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More rants about acknowledgement

Right then, it was last week that I started this, and I have just been prompted to rant some more.

I was banging on about how abusive use of direct mail by so many businesses in this country has turned it from a successful business model into a plague and a menace.

I think that fact is largely responsible for the fact that as a nation we rarely respond to anything any ore.

If something doesn’t demand a response – like “tell me no or I will definitely take the money from your account” type of message, it seems that generally folk just can’t be bothered.

Mind you, some of that comes down to language. If you end an invitation with words like “Tell us if you can make it” then you’re asking not to be told when people can’t make it, but then also left hanging not really sure whether folk will arrive or not.

This whole rant started when I did some work for a big company recently.

I slaved away at it, crafting a piece to ensure that it was just right, after all, I stood to make a decent amount of money and maybe find a route to earning a bit on the side to top up the pension.

I duly sent it in and waited in eager anticipation of their comments.

And then waited in slightly frustrated anticipation.

And then after a week I actually rang and asked if they even received it – and just received a cursory brush off and the comment just send us the bill.

I suppose that was the go ahead, and I should be grateful, but I was too annoyed to ask if there was anything else I could do.

I guess that’s old man talking to young person who holds the budget. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

London how I love you!

I could never live in London again, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the place.

I think the constant noise, throng and costs would drive me to distraction if I tried to move back, I’m rather senior these days after all, but I love a short break.

We have just been staying at The Jesmond Dene Hotel which is where we often go as it’s a good price and so convenient. You can just wheel your bags across from St Pancras or Kings Cross and then walk everywhere. The walking can get knackering and next time I’ll take my wonderful bus pass, but this time around we had allowed ourselves a generous budget, so rather than make do with sandwiches we ate in cafes and restaurants as and when we fancied it. You can get so tired if you don’t stop and eat often enough.

lichtenstein

I particularly wanted to go to the Lichenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern. It makes me laugh when people look at me and wonder why an old geezer would be interested in pop art – well Lichenstein himself is a lot older than me!

I don’t care though. It’s fun to show the kids that I know more about the stuff they may be studying than they do themselves!

The price of beer always comes up after I’ve been to London, and this time I was pleasantly surprised. I actually reckon I didn’t pay more than 20p a pint more than I would have done in the north. I did drink in some dodgy dives though!

 

Is acknowledgement too much to ask for these days?

I’m old enough to remember all those years ago when direct marketing was in its infancy and many people would respond to a letter even to politely thank the seller for their consideration, and to say that their offer wasn’t required at that time.

People would then keep much of the direct mail they received behind the mantle clock, in case they might need the product at a later date.

Not surprisingly direct marketing was hugely successful back then.

One of the master figures of direct marketing, a real life Mad Mad fellow called David Ogilvy could spend days crafting a letter, and test several versions.

Ogilvy’s agency still thrives www.ogilvy.com although it has had various different names over the years.

They’d be long letters, but that didn’t matter, because every word was relevant. But they might also be used to sell seriously expensive products – such as a Rolls Royce. One of his famous direct adverts of the 60’s was a long copy piece telling you that at 60mph the loudest sound in the car was the ticking of the clock. Wow!

As with any success story the principle was milked, weakened and abused.

We were bombarded by DM as even conversion rates of 0.1% sill meant that many products were worth selling using the medium. But of course that meant that you were selling to one person in a thousand. What impact did that have for your brand on the other 999? MOst didn’t care probably, but some of them would have been pissed off – meaning that you were spending money to piss off potential buyers.

Insane!

Actually, I’m warming to this topic, but I haven’t even got to the crunch point yet. I think I’ll carry on tomorrow as I think that the failings of communication between folk today stem from the excesses of the 80s and 90s when we were practically taught, or driven, to ignore communications from people.

Loyalty.

Loyalty is a strange concept.

Loyalty to your friends? Loyalty to family?

Which matters most?

There are of course people in your family who you have chosen – and therefore they are hopefully both your family and friends.

But  parents? Aunts, uncles?

And to what point? How big a test do we need before we cave in and back down.

There was an old boy on the radio this morning, talking about his fighting in the Korean war, I think that was late 50’s.

He was talking about a mate being shot down, and how he went to get him, then ended up getting his arm blown off. I wonder how much of the courage he showed that day would have been there if he had the chance to reflect on the danger. Are great acts of courage acts of loyalty, or driven by adrenaline.

Should you be loyal to a company?

Especially knowing that when the time comes to make cuts it is unlikely that loyalty will feature in anything but the size of the payoff they hopefully give you.

I’d like to keep this concept in mind and share it in type at least over coming posts. But trouble is my posting is a tad erratic at the moment, I do try to keep to every few days – but I’m just not loyal enough to the cause!

Wise guy?

So I’ve set myself up as a bit of a wise guy – that’s always going to be dangerous, you’re always going to have a fall. But it’s all just jest anyway.

I was destined for such a fall when one of the lads down the road came to ask for some help with his homework. He calls me uncle, but in actual fact it’s just because I’m good mates with his dad. I don’t have any real relationship to him. Anyway his subject was social anthropology, and while I have no knowledge of the topic as a study, I though that I’d be able to help just on the strength of my interest in people and people systems, what makes us tick and the like.

But I was stumped straight away by the terminology the questions were using – I had views, but I just had no idea of how to express them. I did some on line searching and didn’t find anything that’d help until I came across something called Marked By Teachers where you can buy essay examples. What a genius idea – I wish there was something like that around when we were at school.

