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“How to Lose Customers” an idiot’s guide, courtesy of The Halifax Bank

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology” – H.L. Mencken

Forgive me for trotting out one of my favourite quotations again, but it pops into my head almost every time I am screwed around by a bank.

We all know the smug wretches who run these shambolic rip-off factories are obscenely overpaid. Some were involved in the scams that led to the last economic collapse and should be in jail. But we sigh, and accept this as part of the filthy alliance between them and the politicians.

No; what really drives me crazy is their sheer incompetence. Even First Direct who get far higher marks than the others can fail – as when their fraud detectors stopped me drawing money in New York even though I had told them I would be there on certain dates.

But Halifax, who will probably be losing my business shortly, seem to be exceptionally clueless. Recently I spent a choleric few minutes when I learned my card had been declined not for a specific reason, but just because “there’s a lot more fraud about”. As a result I found I had not, as I imagined, paid for two airline tickets between New York and London.

Ask yourself this: a customer of long standing to whom you have extended up to £35,000 credit flies between those two cities 4 -5 times a year, every year. One day he uses his card to buy two more tickets.

Even assuming you have the intelligence of a 5 year old would you conclude this latest transaction was fraudulent?

(Victim shakes head and wanders off into corner sighing).


The hell with being “creative”. Try a questionnaire

Some techniques are so deceptively simple and obvious that people ignore them. They’re not “creative” enough. Well, screw “creative”. I like things that work. And questionnaires work like a charm

A while back Gail Brennan in Australia sent me a question about questionnaire responses.

Nobody knows more about this than my old colleague Andrew Boddington, one of the best direct marketers I know, so after giving my opinion, I referred her to him..

Below, after one or two comments from me, is his quick guide to what you should know about the subject.

One reason the questionnaire works so well is that it is very unthreatening.

People are often nervous when they realise you’re selling something. But they love to give you their opinions.

You just have to ask nicely and often amazingly high percentages will reply. By “amazing” I mean 50% and more.

When they do reply, this gives you an excuse to talk to them again … and again … and again.

Here is Andrew’s advice for you:

  1. People agonise over making the survey short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the questions seem ‘natural and logical’ to the reader, they will complete it, once the first few questions have been answered.
  2. If you have some questions which are more critical than others, make sure the survey has clear sections – the first with the main questions, then the next introduced with the words “You do not have to answer these, but if you do, it’ll mean x, y and z benefit…and will only take a few minutes more…”
  3. Response can be increased by a variety of details. A lot depends on the honesty in the introduction, why you are doing the survey, what is in it for the responder (altruism, sense of helping self or fellows, and maybe even the chance to win something in a free draw, as a gesture of thanks), explaining how the results will be used, and even how they can see a copy of the results (usually a simple summary).
  4. People love being asked for their opinion (‘your opinion matters to us’), so use flattery to increase participation.
  5. Make the introduction from someone they already might know and respect, rather than have no name at all. Even have it look like a letter, with a signature and photo for a touch of warmth.
  6. Much depends on the layout, the clarity of type face and typography, and the use of colours, tints and boxed sections make it look less daunting.
  7. It sounds radical, but question how much response is really needed. Statistically a lower response sample may be fine, so that the views are representative.
  8. Try a reminder mailing/emailing after the initial response has dried up from the first survey. Non-responders are not against responding, they just have busy lives, are lazy, like all human beings, so a courteous reminder will typically get half as much response again.
  9. Consider how/when the survey gets handed over, emailed or mailed. Is there a better moment, so they’ll be more disposed to take part?

To demonstrate just how powerful an imaginative questionnaire can be, I will take you back a good 25 years to when I was handling the American Express business.

One big challenge was to get people to move up from the basic green card to the more expensive gold card. I was pretty good at the copy for that – or so I thought.

It turned out I wasn’t not half as good as Steve Harrison and his art director (to my shame I can’t recall who that was). Instead of trying to beat my direct mail letters, they tried a different approach.

They put together a mailing that simply asked people – in a very appealing way – whether they wanted the Gold card or not, and why.

It slaughtered all my efforts. I think they got at least ten times more responses than me and as much as twenty times more to some files.

Of course, I was going for  sales, whilst they just wanted a response. But that initial response opened the door to lots of highly relevant follow-ups aimed at segments of the respondees; and it is relevance – “is this for me?” – not “creativity” that makes the big difference.

I have copied their idea more times than I am willing to admit. And more recently we have been busy segmenting our own list. The initial results are fascinating.


