Let’s face it ….


A poem that has been around for some time already, but I came across it again today while attempting to tidy up my desk. Made me chuckle. Hope it will do the same for you.

The English Language

Let’s face it.

English is an odd language.

There is no egg in eggplant

No ham in hamburger

And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.

English muffins were not invented in England

French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted

But if we examine its paradoxes we find that

Quicksand takes you down slowly

Boxing rings are square

And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.


If writers write, how come fingers don’t fing?

If the plural of tooth is teeth

Shouldn’t the plural of phone booth be phone teeth?

If the teacher taught

Why didn’t the preacher praught?


If a vegetarian eats vegetables

What the heck does a humanitarian eat?


When the stars are out they are visible

But when the lights are out they are invisible

And why is it that when I wind up my watch

It starts?

But when I wind up this poem

It ends.



‘Brevity is the sister of talent’

That’s a quote by Checkov that I stumbled across the other day.

It was a gentle nudge to keep focused on the message that needed to be communicated.

To read and re-read what I write.

And scrap every superfluous word.

So that’s what I did.


Why briefs should not be brief

Good work comes from good briefs – and vice versa. In fact, when something fails you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s got nothing to do with failing on creative solutions, but it’s because the brief hasn’t been what it should have been. A good brief is essential to success, whether you are writing yourself or getting someone else to do it for you. Here’s eleven questions that, when answered, will tell you what needs to be said. You’ll only have to figure out how to say it.

The secret weapon to success – the briefing template



  • The rationale. Why you want to do this, where it fits into what else you’re doing and what’s happening in the market.
  • The profit margin. How much you can afford to pay to get a sale or enquiry?
  • How is this sold now? What is the process?
  • Any examples or news about previous efforts – with results.
  • Anything you think you’re doing, right or wrong.
  • Any thoughts or ideas you have.


Product or service

  • Please describe the product or service. Try to explain what it does for the prospect as opposed to what it is.
  • Highlight anything unique and any ways in which it is different, better or worse than what your competitors or alternatives offer.



  • Please describe the perfect prospect. If there is more than one person involved in making the decision say who they are.
  • Also, describe their motivations, especially any emotional ones like “I don’t want to make a mistake” or “I’d like to be a hero”.
  • What relationship do they have with you?
  • Have they heard from you before?
  • What was their reaction, if any?



  • What the proposition is and details of any offer/incentive
  • What we want them to know and feel



  • What do you want them to do?
  • How close to a sale do you want to get them? Weak enquiry or strong? Free trial? See a demonstration?


Why act?

  • Why should they reply? Please list as many reasons as possible, appealing to emotion and reason
  • Why not
  • What objections could they raise? And how would you respond to them?


Creative Requirements

  • Please include any restrictions (e.g. black and white, no images, personalisation etc)
  • If it is a mailing, they should refer to each item in the pack.
  • Also, please include details of any copy variations required (if targeting different segments) and practical things, like tel. numbers and ref codes.


Other information

Please add:

  • Relevant research
  • Testimonials
  • Sales material
  • Media comment
  • Independent statistics or research
  • Anything which helps in understanding the product or the audience
  • Deadlines
  • Ideas
  • First Draft (copy and layout):
  • Final artwork



Getting to the dot …. or point

OK….now try and find the 12 dots. Found them? So, you know they’re all there, but it’s impossible to see then at one glance. Why? Because we humans have a limited peripheral vision.

That means that means that if we focus on one dot, we can’t see the ones on the side. It’s an optical illusion that has been keeping many people busy recently. In fact, it’s been driving them nuts that they can’t see all dots at once.

Which got me thinking: pity there isn’t something similar out there regarding business reports. Those lengthy ones. Which are lengthy because someone (or everyone) is afraid to leave out one or more points.

This wonderful picture shows that the clearest point is the one that is in the centre of our vision or attention. The more obvious, the more likely we’ll notice it. The other dots simply don’t count at that moment.

So: Get to the point and nail it!


Storyteller or story seller?


I like this photo. It reminds me that it isn’t just an inanimate screen that I’m telling my stories to, but real flesh and blood people who want to be moved by a story.

It came to mind when somebody recently said: “In fact when you’re writing for companies so that their stuff gets sold, you can’t still be serious that you’re a storyteller. You’re nothing more than a story seller.” I dare to disagree with this friend.

The thing is: whatever you do, you can’t fool the audience. Like flies to honey, people are always eager to hear what you have to tell. But, if expectations aren’t met or if the story isn’t genuine – if they can’t connect – it’s just a matter of time till you lose your audience.

Yes, stories might move people to buy something, but only if the story means something to them. Only if the story is told in such a way that it brings about a change that will move people to act.

Good storytellers, don’t need to sell anything. The effect of the story does it for them.




Are you keeping your audience tuned in?

Vocabulary is one of the key drivers for keeping people tuned in to what you’re trying to communicate. But, vocabulary can also be one of the major pitfalls of communication. Because, when a word doesn’t mean anything, when it’s a random placeholder, the easiest thing to do is fail to understand it, forever. And then there’s no recovery. Then you’ve lost your audience.

What is your vocabulary?

Of course, every industry has it’s own particular jargon. It’s own vocabulary. Some of it serves a purpose, a whole lot of it is probably just of the ‘placeholder’ type. You might like to think it helps get your information across. Well think again! It’s probably doing just the opposite and fuzzing things up.

Check and double check

Of course the biggest danger lies in the fact that you get so used to hearing your own vocabulary that it becomes really difficult to sift out the stuff that weakens your message instead of strengthening it. Check what you’ve written and keep asking yourself the question: do people know what you’re talking about? Is your vocabulary a strong or a weak one? Are people tuning in to your story? Are your words making the difference?