always been done just because we have digital distribution of traditional analogue content?

The illiterates are creating the content

But there is a bigger problem at play. Prior to the internet, content was in the most part written by professional copywriters and journalists. Art directors designed how the words were displayed.

In todays content-filled world, every unqualified executive who can type creates content. They operate under the mantra of “I type therefore I am…a content marketer“. In fact, many marketers avoid using trained and experienced writers and do their best to get Josephine Junior, or a mate’s son to write their content, manage their social posts, create their online ads…

If you weren’t aware, the OECD Adult Literacy Study revealed at least 82.5% of the population struggles to read and write competently. Yet it’s these illiterates who are creating the marketing content.

The mind boggles as to how marketers justify their folly. It’s one reason why I created www.thecontentbrewery.com a couple of years ago – it’s an anti-content marketing, content marketing website.

So if you’re looking to create content…..


Here’s some more content about content marketing:

Why there’s really no reason to ever use the term “content marketing”…

The 3 essential questions for content marketing success

How the content paradox and your A.S.S. Time ruin content marketing performance

Shell’s content marketing turns 40 and still sells

Good manners will always trump marketing content

Why most shared content has almost no impact on your brand

When technology companies mistakenly believe they’re marketing experts…


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If you work in marketing you will no doubt be a recipient of the vomitron that is the content marketing of the “martech” companies.

I’ve never understood the claims these companies make about their marketing expertise. It’s the equivalent of a medical instrument salesperson claiming they’re a surgeon. Just because a company supplies software used by marketers, does not automatically translate into that company possessing marketing expertise.

After I sell you this instrument can I do a spot of brain surgery before I leave?

Many of these companies are highly successful. Marketo for example, was just bought for a casual few $Billion by Adobe. Generally though, they’re successful because they sell very good software, not because they supply marketing advice. They also usually have bucketloads of investor’s money to throw against the wall to get themselves noticed.

Ironically, it’s their “content marketing” that is usually the giveaway that they’re not too savvy at marketing, despite their posturing. Here are a couple of examples that arrived in my in-box last week.

Salesforce posted a blog laid out as follows:

You can tell from the headline, you’ll need to suspend your reality if you’re going to believe what’s coming. The layout is almost incomprehensible. The article claims to be “based on the shopping data of over 500 million global shoppers, we’ve outlined the five biggest trends that will dominate headlines this holiday season“.

I’m not sure what this means? Is it 500 million people in the USA who shop for things across the globe? Is it 500 million people from around the globe who have bought something online? Have they bought once only? Is it just measuring online shopping data or does it include all the people’s shopping? So many questions unanswered…

Depending in which country you live, online shopping accounts for between 3% and 9% of total annual retail sales. So if this report is only measuring online sales, it’s the kiddie pool of retail shopping that’s being measured here.

I also have no idea where these headlines will dominate? Newspapers? Christmas catalogues? Outdoor posters? Blog posts? Trump’s Tweets?

So the premise is confusing before we even start on the so-called “headline trends”.

The first trend is a blatant lie. It states: Holiday shoppers will buy more on mobile than on any other device

This could be construed as people who are shopping for holidays, but let’s assume it means people who are shopping during the holidays. This is an outrageous claim as it is nowhere near the truth. There is not one customer in a supermarket with a full shopping trolley, buying their groceries using their mobile. They are picking them off the shelf and paying for them at the checkout using credit or debit cards, and in some cases, electronic payment devices.

To reflect the truth, the claim should probably read: “Of the overall sales made during the holidays, the small percentage made online will be done in the most part via mobile devices.”

This is not news. Anybody working in marketing knows that mobile devices are now the preferred way to access the internet and shop online. This activity has been trending for the last decade.

The second trend is gobsmacking bollocks. AI-based product recommendations will drive 35% of revenue

How do these people sleep at night? 35% of all revenue will be driven by AI??? If online sales are less than 10% of all sales, how can 35% of all revenue come from AI? Gartner will have to develop a new section for its Hype Cycle. The “Fabricated Lies to Drive Enthusiasm” section. It’s just before the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” section.

If you’re interested, you can read the whole article here, but it won’t help your marketing in any way.

On the same day as the Salesforce blog, three hours apart, I received two emails signed by “Team Marketo”. Even the most junior marketer knows that teams don’t send emails, individuals do. How often in your organisation does the whole “team” sit around a keyboard and collectively hit the send button? Ever?

Even worse than teams allegedly sending messages, is a message that doesn’t include a telephone number. If your business model doesn’t allow for a customer to easily call you, then your business is at risk.

