• What a convicted peer of the realm can teach you about marketing

    May 14 • Uncategorized • 105 Views

    Birmingham, May 13th 2019, European Elections loom over the country, the eyes of the world are on it

    A convicted peer of the realm, multi-millionaire and literary record-breaker takes to the stage. 500 people crane their necks, leaning in to get a closer look.

    Another 1000 are watching it LIVE online.

    ‘Ladies and gentlemen. I would like to announce…’

    He hesitates, taking in his surroundings and the enormity of the occasion.

    ‘I would like to announce, my intention to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party.’

    The room erupts. A joke of course but Lord Jeffrey Archer already has the audience eating out of his hand.

    It has often been said that Jeffrey Archer’s own story would make an international bestseller and I met him yesterday, hence sending this email out a few days early as I wanted to share a very important idea with you.

    You see, I am a writer. I communicate.

    Jeffrey Archer, among many things as I’m sure you will know, is a storyteller. In fact no, he’s a master storyteller.

    Over the course of 2 hours he discussed the craft of writing, politics, his time in prison, even his record-breaking career as an amateur athlete. 

    Now published in 97 countries and more than 33 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established, with international sales passing 275 million copies. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (nineteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

    The key lesson to take from Lord Archer was that yes, he is a professional writer but really, he is a storyteller. There is a difference. 

    Ask yourself, does your marketing tell stories? Would you HONESTLY want to read one of your case studies? 

    Everything, from your About Us page on your website, to your testimonials, case studies and yes, even your sales letters should tell stories. Don’t even get me started on your press releases

    So next time you sit down to write some copy, just think about the power of a story and how you can weave your own.

    I did that in the first 10 lines of this email and if you enjoyed them, I bet you’re still reading now. So think creatively, make your customers the characters, set a scene, lead people on a journey and don’t forget, you are the narrator. 

    Your are the storyteller.

    Happy Headlines.

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  • Don’t just visit a trade show – report it

    May 9 • Uncategorized • 88 Views

    I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

    It is something I have done for myself to build authority for years and something that I also now do for clients and it involves trade shows. 

    You know the places, a glorified aircraft hangar replete with mega stands costing thousands, keynote speeches, celebrity masterclasses and ‘fireside chats’ with business megastars.

    Maybe your stand is there too?

    Perched on the end of the aisle, you and your team hoping for someone, ANYONE to pop over to look at your new widget.

    Maybe you didn’t take a stand at all as it was a ‘rip off’ or you don’t have the manpower to make it pay this year? Maybe you have nothing new to show this year so you’ll either not go or just register as a visitor?

    We’ve all been there, me included.

    However, there’s a little trick I have used time and time again which has not only enabled me to meet people, it has also elevated me or my client right there at the show and in the crucial days after.

    Very simply, I stop thinking like a marketer.

    I don’t REALLY, I’m always thinking like a marketer, I just put on a different hat.

    I revert to my old role as a journalist.

    I roam the halls and stands looking for interesting stories. I listen to the seminars and take notes. I Tweet live during the talks, I share interesting stands, different ideas and concepts.

    What I’m doing is rising above the noise and rather than trying to OVERTLY make myself or my client’s brand heard, I get people to want to hear from me. I become a USEFUL part of the show.

    Even with BIG sums invested in stands, too many people spend 2-3 days out of their business with the best of intentions, branded up to the max, novelty sponge balls, paperweights and the ubiquitous branded USB stick in hand.

    But sadly, it rarely seems to pay off.

    Ask me about how I turn these events into a content generating marathon and more crucially, a chance to elevate yourself or your brand to the role of authority and thought leader by clicking HERE This is UK only I’m afraid.

    Happy Headlines.


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  • What to do when the phone rings and it’s the BBC

    May 2 • Uncategorized • 116 Views

    I took a call this week from the BBC asking me to comment on some breaking news.

    ‘No problem’ I said, frantically opening up Google to see what it might be, as I’d not had time to read the papers yet – something I do every morning to see what angles my clients might leverage for blogs.

    ‘Great thanks Greg, we’re after some comment on the failed Sainsbury’s merger.’


    I begin Googling frantically to see if one of their spokespeople made a total mess of a press interview.

    Nothing to see so far.

    I decide to stall for time. ‘So, let me know what you’re after here.’

    ‘Well, just some insight into the competition law that has essentially scuppered it. Anything you might be able to shed some light on really.’

    I come clean. 

    ‘It’s not really my thing. Have you got the right Greg? I might have a client who can help here but I’m all about media management, publicity and marketing.’

    ‘Sorry Greg, thought your voice sounded familiar. Wrong Simpson.’

    ‘No probs. You know where I am next time.’

    There are a couple of lessons from this I want you to remember.

