Tag Archives: marketing

Trinkets of Deceit

“Do not put your faith in such trinkets of deceit!”

Dracula – Bram Stoker

I think I have covered my youthful ambition to be a history teacher before. I may even have admitted that I really wanted to be a University lecturer but was trying not to show off. As I sit here, surrounded by chaos, I reflect that if I had become a lecturer, this would be a perfectly acceptable way to organise my workspace.

I think it’s high time that someone wrote a book on marketing and the Nazi party. This thought first came to mind when I saw a young man strutting up and down in a  military collectors’ shop admiring his reflection in a display case as he held a Nazi dagger at his hip.

This was, to be accurate, my third thought. The first was that I’d like to slap some sense into him and the second was that he needed a psychiatrist.

The Romans knew a bit about pageantry and psychology, with their Triumphs and circuses. Napoleon knew some too – “You call these medals and ribbons baubles; well it is with such baubles that men are led.”

The Nazis, with their reliance on mythology, medals and regalia, were just treading an old path, but they did it well. The rest, as they say, is history.

I looked a long time to find a balanced article about it, because people tend to have strong views on the Nazis. It’s tricky, but the lesson I draw from it is that the heraldry of the Nazi party still draws people in.

It’s interesting to draw a parallel between the building of the Nazi Party and the modern marketing industry, and how the techniques of the modern industry were foreshadowed by the Nazis. We’ve had books on leadership that purport to be written by Attila the Hun, Henry V and Jean-Luc Picard, how about  marketing book written in the character of Josef Goebbels? If you can make that popular, you really would be performing marketing at a high level.

Remember, when thinking about the Nazis that Milgram’s experiments proved that the German’s weren’t the only people who would follow orders even though it caused great distress to others The Stanford Prison Experiments not only showed that groups would band together, but pointed the way to later events.

We are not the civilised people that we like to think we are. In fact, when you look at modern politics we may actually be in a worse position as our minds are poisoned by a bombardment of false news.

Just one more example before I go. In 1919 the Allied Powers imposed a damaging and humiliating peace settlement on Germany and the Central Powers. This gave the Germans something to unite against. Alex Ferguson, in making Manchester United one of the most successful teams in British football history, used the same technique. He also used the technique of refusing to speak to the Press because they were all against him.

Does that sound familiar?

The Flying Scotsman

I spent a lot of the day loading a set of Flying Scotsman medallions. They are interesting things – five in silver and one in 9 carat gold. Technically they are three sets, but we’ve put them all together to get them all away at the same time.

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The six medallions

The pads in the box are actually black but the camera sometimes does strange things. And the boxes are square.

The story of the Flying Scotsman is full of interest, with World Records, grand obsessions and a host of sub-plots. If you follow the link in the first line you will get a good idea of the adventures it has had.

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A piece of Flying Scotsman in the middle of a silver medallion – if you read what was replaced in the pre-2016 refit you will appreciate how many spare bits they had.

The gold medal is a very pleasant medal, though it does lack a piece of the original train. A few months ago we had some silver coins with pieces of copper from HMS Victory. It’s not a new idea, somewhere in the house I have a medal cast from the lead of Selby Abbey roof. After the 1906 fire they made the medallions and sold them in aid of the rebuilding. (Readers from the USA may be interested to note the picture of the Washington family coat of arms if they follow this link).

You can also learn a lot about marketing if you study the way these things are sold.

 

It was an interesting afternoon. I was tempted to write more about it on eBay, but I’m paid to sell, not to write. It’s here if you want to read more.

A Tale of Two Burgers

On Monday, after working half a day, I took Julia to lunch at Harvester. That’s the sort of man I am – tight, unromantic and practical. You get free salad at Harvester, which appeals to my frugal side, and allows me to pretend I’m being healthy.

Julia had the Spicy Sea Bass with Prawns, which looked as good as it sounded. Unfortunately it’s fish and as such it’s just nicely presented cotton wool with overtones of slime and bones. As you may guess, I’m not a fish fan, unless it’s in a nice crispy batter or neatly sliced into finger-sized pieces.

Despite my views, she enjoyed it and tells me it was delicious, well-cooked and full of flavour.

