Sell people problems

At a painful business networking breakfast a while ago the chosen speaker gave us his definitive guide to killer marketing emails (( it was probably a five point plan, they tend to be ))

This five point plan (( told you )) took us through empathy

Are you a terribly important and interesting person? (( it may have been more subtle than this ))

He proposed we ask.

Why yes, yes I am

Our reader would find themselves subconsciously thinking.

Are you in the business of making and selling widgets? (( a friend recently mocked my for my constant use of the term widget in this context. I invited him to find an alternative. I continue to use the term widgets. ))


Why yes I am

They would think.

At this point we have hooked them and we can move on to the next, crucial stage.

Your business is about to go bankrupt. Because of the:

– scary IT thing you do not understand

– terrifying tax thing you do not understand

– stupefying legal thing you do not understand (( delete as appropriate. obv ))

By this point our reader is panicking.

What will I do?

they fret

I’m about to go bankrupt because I don’t understand the scary IT / tax / legal thing

And then you strike

I represent the foremost expert in the field of IT / tax / law and we are prepared, for an appropriate fee, to stop you going bankrupt.

The sense of relief in our reader is palpable.

Call us now (( there’s got to be a call to action otherwise people drift off elsewhere, they’re like sheep you see, successful business people ))


There is a problem with the five point plan to writing a marketing newsletter and it is this: most people will scan it and think

Oh that’s just a thing about IT / tax / some legal mumbo jumbo

And chuck it away.

Because they don’t know that they have a problem.

People don’t buy problems.

If your business relies on convincing people they have a problem so that you can sell them the solution (even if they do have a solution) then you don’t have a business.

Welcome to the club (( try selling social media risk management when everyone else was just trying to sell social media. No don’t )).


The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett: a good read but who is it for?

I was minding my business the other day on Twitter when I recieved a DM from an unusual source. A chap called Jamie Bartlett.

He works for Demos.

He does not normally DM me.

In fact we’ve only met once (when I interviewed him for an event blog for the British APCO conference a few years ago (cos that’s how I roll)).

I occasionally point people to him because his work at Demos is often relevant to my world.

“My new book is available on Amazon”

he said

“given your line of business you might want to read it”.

Showing the negotiation skills for which I am justly famed I did not ask for a free copy in return for a review. Instead I purchased a copy of The Dark Net with my own money.

It’s a surprisingly good read (considering the subject matter). In fact it is sometimes laugh out loud funny.

He plays pretty fast and lose with what constitutes “The Dark Net” but I’m not a purist so that didn’t bother me.

He uses real people to lead us into the less explored areas of the net and he doesn’t hang about. It’s a whistle-stop tour and not technical and not too academic. I got through it in a couple of sittings and was never bored.

I don’t really know who it’s for though.

I think the average geek with any interest in this stuff will find few big surprises though I’m sure some of the details will be new (who knew how the CamGirls business model stacks up for example?).

I think people with less of a technical grounding will probably get more out of this book. But they might find it frustrating that Jamie is just telling them how it is. There are no suggestions about what this might mean for professionals or parents (for example). That’s not a complaint, it’s not what the book is for.

It could be the most eccentric Christmas present you buy for a loved one this year though.