    1. Always answer the phone, you never know when it is the BBC.
    2. Always try to help.
    3. Always be honest. I do NOT subscribe to the ‘fake it ’til you make it mentality peddled by various ‘gurus’.

    Also, ask yourself THESE 3 questions and use them to build your marketing campaign around…

    If the BBC made a call to you out of the blue, what WOULD you want them to ask you for comment on? 
    What IS your special area of expertise? 
    Where can you add value to an audience by sharing your insight and knowledge?

    Now start writing about it. Start commenting. Start getting ready for your BBC opportunity NOW. Then when they call or when I suggest WE call them together to pitch you as an expert you will be perfectly positioned as an expert.

    Practice makes perfect.

    Happy Headlines.


    PS if you fancy a chat about how I can position you as an expert, from butcher to banker, lawyer to lawn care, just book a call with me HERE This is UK only I’m afraid. Remember, know your expertise.

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  • All fools – what Justin Bieber and I have in common

    Apr 4 • Uncategorized • 162 Views

    Here’s a clue, it isn’t our dancing, our torsos or our lexical dexterity.

    What we have in common is that we both played an April Fools trick to generate attention and get people flocking.

    However, whilst one of us had texts of congratulations on a job well done for mocking the pretentious self-promotion of some marketing agencies we have known, the other was slammed in the press for insensitivity to people who have lost babies or struggle to have children of their own.

    Spoiler alert, I was the former. 

    Mr Bieber thought it would be ‘funny’ to post a fake story about his girlfriend being pregnant on social media.

    You see, whilst I understand my audience and could have some fun with some gentle mickey-taking, even getting the regional business press involved in covering it what ‘the Bieber’ did was purely done for attention.

    There was no thought to tone, the message, the downside, the risk to reputation. He just focused on the ‘reward’ which again, was far too vague. 

    He was only interested in the clicks, the notoriety and probably the need to ‘stay relevant’.

    This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do April Fools angles or PR stunts in general, just make sure that if you do go for it you have measured the downside as well as the upside.

    There’s two really easy questions to ask here which are basically at the root of satire…

    Will this offend someone who is vulnerable or make someone feel more vulnerable who has no recourse to fight back against me? Will it cause harm?

    If it might, stay well away.

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  • Pidgin English – PR guru invests in latest messaging tech

    Apr 1 • Uncategorized • 49 Views

    Nottingham-based PR agency, Press For Attention PR, has announced plans to revolutionise the way businesses communicate in post-Brexit Britain with the addition of a flock of pigeons to the team.

    The agency is led by Greg Simpson, a former business journalist and published author on PR who admittedly never lets and opportunity go past to mention that he used to live in Papua New Guinea and the Peak District.
    A press release which arrived this morning, delivered by intern carrier ‘April’ indicates that Simpson believes his background and his passion to ‘think outside the coup’ made the latest hire a logical step.
    ‘Every PR agency and expert in marketing is always looking for the next innovation to help their clients get fantastic results from their campaigns. I looked into various technologies and spoke to a series of investors who were keen to get in early on my latest idea before settling on the carrier pigeon solution.
    ‘There is so much noise out there with regards the latest digital media solutions and they have their place but April and I hope to really deliver with this.’
    Simpson is understood to have been deluged by CVs of varying quality and hygiene along with numerous LinkedIn requests and questions about shared parental leave.
    ‘The response so far has been fantastic,’ Simpson added, sitting in a hastily constructed loft on Old Market Square. 
    ‘April knows the area like the back of her claw and is clearly very talonted, plus she has virtually zero carbon footprint which is great news for us a a modern agency with a responsible approach to the environment. I look forward to working with her as we soar to new heights.’

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  • Testimonials – grab them by the you know whats

    Mar 28 • Uncategorized • 122 Views

    There’s a reason why testimonials are thus called. 

    Folk on trial in the days of ancient Rome tended to be men and tended to fear loss of some key ‘assets’ rather keenly.

    I have spared ‘David’s’ blushes in the photo above but I think you get the picture. 

    No, scrolling down won’t work.

    Anyway, when promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth they would place their hands…well…you can fill in the blanks here.

    It lends trust.

    The problem is, when it comes to too many testimonials that I read on websites or that are increasingly read out by politicians, the lack of detail does exactly the opposite. 

    ‘M Smith’ may well think your widgets are amazing, as may ‘B Jones’ or to add greater veracity, ‘P Piper of Peterborough’.

    The problem is, too many people don’t believe them. They are not proper testimonials as there is no ownership. No traceability and ultimately, no proof.

    Now, in some situations, this may be unavoidable due to data protection and confidentiality issues. If that is the case, I’d argue you are better leaving them out altogether UNLESS people can ask you for the reference following agreed clearance by you and your client. 

    Sometimes, that can add an extra layer of trust, especially if you work in a very discreet industry.

    If you struggle gaining true testimonials, the best tactic is actually very simple. Just ask.