I had the classic burger. They refer to it as a “craft” burger. I’m not sure why, because it’s just a burger. It looks like “craft” has migrated from craftsmen, to craft beers to relatively ordinary food. What next, craft sandwiches? To add to the weight of marketing verbiage, the “craft” burger is served in a toasted brioche bun.

I’m not greatly in favour of toasted brioche buns. I don’t really like the shiny brown look of them and though they are better than the normal flaccid “burger bun” with quick release sesame seeds I don’t think they’re much to brag about.

Add a dryish burger and though it was good it wasn’t quite as good as the hype and I was reminded of my old school reports – “could do better”.

Part 2 follows later.

(And yes, it would be good to have a photo, but I forgot. Sorry.)

RIP 8,715 trees

We’ve just had a letter from our electricity supplier telling us how we could have saved money by signing up to a fixed-price deal or paying by monthly direct debit. It’s very kind of them to go to the trouble of doing this, though there is, of course, a suspicion at the back of my mind, that the letter isn’t really for our benefit.

A thought crosses my mind at this point. If they send one letter a year to their 33 million customers (I take this figure from Eon’s Wikipedia entry) and if each letter costs 50p (for ease of calculation) that costs £16.5 million. Sounds like a lot of money. They could do a lot with that money.

But…

From 2006-10 their sponsorship of the FA Cup (including the Women’s and Youth Cups) cost them £40 million.  They spent money on other sports-related sponsorship too, but that’s the only one that has a figure attached on Wiki.

The question is, did this make them any money? I don’t know about you but “What sports do they sponsor?” isn’t top of my list when selecting an energy supplier.

Similarly, they spent around £28 million on supporting the Museum next to their corporate HQ over the years 1998 – 2014.

Again, it wouldn’t really influence me in my choice of supplier. I might feel good about indirectly supporting a museum, but it would come a long way after price and green credentials.

It may be that sponsorship pays its way. It may be that sponsorship is just a massive vanity project.

The only thing I do know for sure is that if they sent out one less letter per customer per year they could probably pay for all the sponsorship, and save 8,715 trees a year.

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Woodland – Rufford Park

(I calculated the tree usage from this website).

Continue reading

Chickens, chintz and a confederacy of dunces

It’s been hot, and the poultry and the polytunnels have both needed a lot of water. So did I by the time I’d spent the best part of twenty minutes in the tunnels.

However, I did get a reasonable picture of an angle shades moth, as featured in the opening picture. We had one about two years ago. It was blown onto a table outside while I was having a drink on a blustery day, clung on for a few minutes to allow me to take a blurred picture, and then flew away at high speed as the wind took it again.

This one was more leisurely.

We’ve had an attack of chintz in the cafe, which is starting to resemble my memories of my grandmother’s front room. Apart from the piles of sugary snacks and the juice drinks, and the notices. Looks like we’re having a turf war again, as all my pizza ingredients and the emergency gluten free bases have all been moved to the ice cream freezer. Apart from the notice banning me from the fridge freezer I’ve had another one ordering me not to move anything round.

I’ve also had to move out of the store cupboard I was using so they could fit an extra table in.

Jonathan Swift wrote: When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.

It does seem that there is a confederacy of dunces ranged against me, but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

They have a group of specially invited people coming round on Saturday to test the new look cafe. Now, I’m not a marketing genius but, as I’ve been telling them for a while, the people we need to talk to are the ones that don’t come, or the ones who come once and don’t come back. The friends who come for a chat every Saturday morning are nice people and loyal customers, but their opinions aren’t going to help us appeal to a wider customer base.

Needless to say, I haven’t been invited. It must be something I said…

We’ve had a good showing of Small Tortoiseshells in the last week or so, which is a relief as they seemed to have almost died out. There is a parasitic wasp that attacks them; it arrived from the continent some years ago and in some areas has almost wiped the Small Tortoiseshell out. We’ve also had several pairs of Painted Ladies, some silver Y moths and an upsurge of mint moths.

So far we haven’t had any hummingbird hawk moths this year but they only started to show in late August last year so there is still hope.