It’s strange how the digital marketing industry seems to delight in only delivering a less-than-average DIY customer service, while prattling on about CX and UX. That is, the companies force customers to search websites in frustration, while trying unsuccessfully to find answers to problems, because the companies refuse to provide customer service by telephone.

To prove my point I had to use Google to search for Marketo’s phone number and then call the Australian reception, as there was no number in the emails. A computer put me on hold and then a very polite person named Claire answered. I asked if I could speak with Team Marketo. Claire was confused.

A team preparing to send bulk personal emails…

So I explained I had receive messages from Team Marketo and wanted to talk with the team. She explained that wasn’t possible but she might be able to help. I asked how can a team send an email? Do they all gather around one computer? Claire advised it was a martech problem. Ironically, Marketo is migrating data in a Salesforce CRM system and the system can’t read all the data. So Marketo has to send personal mesages from teams, rather than individuals. Go figure.

At least Marketo won’t have to worry about Salesforce much longer, given they’ll soon be doing another migration to their new owners at Adobe.

I also have no idea what “empowering the fearless marketer” in the signature file means? Does it only work for extroverts? What about the shy marketers? It seems to be just another glib strapline to try to build credibility where it probably doesn’t exist.

As Mark Twain (and others) have said; “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail“. And so it is with martech companies. They only operate in narrow channels in the digital space, but they assume the whole world lives their too. So they only ever provide alleged expertise for a handful of digital channels. They never provide expertise on TV advertising, male urinal advertising, skywriting, railway stair advertising, radio, mail, outdoor, letterbox, blah, blah.

The reason is simple – they know absolutely nothing about these media channels. Which means they only know a smidgen about marketing communications in general. Their sweeping marketing generalisations to attain credibility are often more dangerous than helpful.

Here’s another that arrived today.

Any art director worth their salt, knows you never reverse type out of a dark or image background. Comprehension is reduced to around 12% at best, as it is impossible to read. And you never centre blocks of copy. You either justify it or range it left.

As for the copy, well let’s just say anything talking about “engagement” of any sort is a dead giveaway it’s likely talking platitudes rather than facts.

Email marketing success is relatively simple:

The “From Line” gets the email opened, while the “Subject Line” gets the message deleted. Recipients ask “who is sending this – do I know them?” and then “what is the message about, is it of interest to me?” Then they decide whether to open or delete the message. The rest is just process. You don’t need a technology company to tell you how to succeed.

Maybe the technology companies should stick to their knitting – delivering Software as a Service. Let the marketers worry about doing the marketing education. After all, I’m sure they wouldn’t let a marketer tell them how to design the code for their software…

The silence of the fake influencers and lack-of-thought leaders is deafening…


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Those who have read my missives or attended my seminars, are aware I’ve been calling out the online zealots and their snake-oil since the invention of the information superhighway. So here’s today’s polite rant.

The internet and all it brings, is one of the most positive developments in the marketing industry. Yet the industry has been infested with dodgy, dishonest and downright diabolical deceivers, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Though it’s been quite comforting to have a number of industry heavyweights step into the fray these last couple of years and join the cause for honesty and integrity in digital marketing.

But something struck me recently. Given the public revelation about the major players in the digital media landscape, and their lack of ethics around privacy, data usage and the real number of users, something was missing. To recap:

  • Facecrook – data dishonesty, deletion of almost 20% of all accounts as they were fake, lies about video viewership, the list goes on…
  • Google – preferential treatment of advertisers in search results, placement of ads on fake accounts through programmatic channels…
  • Instagram – fake accounts, fake followers, fake likes, fake comments, fake influencers…
  • TripAdviser – fake reatsurant becomes number one eatery in London via fake reviews…
  • Twitter – fake news, fake accounts, fake followers, minimal brand success…

And that’s just scratching the surface. I suggest Bob Hoffman’s book BadMen should be compulsory reading for all young graduates considering a career in marketing.

Despite all the overwhelming evidence about the lack of credibility in these channels and the ingrained dishonesty in the DNA of digital marketers, those who’ve arguably made the most money from naive punters – the alleged influencers and thought leaders – have been deathly silent in their condemnation.

To quote The Adventures of file clerk Ralph Mellish, nothing happened“.

None have come forth to apologise for their false opinionations unsupported by facts. There has been no admittance of guilt by these cyber-hustlers who stole budgets from unsuspecting marketers and entrepreneurs.

Where is the mea culpa? Where is the “content marketing” repealing the dishonest deeds via blogs, newsletters, social posts and videos?

