Tag Archives: Advertising

Obsess about the content not about the shade of blue

Should we stick rigidly to brand guidelines? Should we obsess about them? I used to think so.

My first marketing manager once called me into his office and pointed at two identical blue brochures lying on his desk. I had been responsible for getting them printed by two separate print shops.

“What the hell do you call this?” he snarled.

I put on a great impression of looking totally confused. The two brochures looked well produced and exactly the same to me.

“The two shades of blue are different. They are supposed to be the same,” he said. I dared to say I thought they looked identical so he produced a printer’s magnifying glass. These gadgets let you see the millions of dots that make up the colours on a page. When I looked through the glass, even at the microscopic level, the colours looked the same.

Obsess about the content

“It’s a disgrace get Printer#1 to do the job again and make sure they bloody well get it right.”

I left wondering whether any customer would either notice or care about the imaginary colour difference. But he was the boss and I did what I was told.

Over the years other bosses have waved brand guidelines books at me and insisted on similar correction of non-existent mistakes. Actually some haven’t been able to wave them at me because the “bibles” were to big and heavy and needed to be fork-lifted around.

Inside the rules are spelled out. Which colours you can use. What font. How much space in millimetres that you must leave, under pain of death, between the brand logo and anything else that appears on the page or screen.

Then after many years I learned another much more important lesson. I was watching colleagues debating about the colours and the position of the graphics on a promotional flyer.

Then it hit me. The headline they had was a dud. The copy sucked. And yet the guys were more worried about the colours and the graphics.


Because they had probably had their own “printer’s magnifying glass moment”
sometime in their career.

Obsess about the content, the headline, the messages and the call to action.

You won’t find me giving anyone who I work with any such lessons in trying to find a millionth of a difference in the colour of a booklet.

I tell them brand guidelines are important. Of course they are. But they are just guidelines. Guidelines don’t sell products or engage customers.

obsess about the content

In the digital world we have to act fast. You might see an opportunity at 9am and need to get an email, or advert, video or pod-cast out by 11am. You can spend that long arguing about colours and positions.

Don’t obsess about the shade of blue, obsess about the headline and the content. That’s what is going to have your customers clicking or watching or replying.

Or buying.

Over to you: I know loads of brand marketers will disagree with me on this. The rules are the rules right? All I’m saying is have some flexibility and worry more about your message. If the message is strong your customer won’t worry about the colours. Do you agree? Please leave a comment and let me know. Or click here to tweet about this post.

Getting Found – the difference between inbound and outbound marketing

Since the 1950s big brands got big by bombarding us with adverts. Most advertising was, and still is, a form of interruption. They interrupt the film you are watching or the article you are reading and try and divert your attention to their product. The point being to create a desire in you that grabs your interest and, they hope, a purchase.

It can get quite annoying can’t it? There you are watching a great film or drama. Just as you get to a tense part of the story the bloody Go Compare Opera Singer interrupts the kiss or the battle. Or you are reading a great article in a magazine and when you turn the page it is a double page spread for a product you don’t want rather the rest of what you wanted to read.

Email marketing is similarly intrusive especially of you haven’t subscribed to a list. It is electronic cold calling. I get about 15 emails a day from companies telling me I can claim compensation for being ripped off by PPI insurance. I’ve never had it and yet I am pestered by companies that are surely just as despicable as the sellers of PPI. In case you don’t know, if you were sold PPI you can get a refund for free. You don’t need one of these horrible claims companies. And you definitely don’t have to pay them a fee.

Difference between inbound and outbound marketing

The world has changed for the marketer. Thanks to the digital world outbound (interruption) marketing is much tougher. People can use a remote control to fast forward through the Go Compare Opera singer or whichever brand is making a play for this year’s most annoying advert award. Spam filters can snare and discard a whole heap of PPI claims companies, manhood enlarging devices and links to illicit dating sites. The customer is more in control then ever. They can shut the marketers out.

Does this brave new world worry me? No because it means that finally we marketers have to produce stuff that people actually want to consume. Articles, videos, podcasts, ebooks, info-graphics that answer their questions. This is inbound marketing. Instead of interrupting and annoying our customers we need stuff they come looking for. Stuff that answers their questions. If your stuff answers the questions that your customers are asking, and you make sure it ranks in the search engines then people will come and find you. Because 90% of all transactions start with a Google search these days.

difference between inbound and outbound marketing

Now Grandnat’s blog is mainly about my passion for fitness, Yoga and travel. But it also let’s me explore my fascination with new marketing techniques. Some of which I have taken back into my day job.

Inbound marketing works. I get found. Here’s an example. I did a bit of research that suggested that one of the most common questions people ask about Yoga is, “How long will it take to get flexible by doing yoga?” I wrote a blog post answering this question and optimised it for search.

And do you know what? My daily site stats tell me that people do indeed type in this question and now they come to my blog to get the answer. It works. And I didn’t spend millions on an annoying fat guy pretending to sing opera to get found.

Over to you: I’d love to hear your experiences of promoting your business with inbound or content marketing. There are many people I admire already doing it – I love their videos and blogs and podcasts. Others are finding their way. Get in touch or leave a comment and tell me more.