Which of these 7 silly website sins are killing your business?

Would you like 21% … 92%… even 200% more sales from your website? Then read this. Because I wager you’re missing some of these tricks. Most sites – not just a few – are guilty

However much time and money you throw at your website, or invest in SEO it’s all wasted unless you collect visitors’ details.

Most sites not merely lose sales but drive visitors away by failing to do so. I know this because I’ve been guilty myself. I’m sure I’m still not perfect.

  1. No email sign-up box?

Your website is not there for fun, decoration or to tell the world how wonderful you are.

It is there to sell.

But unless people buy what you sell on impulse very few are ready to buy right away. So if you don’t do everything you can to collect visitors’ names and email addresses, you’re crazy.

You only have to think what happens in real life.

There’s all manner of research into this, but it all comes to the same conclusion. Persistence is the key.

Years ago I read that that on average a real salesman makes the first sale after six visits. More recently I saw figures that suggested 48% of online sales come after your first two messages.

The figures will vary, of course. If what you sell is expensive or complex you can expect your first sale to come on average after months or even years.

Yet I would say nine out of ten websites make no serious effort to collects those precious names and email addresses.  Sheer insanity.

Once you have the email address you can keep talking – giving them advice and useful information. They start to trust you. To see you as an expert. To trust – and eventually buy – from you.

So make sure you have an email sign-up form. Make sure your visitors can’t miss it.

And offer something helpful so they’re more likely to sign up. A free report on something interesting, an e-newsletter, a free quote, a free catalogue, free webinar – whatever you find works best by testing.

Just adding a sign-up form can treble your profits – I’ve seen it happen.

Think of all those who would have bought from you if you’d been able to keep writing to them until they were ready.  If you think about the figures I just gave, not being able to do so is probably halving your sales.

We follow people up 197 times after we get their details because we never know when they’ll be ready to buy. It can take 3 years – and we’re not selling anything expensive

  1. Hidden contact details

Following from the above, I am simply astounded by how many websites hide their phone numbers and email addresses away where people can’t see them immediately and have to search.

It’s as though you decided to hide your shop in a back street where nobody will see it. Madness – and usually due to web designers building sites based on what they think looks good rather than what works. (And that’s exactly what so many do).

But tell me: how on earth can people get in touch with you if they have to work out how?

They’re not going to hunt around. People are incredibly imnpatient. You’ve got maybe two seconds before they give up and go elsewhere.

Your contact details must be so prominent even a child could find them. (You would do well to test this with a real child – I’m serious.)

Think it’s going too far to have your contact details appear several times on the same page?

Not at all. Just as only asking once for a response in a letter, e-mail or ad limits your response, so does only giving that address once.

  1. The wrong kind of photo – or no pictures at all

Are you using pictures on your site? Because you should.

And having the right kind of picture makes all the difference.

For God’s sake don’t use those stock images of grinning women, signposts, smirking buffoons in meetings or gawping idiots watching a presentation.

Everyone and his mother uses them – and for the most part they aren’t just unreal; they remind people of all the things they dislike about their jobs.

When you use an image everyone uses you are subliminally telling people you’re like everyone else. If so, why should anyone choose you?

Simply changing the size of an image can increase conversions by 7%. But that’s not all. What you show is immensely important.

Instead of a product shot or – please – not your premises, try your face. The conversion rate on some websites rocketed by 95% when they did just that.

Don’t forget a caption, saying something more than just your name and some inflated title. If you just say Call me on XXXXX if you have any questions that will help.

Maybe you think you need to show your products. Well, that’s fine. But try to show them in use, with a before and after if you can.

And if possible use pictures of your colleagues too. And give names. Don’t talk about “the team”. You’re not running a football club.

People like to see what results they get; and they buy from people – not corporations. The more human your site the better you’ll do.

  1. No video

The longer visitors stay on your website the greater your chance of selling or collecting their names.

Video helps. It can boost your conversions by up to 80% says eyeviewdigital.com.

The reason is simple. People are lazy. They prefer watching to reading.

Yet very few sites use video at all – and most who do use it badly.

Many don’t feature themselves. I touched on this above. But just think. If you could afford to speak to every one of your prospects face to face, your sales would go off the chart. Well, video is the next best thing.

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of Britain’s most successful financial advisory firms.

They have video interviews of fund managers on their site. Not only do the videos offer advice; they  introduce you to people who may be managing your money – thus building your belief in them.