    You can point people to your Google Reviews, mine are HERE and yes I need more or you can use your LinkedIn endorsements or extract them and put them on your website. Again, here’s a few of mine and crucially, you can see the people who left them and even click them to go to their LinkedIn profile.

    That is great proof and adds another layer of trust as the people testifying are able to be seen in greater detail.

    So if you are looking into this area for your own marketing material, don’t be scared to ask, do make it easy for people to leave reviews and don’t be tempted to ‘fake it ’til you make it’. 

    Grab this project by the you know whats and do it properly.

    Happy Headlines.


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  • This blog contains big BUTS…

    Mar 14 • Uncategorized • 127 Views

    …and I cannot lie.

    Fear not, gentle reader, this particular giant but – note singular ‘t’ – is the one most people are defaulting to right now and is another dreaded ‘B’ word…yep, Brexit.

    Negotiations are much in the news today. I’m writing this ahead of watching PMQs because I have to as a business to business PR specialist.

    There’s always an angle my clients can comment on so it is great fodder for me but my word it is depressing stuff.

    I’ve lost count of the ways people have found to use Brexit as a ‘reason’ aka ‘excuse’ not to make decisions. Of course in certain situations that is absolutely correct and we’re balancing risk v reward.

    However, people seem to have forgotten the REWARD part of the equation.

    When it comes to investing in your marketing, I understand people being more cautious, nobody really knows what is coming down the road after Brexit but guess what…

    Nobody REALLY knew before.

    They rarely do.

    The best marketers however do know that if they get X amount of enquiries they make Y amount of conversions and Z amount of sales.

    They also know what that means in terms of profit.

    So before you start lining up your buts, make sure you are basing your ‘reasons’ on sound marketing information, not just delaying because it appears safer.

    Also, remember that if everyone else is doing the same thing, that gives you a HUGE opportunity to be seen and heard.

    I will make you one peach of a guarantee with regards your sales if you do keep putting off decisions…

    You won’t make many and that, frankly, is the bottom line.

    Happy Headlines.




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  • Stuck for ideas for a CSR initiative? Google it.

    Feb 27 • Uncategorized • 208 Views

    ‘Don’t be evil’ a key part of Google’s Code of Conduct was quietly shelved back in 2018, probably due to the fact that suggesting it as a possibility hinted at likelihood of it occurring…

    Anyway, they now work within a more vague ‘ethical business conduct’ guideline which is somewhat dull but does conjure fewer mental images of white cats and hidden lairs and informs their CSR efforts.

    However, they aren’t just talking about NOT being evil, they are actively seeking to DO good as part of their extensive CSR campaign.

    According to an article by Kevin Xu for Entrepreneur.com recently ‘Google.org — the company’s nonprofit arm — donates 1 percent of Google’s total equity and profits to charity. Recently, moreover, the initiative has furthered its efforts in that sphere by focusing on actions, not just investments.

    Critically, they are getting their employees involved too, this ain’t all about the money folks.

    Kevin goes on;

    They will be able to spend up to six months offering their full-time expertise to nonprofits. In fact this year alone alone, Google will ‘deploy between 40 and 60 people to nonprofit offices in numerous cities, offering 50,000 hours of skilled labor in fields like computer engineering, data analysis and artificial intelligence.’

    That is a HUGE effort.

    Now most people reading this don’t have anywhere near the budgets or resource to divert to similar schemes but don’t worry about what you CAN’T do, look at what you COULD do.

    You might raise funds for a charity directly or help them to raise funds by providing volunteers for instance. If you are expert in something, such as photography or video, could you help them get their message across that way?

    I work with Forever Stars, the stillbirth and child bereavement charity and this year will be donating a percentage of my fees for each press release I write to them, whilst supporting their media efforts at the same time.

    Within that, I will be profiling the businesses and people who help the charity with their free time, with events, fundraising, donations and in all manner of other ways.

    If I came into your business right now, one of the first questions I would ask is what good causes you support or are thinking about supporting.

    I do not do this to try and curry favour in the media, although it is a fantastic way to gain positive PR. I do it because it starts out as an internal marketing campaign, a way to create and foster a positive culture within an organisation.

    So if you aren’t doing something already, have a think about what you could be doing or better still, ask your team. Someone will be hugely keen to support something and will most likely want to take the lead and run the project for you.

    Your job is to give them the tools and resources to help them help others.

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  • There’s a Hole in Your Bucket Dear Liza

    Jan 16 • General business, Other • 98 Views

    OK, so you’re not Liza BUT I’m about to save you a fortune on wasted marketing anyway.

    All you need to do is find the holes in your bucket which sounds simple but after a number of similar different experiences in the last month, maybe it isn’t.

    In the last month I have sourced quotes for a bathroom tiling project along with many other bits and bobs.