Have you heard any apologies? “ah sorry, the truth is out, I lied” or “yep, you caught me, I was a bandwagon jumper looking to make a fast buck“, or “sorry, I made fake claims, but hey there was too much money to be made on the back of your FOMO” or “don’t blame me, I believed Facecrook, after all it was online so it must be true.”

It seems the only marketers making noise about the problems are those who have always criticised the opinionators, then suffered the trolls and backlash for having the gall to do so.

So if you’ve subscribed to an alleged influencer’s “content” now is the time to unsubscribe. Stop listening to them, unless they apologise and share the honest facts with you. But don’t hold your breath.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed some are no longer sharing secret social sauce. Rather they’re discussing “purpose” (the latest way to make money from FOMO) or giving advice on management tips, or workplace wellbeing – anything but the digital baloney they’ve been hustling for the last few years.

The truth is, there is only one way to get rich online. It is to run a business telling suckers how to get rich online.

Otherwise the real way to get rich online, is to do what those who get rich offline always do. They make sure their marketing activity does at least one or all of the following – nothing else:

  • Create new customers
  • Get those customers spending more money with you more often
  • Keep those customers spending money with you for as long as possible

It doesn’t matter what tactics or channels you use, as long as they are profitable. Many won’t be. You’ll have to test and learn. Nothing new here. And if you don’t invest in your brand, well that’s another story…

Ignore the fake influencers and lack-of-thought leaders – even call them out publically. Ask for your money back if you feel you’ve been taken for a ride. If they are legitimate they’ll return it to you.

Then remember this simple fact – technology changes, people don’t. Certainly not in the short life of new marketing channels. People buy emotionally and justify their purchase rationally – regardless of the media or shopping channels involved. Always have, always will.

Gotta go now, I’m downloading this super-awesome definitive guide by a technology company. It’s tells the 63 mind-blowing money-making social media headlines and content secrets, used by ninja unicorn mega-marketers to help you retire early as a thought-leading power Linkfluencer and best-selling author…

Here’s how personalised magazines always over-engage readers for an outstanding CX…


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Please accept my apology for the jargon overload in the headline. Back in pre-history, around 2004, I helped a number of competing print companies launch their Variable Data Digital Printers via a series of seminars, trade shows and other marketing activity.

This disruptive technology delivered what many now call data-driven marketing. It was simply the use of relevant data to digitally print personalised publications and link readers to personalised landing pages. An undigi-believable omni-channel breakthrough. But let’s just pretend data-driven marketing is only five year’s old like most digital marketers believe it to be, so as not to confuse them.

One of the most successful promotions and product demonstrations we did, was to personalise the cover of a number of Marketing magazines for individual subscribers. We also personalised the accompanying advertisement to the subscriber inside the respective issues, as well as the landing page.

At the time, the Editor of Marketing magazine said the covers were the most talked about in the history of the publication. They had never had such a positive response. He said subscribers were ringing and writing to congratulate them. It was massive engagement to use today’s jargon.

Leap forward to 2018 and a few months ago I was asked by Kellie Northwood, the Publisher of VoPP magazine, to be the Guest Editor. I readily accepted and suggested the magazine be customised for those on the database. Kellie agreed.

Well VoPP has just hit the streets, and this customised version demonstrates the power of print when it comes to engaging susbcribers via personalisation.

Here’s the outer envelope:

Here’s the personalised magazine cover:

There is a customised message on the cover for each of the key subscriber groups, as well as a custom background colour. If you scan the QR Code it takes you to a PURL where you can complete a survey. There is a segmented group title printed below the code – mine is Agency/Retailer on this edition. And to add some polish there’s a spot fluoro ink printed on the QR code too. The story of how it was produced is in the magazine.

Here are examples from 2004/5:

Fuji Xerox – personalised message on the screen:

Personalised ad on back cover:

Personalised ad inside the front cover:

PURL – Personalised URL:

Direct Smile font printed via HP Indigo:

Personalised advertisement on back cover:

.Another issue:

Penfold Buscombe printed these versions with personal message written on the street sign and the image of the relevant capital city in the rear view mirror:

Customised versions by State printed using postcode data:

VoPP stands for Value of Paper and Print. If you’d like to get a FREE copy of VoPP Mag, visit the website to subscribe: http://valueofpaperandprint.com.au/subscribe/

I’m off to read this issue, there’s an interesting guest editor…

Dodgy digital dopes depend on “dinosaur dailies” to disclose diabolical do dos…


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What can you say dear reader…

Both Facecrook and Floptus use full page press advertising to try to rebuild credibility.

Who do you trust – certainly not the digital channels that’s for sure…

Optus, now known as Floptus, apologises…

Facecrook’s recent press ad apologising to the world…