And your videos don’t have to be slick or expensive. Ian Brodie, a marketing and sales coach I’ve worked with, uses lots of video on his site. It is his main source of new clients.

The videos are just him talking in front of a white background. Simple – and easy for you to copy. Don’t waste money having very fancy videos done by professionals. They seem less sincere.

And if you have case studies or testimonials on your site try video versions instead. People are cynical about testimonials. But this way they see real people recommending you. So much more credible.

  1. Talking features, not benefits

You visit a website looking for information and what do you find? Lots of boring stuff listing features and technical details of what’s on offer.

Sure, your widget comes in a range of attractive colours and is made of Plutonium – useful to know: but will it make me buy?

This is a common failing in copy – not just on websites. But it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. In fact it’s  often worse online because so many marketers still fail to realise a website is a sales medium.

Make sure your copy talks about the benefits of what you do. What do your visitors need from you? What problems are you solving? What makes them unhappy? Why should they choose you over your competitor?

And above all, what are the emotional benefits?

Use emotional language. No matter how techical the product, people buy on emotion.  And for God’s sake avoid corporate dead-speak and jargon. People hate it.

Focus on your headlines most. If people don’t read these, they won’t read anything else.

The right changes to a headline will increase conversions by 24%, 37% – even as much as 92%.

  1. You’re not testing

The great benefit of all online marketing is that it is incredibly quick and easy to test your messages and get more conversions and sales.

With Google’s free analytics software you see the results of changes you make almost instantly. So why wouldn’t you test?

Try putting your email sign-up box in different places. You’ll soon find the spot that works best.

Similarly, test your pictures, your headlines, your calls to action. Test the length and content of your videos. Will you get more conversions if you put a sign-up box under your video? Will you get even more if you mention the sign-up box in your video?

And what colour are the buttons you want your visitors to press? This might seem a trivial detail, but I’ve seen one colour outperform another by 21%.

You would be wise to test everything significant, and do so constantly. If you don’t your site will make the money it can and should.

Just be sure to test only one thing at a time. Otherwise you won’t know which changes made the difference.

You might protest that testing is great in theory but you don’t have time. But are you really so busy you can afford to throw away 21% more leads? Not to mention that 92% boost you could get by finding the right headline.

  1. Your site is hard to browse

The longer you can keep visitors on your site, the more likely you will sell. Make it easy for them to find what they want – and make sure there’s lots to keep them there.

But if your site is too big or confusing your visitors will give up – most likely never to return.

Ask yourself if you can cut some of your pages. Make the site easy to navigate, either using tabs or a sidebar – or both. Consider adding a search function: many people prefer this.

Remember, the advanced technology your web designers have is not in most people’s homes.

Smart record producers used to play their songs on cheap radios to see how they would sound to their customers. The same principle applies.

Test to be sure everything on the site works. And not just on the latest Macs – it has to work just as well for people at home using their kids’ PCs.

And it must work on phones and tablets. More and more people use them – in fact they have overtaken laptops.

If in doubt, keep it simple and keep flashy graphics to a minimum. The longer it takes your site to load, the more you’ll lose visitors

A PS – with a few laughs

Business is not always fun. Often it’s a downright pain

When I helped to run a big agency I always had one aim when clients came for a meeting – or I went to see them.

I wanted it to be fun. Such fun that they’d look forward to seeing me again. Can’t say I always succeeded. But I did enough to do well.

In the same way, the most important thing is to make visiting your website such a pleasure that people who go there stay there – and want to come back.

One of the most extraordinary – and profitable – websites I have ever seen is LingsCars.com. She is in a totally different business to yours, I imagine, appealing to quite different prospects.

But you can learn a hell of a lot by looking at all the ways she keeps people on that site. She uses every trick in the book. Brilliant!

Could you put something involving on your site? A quiz? A game? Something where people have to do something – to join in?

Give it some thought! And of course, I’m always here to answer questions. Drayton@DraytonBird.com




The triumph of bollocks – or how to “redefine” anything

Which worries you more? Your health? Or your health provider?

I once lived in Harley Street under a false name for seven years. This was because I owed so much to the Inland Revenue I didn’t dare show my face.

My friendly local divorce lawyer told me “I never met a doctor yet who wasn’t more interested in money than medicine.”

Later I heard that unkind joke applied to lawyers. It is not always true of either profession, I am sure. But I wager it is of medical insurers – which brings me to my experience this morning with AXA/PPP.

