Category Archives: Noble Marketing

Lessons From A Stiff Door


This is the entrance door to a bistro.

What’s the easiest option for the bistro owner: fix the door so customers cam come in easily or put up a sign telling them how they should use it?

I know which option customers would choose. And we all know which option the bistro owner should avoid.

Silly mistakes like this are common in business.

Does your business serve your customers or do you mistakenly demand that they serve you?

How to Escape The Events Management Cycle of Despair

I’ve written previously about the importance of carefully selecting which business conferences to attend and – more importantly – which to avoid. With an ever-tightening squeeze on marketing budgets and mounting pressure to “do more with less”, some event management companies face tough trading months ahead.

But not every player in the conference business needs to worry. Those companies who have invested wisely in great content and sought to give their delegates a great experience before, during and after every event should have nothing to fear.

The event management cycle of despairThe guys who should be worried are those event management businesses who routinely and deliberately fail to create great experiences for their delegates. Many of these organisations find themselves in what I fondly call the “event management cycle of despair” (right) where each poorly delivered conference leads to a subsequent more depressed event, where any scope for investment in great content is gone. These conferences and seminars are typified by an excessive reliance on sponsor companies, often hawking their wares from exhibition stands and being given speakers slots and a voice in panel discussions.

For the event delegates, this is almost tolerable if entry to the event is free and they came along hoping only to gather information from vendors. But if a delegate has paid for a ticket to the event or incurred significant cost and inconvenience to be there, it’s only fair that they should be rewarded with access to non-commercial, supplier-agnostic expertise, not sold at relentlessly like a captive blank cheque.

Why do I care about this? As a professional speaker (amongst other things) I’m often asked if I can speak at an event. And so begins a well-worn process where my agent or office explain what my speaker fees will be and why. I charge fees not because I’m greedy or unreasonable but to pay the bills, grow the company and feed my family. And I ensure that every penny of that investment goes into making sure the support I give to the event is as great as I can possibly make it. You shouldn’t expect anything less from a professional speaker.

Every once in a while I give a talk for free, often for groups or causes that I consider would really value my help. My internet safety talks to parents at UK schools are an example of this, but I can only afford to give away a small amount of my time like this so have to be highly selective.

What’s the solution for event companies spinning in the cycle of despair? Invest in content and great experiences for your delegates. There are lots of great speakers who are ready to share their expertise with your delegates but you only get what you pay for, as should the delegates who come to your events. Even if some events won’t turn an immediate profit, the inclusion of great quality speakers who understand that content is king is a smart way to escape the cycle of despair and start building a loyal base or repeat customers.

And if you’re a delegate wondering which conferences or training programmes to sign up to this year, think very carefully about how to invest your time. Look for independent, experienced speakers and events that seem tailored to support your organisation’s and your personal development goals. If in doubt, drop me a note and I’ll let you know what I think.

Dan Ariely’s The Honest Truth about Dishonesty

I’ve been speaking a lot about making marketing noble, not least because if you don’t you are virtually guaranteed to be found out sooner or later in our increasingly transparent and open society.

Technology that has given us easier access to information lies at the root of this societal shift but my favourite behavioural economist (and soon to be yours) Dan Ariely has some fascinating insights into how we are often even dishonest about our honesty. And it turns out that all it may take is a few gentle reminders of our morality to nudge us towards supervising our own acts and ultimately acting more honourably.

Watch and be inspired.

Thanks to Jeremy Epstein for reminding me about this excellent talk and animated video.

And you can buy Dan’s book on this topic from Amazon.

Police Nicked for Marketing Dishonestly

If there’s one thing that gets sniffed out quickly in our social media age, it’s inauthenticity.

Deputy Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan in front of the 'seized' cars

An investigation by the Daily Record, Scotland’s best selling daily newspaper, has shown that even the Police can occasionally stoop to act dishonestly in their marketing campaigns.

When Deputy Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police posed in front of 10 high value cars, each bearing the registration plate ‘SEIZED’, it should have been a straightforward PR success story.

But the cars had not been seized by police. They were, it now transpires, merely “representative of the types of vehicles” that police had seized. They had actually been borrowed that day from a local car dealership.

In the past a media stunt like this would probably have passed off without further discussion. But with growing public demands for transparency and honesty and an expanding population of digitally-connected consumers, it’s almost inevitable that duplicity of this nature will eventually be exposed. Noble marketing is the only way forward, anything less is doomed to fail in the long run.

A Strathclyde police spokesperson has now confirmed: “The vehicles displayed were identical substitutes of some of the high-spec models seized by officers since April 2012, and were used as examples only. They were sourced from a car dealership at no cost to the force.”

Many of our police forces should be congratulated for embracing the social web and inviting dialogue with members of the public. It’s not always an easy balance, holding the public’s trust while also keeping a distance that maintains respect for the force. But the very least most people expect is honesty and fairness from the public organisations that exist to maintain them.

The arrival of the social web has made sure that there’s nowhere left to hide. If you can’t play by the rules, expect to be shown up as a cheat.

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