Although having said that I guess there was, it was just that it wasn’t online and the bigger truth was that I just didn’t pay attention to very much anyway. How cruel is it that learning just didn’t seem interesting when it was free, and close to essential, whereas now that I do it just to stay interested in the world it is somehow fascinating.

Anyway I saved face with the lad, which was most important.

Birmingham. Beers. And silliness.

Oh my lordy, why do I never learn.

Yesterday was a brilliaant afternoon.

I caught the train down to Brum and got there at about 12.30.

Blimey it was busy!

Walking up through town was good. I worked there many years ago and still have a real love for the place, the silly accent, and jolly outlook.

The lads – all of us old timers now, were meeting in O’Neills on Broad Street which is the dreadful clubbing street that every big town has.

Beer at just past noon isn’t my scene, but the first one slipped down well, as did the second, third, and many more.

There were a group of Irish lads behind us drinking funny looking drinks from funny looking glasses like this: (hopefully I’ll remember to pop the photo in here when I can find my phone again).

So being the daft old farts that we are I went to the bar and said – we’ll have four of what they’re drinking. I’m probably the oldest person the girl has ever sold a VRB, or vodka red bull as I now know its called, to.

They just slipped down our throats. As did the next ones and the ones after that. Yet, miraculously we didn’t. I guess it was the intense conversation that kept us going as I reckon I feel asleep within minutes of sitting on the train home.

I didn’t feel too great today – but then it is a long while since I’ve had 7 pints, and I have never had four VRBs!

Early morning beard growth

Did I say that I’d started growing my beard again?

Much to the disgust of my ever suffering wife, Mrs B, I stopped the silly habit of the daily scrape at Easter and now have a semblance of a beard again.

So good to stroke and to add depth to your words of wisdom.

I reckon that a good growth is going to take six months, by then I’ll be looking like a proper fisherman again. Not that I have ever caught a fish in my life of course, But let’s not go splitting hairs – split ends on your beard isn’t going to be a pleasant thing!

It’s a beautiful morning, but I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d just sit here for a bit and see what fingers and keyboard could come up with.

I’m off to Birmingham later to meet some of the team I worked with last time I did office work – that was years ago, but every now and then we hook up on the dreadful Broad Street, drink too many drinks, then all stagger off vowing to make it an annual event. I think the last one was four years ago!

 

Youth. Age. Life.

Bee Beard gets more of a philosopher as he ages.

The trouble is that the older you get, the fewer people listen to you, even though your words are more considered.

I thought I’d have a personal debate on the phrase of youth being wasted on the young.

Funny that phrase.

And I understand it fully.
But I like the way ageing all works out, well, so far anyway.
I love that destructive intensity of youth, the angst and paranoia, balanced by obsessive, almost religious love of the things that matter.
Mine lasted way into my thirties, and still resurfaces in a way that is both scary and exciting.
When you start to slow down a bit you have more time to notice that what’s around you, even close by, is so valuable, beautiful even.
Valuing the old, noticing the emerging buds, really feeling the sunshine, maybe even driving under the speed limit and realising that actually it can be a joy.
Then of course the shit kicks in, and for a time your whole being is focussed on just dragging yourself through it.
Hopefully as a consequence the next high is higher.
Of course with no kids and just a few ego driven corporates to keep happy it is easier for me to step back and consider life in this way.
And I have to admit I rather enjoy it. And smile when you shoot a theory down in honest real flames.
Up my own arse? Why would I change? That’s the power of the beard.

Good Friday

Do you know that in all my years I still don’t understand what is good about Good Friday!

I was brought up in a religious family, but didn’t really get involved in the whole church thing, and stopped going as soon as I had the chance, I guess that must have been when I was about 15. I still have great respect for religion though and believe that society is a worse place without it.

I kind of like that Alain de Botton fellow’s idea of Religion for Atheists, which I understand to be a code of values to live your life by, without the principle of there being a central God figure.

That’s the good bit of religion isn’t it? That whole thing of a moral code and the fear of punishment or recrimination if you get it wrong.

But anyway I’m going off at a tangent here.

What I wanted to ask was What is good about Good Friday?

If Christ was our saviour and son of God, but the poor fellow was crucified on the day then I can’t see the good in it.

Easter Monday and celebrating his resurrection is cool with me.

Commemorating his death is OK too. Actually, I can’t remember what happened to him after all that.

As a slight but necessary digression from a topic I introduced but don’t understand – I have just realised that the cherry trees are going to be in blossom for Easter. How lovely.

 

A bit of writing work

For years I worked as a writer, freelance, taking on all sorts of business challenges, whether it was marketing work, online copy or business case drafting, and now and then someone will ask me to do something for them still. I’m delighted as i enjoy locking myself away with an issue to ponder, usually then sharing a few thoughts with my client before firing up the keyboard.

This week the tables turned a little when the guy who was briefing me on a grant submission that he needed writing started talking around his subject. It soon became evident that his business was in good shape in that he had plenty of work going through the books, but his problem was that people weren’t paying his invoices quickly enough. He didn’t have the time to chase them and he could see a cash flow problem hitting him within a few weeks that would threaten to cause him a number of problems, not least of which was with the bank.

This was great for me as I also do some bits and pieces for an invoice finance business and so I was able to introduce two clients – one to the other. Invoice finance brokers are in business to help with just such problems and they’ll effectively buy your invoices off the business giving you an immediate injection of cash to the business. It’s straight forward stuff really, but if you don’t know about it then you’re unlikely to find out unless you happen to have a chat like the one we were having.

And of course the other great thing there is that I’m more likely to get paid on time too!