Though I have been their client for thirty years or more I have never called on them for anything except health check-ups. Beyond that I have simply noticed their prices have gone up a damn sight faster than the cost of living, whilst their service, if today’s experience is anything to go by, has deteriorated.

My story starts with a mistake. The estimable Kelly, my PA, booked me in to have a check-up with BUPA, not AXA/PPP. By the time I noticed this her damp derriere was plonked in a tent at some storm-drowned music festival so I couldn’t ask her why.

So I thought, what the hell, I’ll give BUPA a shot. But first I thought I’d check, so I went online. Mysteriously there was no reference to Private Health Checks on the AXA/PPP site. Just a suggestion that you can get them from your National Health doctor.

Very droll. I tried that with my doctor. Not much luck. The check was pretty cursory.

The entire reason I pay a bloody fortune to AXA/PPP is so that I can get stuff done properly when it suits me. The only thing I learned from their website is they have an absurd slogan they (which means me) must have paid some second rate plagiarists a fortune for – Healthcare/Reinvented. How pathetic is that?

Eventually I wasted 15 minutes ringing up a patronising woman who spoke so fast I could barely follow her, but told me they don’t do it anymore. They’ve offloaded it to Nuffield (slogan: For the love of life) and BMI (slogan: Serious about health. Passionate about care).

Let me pause to throw up before continuing …

Anyhow, what I wanted to know was the cost. I knew BUPA’s charges. Would these people rip me off more – or less? Ms. Snotty wouldn’t tell me. She just said I’d get a 25% discount. I don’t know about you but 25% off an unknown sum is pretty useless if you want to make a decision.

I then rang Nuffield where a pleasant lady told me in a couple of minutes what I wanted to know.

Eventually I went to BUPA, whose rates seem lower than AXA/PPP and had a pleasant enough experience if you like your prostate being tickled and don’t mind being hard sold the benefits of hearing aids.

I seriously believe that following the offloading by AXA/PPP of this essential service I will be contributing to two or three companies’ profits instead of one.

I also seriously believe that the word “redefine” in this instance means “abdicate responsibility for” and that it pays to train your telephone ladies to be pleasant as they represent your company.

Finally I seriously believe that if all the money pissed away on vapid slogans by companies’ witless marketing trolls were applied to doing a better job we would all benefit, the world would be a better place and my blood pressure would go down.



Is your marketing a sound investment – or a wasteful cost

If you are a marketer this makes unhappy reading. If you are a manager it may not surprise you. But don’t be smug

The news is shocking.

The overwhelming majority of CEOs do not believe marketers deliver the results they should.

The reason is simple. They are neither trained in, nor understand – even vaguely – the things they should.

You may doubt me. Could such strong statements be true? But they come from an independent April 2014 survey by the highly regarded Fournaise Group.

This unique organisation tracks and analyses the results of over 2.5 million campaigns annually online and off. They involve over 1200 firms selling products and services to consumers and businesses, all over the world.

The firms range from SMEs to Fortune 100 companies. No matter what you sell or who you sell to, what you are about to read is highly relevant

The report noted:

  • 90% of marketers are not trained in Marketing Performance & Marketing ROI.
  • 67% don’t believe marketing ROI requires a financial outcome
  • 64% rely on Brand Awareness as their chief way of measuring return on investment
  • 58%  refer to “Likes”, “Tweets”, “Clicks” and/or “CTR” as their leading performance indicators.
  • 31% think measuring audience reached is the way to assess return on investment

The report concludes witheringly that “Every Tom, Dick & Harry is a marketer lacking scientific and financial knowledge”.

What do their bosses think about this?

In another Fournaise report Chief Executives said marketers:

  • Talk about the “brand” (issues, values, equity, etc) but cannot link back to results that matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or market valuation (77%)
  • Focus too much on marketing trends (social media) because they believe in “New marketing frontiers” but cannot demonstrate how these are actually beneficial (74%)
  • When asked to increase ROI they understand it as cost cutting or negotiations with partners and agencies instead of top line growth regeneration: more revenue, sales, prospects, buyers (73%)
  • Ask for more money but cannot explain how much incremental business the money will generate (72%)
  • Bombard stakeholders with marketing data that mean nothing. (70%)
  • Don’t think like businesspeople. Focus too much on creative “arty” and “fluffy” side of marketing, not enough on business science. Rely on ad agencies to come up with big ideas (67%)

The gap between what marketers fondly imagine and how their bosses view them is considerable

73% of CEOs think marketers lack credibility. But 69% of marketers think their strategies and campaigns are effective – despite being unable to quantify or prove it.