    My wife and I scoured Trusted Trader, found some good reviews and asked for quotes. Two different people got back to us. Great marketing.

    However, neither of them showed up.

    What a waste of time, effort and marketing investment.

    They’ve got zero chance of being asked to quote again and if a friend asked me for a recommendation I would tell them to run a mile. They had Facebook pages, not great but they were there.

    We checked them. Again, that effort is totally wasted but they can’t blame their marketing for that.

    Eventually we went old school and I checked the local Post Office window. We were in luck. I dropped a text to the chap and then and he replied immediately, even offering to come over there and then. On a Saturday.

    Talk about impressed.

    We arranged to meet on Monday. He was 10 minutes late which did worry me as he didn’t warn me of this which would have been courteous, never mind sensible for a trader seeking to quote for a job.

    Anyway, he arrived and was very polite and professional. He even gave me ideas on how to save money rather than waste it. There’s a theme here folks.

    We agreed to a schedule just after Christmas which was even more impressive, especially as he said he was starting a corporate job in the new year so wanted to get this done and dusted for us pronto.

    Altogether now…’Oh it’s all gone quiet over there.’

    Then it went a bit quiet.

    Very quiet.

    I chased him to check he was STILL coming over the next day. Silence and then…an excuse about family illness and that no, he couldn’t make it.

    That’s fine. We’ve all been there and it is awful. I asked him for when he could pop over, it was only a day’s work according to him.

    Silence again.

    Well, it turns out he couldn’t make it at all and that he was starting his new job soon so he can’t do it now but he does have a mate who might be able to help.

    If you think I was going to call his mate who ‘might’ be able to help you’d be wrong. I associate his mate with him and his professionalism, or lack thereof.

    These things happen but all he had to do was to tell me proactively. Then I’d have been tempted to call his mate IF he had already set it up for me, which would have made sense.

    ‘Sorry Greg, I can’t but Gary is a specialist and I’ve briefed him. Same cost and he’s available to help you’.

    I didn’t reply.

    I have since gone out to a national outfit who have bigger marketing pockets and better systems. They actually paid NOTHING to get my work other than the investment in their branding over the years.

    What a wasted opportunity for the local tradesman.

    Now, just think to yourself before you invest in an awareness campaign, do you want the leads it might bring? Do you have capacity? Do you have the skills?

    If you can’t, it is no problem at all. You can tweak your marketing message to make sure it fits your skills or hold back on your campaign until you can do the work.

    Just don’t blame your marketing campaign if you don’t convert open goals and don’t pour marketing budgets into leaking buckets.

    Fix the holes first dear Henry.

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  • Tight swimming trunks and goal setting – let’s be brief

    Dec 19 • Uncategorized • 241 Views

    I am a member of a well known health club, which, due to its location, tends to include a fair few famous faces – typically footballers and cricketers but also a former undisputed super middle weight boxing champion.
    He’s getting very good at tennis and has a volley with real venom.
    This is because he’s decided he wants to be good at tennis and he practices. 
    A lot.
    Now, I was in the gym yesterday doing some ‘on the business’ work, reflecting on the year and working out how I can be just that bit better again next year in my business and personal life.
    I do this every quarter, examining current goals and setting new ones, bite-sized markers that help me to my bigger picture. This stuff really doesn’t work that well if you just do it on December 31st after a few too many sherries.
    Anyway, this former champion was preparing to go onto court as I was setting my fitness and health goals and these include swimming.
    There’s no time like the present I reasoned so I headed off to buy some snazzy new swimming shorts. New gear and gadgets always motivate me.
    The problem was, the only shorts available were, well…a little ‘ambitious’ size wise. They were the shorts I should be wearing AFTER I have been swimming for about a month.
    Maybe 2 months.
    Here was a lovely excuse to not bother with the idea and put off the fitness goal for another day. Start in January, once I’m totally ready, with the correct shorts.
    But I didn’t do that. I bought the shorts and went for a swim.
    They weren’t THAT bad size wise, a bit of breath holding along the poolside catwalk would see me safely under the water with nobody any the wiser.
    They were however pinching a tad and I knew I was pushing it a bit.
    But that’s the point with goals. They are very easy to put off, to make too easy, to vaguely promise to start working towards in January once you’ve got everything perfect.
    They are also far easier to attain if you have a visual cue, whether that’s a picture on the fridge, a sales brochure of a car or a house or some shorts that make you think twice about ordering pizza this evening.
    Or ever again.
    So as you reflect on 2018 and plan ahead for 2019, whether your goals are business related such as getting more press coverage (call Greg) or personal such as health and fitness, don’t be afraid if they pinch a bit.
    Don’t put them off either. In fact, don’t wait until you get back in January, get a head start now. 
    In 2019, think a little bit big bigger, be a little bit bolder. 
    There’s a reason they call them ‘stretch goals’ you know.

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