Why did I suggest bosses should nevertheless not be too smug. Well, I still chortle when I recall a report that came out quite a few years ago. Over 1,000 top U.S. executives were sent a series of questions to establish how much they knew about marketing.

Their ignorance was such that the Wall Street Journal reported they would have got better marks if they had all answered “I don’t know” to every question.

I doubt if things are any better now, especially in Britain, where we have three big problems.

1. We have a higher percentage of executives to workers than in any other advanced economy. Too many clueless leaders; not enough people doing the work.

2. Top executives are handsomely rewarded whether they get results or not. Hardly an incentive – and a drain on profits.

3. We have a higher percentage of accountants among our chief executives than in other countries. This must be one reason for the rise of the procurement industry – and a crippling emphasis on numbers rather than quality or imagination.

The aim of marketing, according to  Sergio Zyman, who had such an impact on Coca Cola’s success, is “to sell more stuff to more people more often at higher prices”.

Perhaps over simple, as some marketing is to sell ideas. But if you’d like a few ideas on how to sell anything to anyone anywhere, you can join me and one of the world’s best salesmen on October 20th in London at Churchill’s War Rooms.






Why do so many alleged marketing experts ignore the absolute basics of writing?

Here’s the silly reason why so many e-mails fail

Because you’re reading this I suspect one thing about you.

You’re interested in marketing, because other than the stupid things I see around me that’s what I know best and write about most.

That being so the odds are you don’t just follow my advice. You study others.

So do I. Even at 78 I’m eager to learn.

And here’s an important fact I have discovered.

The things that make the difference between being read and replied to – or ignored – are so simple many experts don’t even think about them.

This has struck me the great force in the last few days as I’ve been reviewing the hundreds of emails I get in preparation for a talk I’m giving in October. Few are any good. Most are very bad.  Some are absurdly bad.

What kills your sales?

A good example hit my inbox not long ago.

It was yet another ludicrous promise from a coach/guru/genius to show me how to sell anything you like to anyone you care to think of. These rogues often do well not because they deliver what they promise, but because people believe what they want to believe

His first sentence was 55 words long – all about him. The word “you” – what you are most interested in – appeared nowhere.

If you want to kill readership and comprehension, any sentence longer than around 25 words is hard for the average reader to take in. The easiest length to take in is 8 words.

Two days ago I got another email from a very famous expert – you know his name for sure.

Not long ago he was called a “Titan” of Direct Response. And he teaches, among other things, how to write.

His email contained two successive sentences – one of 38 words, one of 44 words. His P.S. – often the most read thing in a message – was 38 words long and contained four separate thoughts.

This sort of thing kills readership – and sales.

People do not concentrate when they read. And if it’s the usual guff you get in emails they concentrate even less.

If your sentence is very long they forget what it was about before they get to the end.

They find it hard to take in more than two thoughts in a sentence, never mind four.

Read any successful thriller and see how long the sentences are. These writers know if their book isn’t easy to read it won’t sell. People pick it up at an airport book stall and if it looks like hard work, they put it down again.

People don’t want to work at reading, whether it’s for fun or profit.

Most of what you just read was brought to my attention by David Ogilvy in my offices at 20 Soho Square in early 1985. It has yet to penetrate the skulls of many who claim to write and sell.


The talk I mentioned will take place at The Churchill War Rooms on October 20th. If you already receive my emails you will be all too well aware of this, but what you have just read is one reason for making time to be there if you can.




Why people don’t vote – and Russell Brand the intellectual

If you think it makes no difference why vote? The General Election and a little tale from Bristol

Not long ago comedian Russell Brand was voted fourth on a list of the world’s great thinkers – or something similar. Possibly, God help us, it was a list of “thought-leaders”.

One of his great thoughts is that people should not vote. I should applaud this as though I’ve worked for both Labour and the Tories I have never, ever voted. But I do feel a bit guilty. If you don’t vote you can’t hope to change things, can you?

But why have I never voted? Why are fewer and fewer doing so?

In my case it’s because where I lived there was never a candidate I liked the sound of.  In 2009 the Daily Telegraph ran a piece on honest politicians. It was quite short. Almost all politicians seem utter shits – little more than adroit liars intent getting power and keeping it.

The current government swore to sort out the economy and among other things dear to my heart get rid of the hordes of useless and costly committees – quangos – staffed by the cronies of whoever is in power.

Today our national debt has shot up but few realise it because politicians deliberately obscure the truth. When they speak of reducing the deficit most of us think that means reducing the national debt. It doesn’t. It just means slowing the speed at which the debt grows.

And what do ALL the parties now promise? To spend more, making the debt greater. Some – the Greens and the SNP – would spend insanely more. Labour, stupidly more. The Tories vow they will make savings that cover the cost – but they lied last time, so why not now?

And the quangos? Many were just renamed, often with their parasitical crews given pay rises.

That’s how politics works. Politicians pile up misery for future generations when they won’t be here. As the neat American phrase goes, they kick the can a bit further down the road.

At a local level, though, things are even simpler – maybe because an even lower percentage of people vote than in national elections. They fuck you about and when you c0mplain they treat you with contempt.

Take Bristol, where I live. We have a mayor called Ferguson. His chief qualification seems to be that he always wears red trousers. This minor act of individuality, however silly,  singles him out as less dreary than the others. His other chief characteristic is simple. He completely ignores what voters want.

New parking proposals have been forward by the council recently. A great many people – probably the majority – object to them, partly because they are really just a new form of tax, partly because they are ill-conceived in some ways, and partly because there are few benefits we can see. I understand over 90% of the council itself voted against them.

In my road many were really interested and concerned. We got involved. We held meetings, canvassed opinion, raised detailed objections, and gave reasons why we objected.

The response from the man in charge – Service Director Peter Mann – was simple. He was insulting.

He sent a one page letter saying he had “considered” the matter, and decided the scheme will go ahead with “some minor modifications” which he did not trouble to specify. This is because it will “achieve elements of the wider transport policy aspirations of the City Council’s overall transport policy”.

Nobody has the faintest idea what that means; and even if we did it is a nonsense. Our aspirations should be considered not those of the Council – which in any case has voted against the scheme.

Not a word, not a smidgeon, not a suggestion, not hint, not a clue did this bureaucratic jackanapes give as to the reasons for his decision.

No doubt this scheme will go ahead. And no doubt even fewer people will vote at the next local elections.  Russell Brand’s may think this a good idea. But is it?

How to become a famous marketer

Once again Melbourne’s very own Ryan Wallman spots the phonies

I’ve run one of Ryan’s pieces before. The man is good. Here’s another rib-tickler:

How to become a famous marketer

First, choose a successful form of marketing that has been tried and tested over many decades.

Declare this form of marketing to be dead.

Justify this declaration on the basis that modern consumers are   infinitely more intelligent than all who have come before them, and are therefore immune to traditional marketing. Do not feel obliged to support this assertion with any evidence.

Announce to the world that you have created a new form of marketing (or rather, a ‘novel marketing paradigm’). This can be either:

the polar opposite of the one you have declared to be dead, or

exactly the same as the one you have declared to be dead, but with a different name.

Give your new creation a catchy title that reflects the modern marketing zeitgeist. For the sake of argument, let’s call it ‘Sewer Marketing’.

Publish a book called Sewer Marketing.

Do a tour to promote yourself… er, your book.

Bask in the effusive praise of gullible people.

Warning! Here’s just how useless “Britain’s leading data experts” are

They can’t spell and they write to a long-dead firm: would you give money to these comedians?

Do you ever rent lists?

I am regularly asked if I know of anyone who supplies good ones. I invariably pass the query on. I cannot recall coming across anyone any good for a while.

But one name I would never recommend is that of Peter Murray who says “we are the UK’s No 1 B2B data provider”.

If so, God alone knows how bad the others are.

He writes: How to enusre Drayton Bird Partnership’s success in 2015. So he either can’t spell or can’t be bothered to check his emails before they go out.

We all make spelling mistakes, though. But if I were a data provider I would check my data. The Drayton Partnership has not traded for well over a decade.

In the past I have replied pointing this out – but  never received a reply.

What adds an additional helping of mirth is that they – whoever they are – are part of The Intelligent Data Group.

Maybe they should “rebrand” as Illiterate Data Group, since they also have a crosshead reading “75% of business waste on average 14% of their revenue on bad data every year which equates to £198m!”

But they also point out that “Using old or out-of-date data cost businesses thousands in lost revenue and unproductive time and therefore it is critical that your data is accurate and up-to-date.” The little “s” after cost got lost somewhere along the way.

I certainly wouldn’t trust them to “Update and remove inaccurate data on your list” as they suggest. But maybe the first step in the right direction is, don’t use them.