Trees and rocks

A few weeks ago I wrote on another of my blogs about how the words we use have power, it was titled ‘Sticks and Stones’. Today something happened that made me realise that the post lacked the power it should have, so I am writing about it again this time with the title ‘Trees and rocks’; they are bigger than sticks and stones.

Using trees in the title is appropriate; how someone referred to them made me apoplectic. I was involved in a consultation exercise with an energy company (yes, I know I live an exciting life) and the targets for all sorts of things were being discussed by the group (online) from customer service to cyber resilience. It was all going well until we came to network performance (power cuts). Some power cuts are caused by trees falling on power lines during storms. To keep on top of this the company monitored tree infestations, What! Infestations, they are not fleas or cockroaches, they are trees, beautiful things. People write poems about trees.

Trees

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Yes, I know there is a poem about a flea; however, that is an erotic metaphysical poem by John Donne. It is not in praise of the flea; it is just used as a device.

Until that word was used I felt well disposed to the organisation, after the infestation utterance they ranked below Beelzebub and were definitely off my Christmas card list. Your choice of language can affect how your organisation is perceived. It can also affect how you behave, the solution to tree infestation was clearance with other solutions not being considered. Compare that with the problem that electricity lines pose when they cross a playground (electrocution risk to children). Here undergrounding or insulation are the preferred solutions. Apparently clearing the little pests off the playground is not an option.

Off course children are more important than trees; they are little treasures. If trees are thought about as treasures, rather than infestations, how they are dealt with may be more sympathetic; re-routing, undergrounding or raising the cables up above the trees would then become options.

I took a few calming breaths (this may be a luxury when all the trees are gone) and carried on listening to the plans to decarbonise their operations. All sounded lovely until it came to electric vehicles. It would not be possible to replace the whole fleet with electric vehicles because sometimes they were required to go off-road in some tough conditions and the electric vehicles are not man enough. What!

Oh dear, that is some rather large tyre tracks through the UNESCO guidelines on gender neutral language, 1999. Note the comments on page 4:

“There is a growing awareness that language does not merely reflect the way we think: it also shapes our thinking. If words and expressions that imply that women are inferior to men are constantly used, that assumption of inferiority tends to become part of our mindset.”

Words have power, chose your words carefully. Mind your language.

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A ‘Wicked’ Product or Service Mix.

I had assumed that using wicked to mean excellent or wonderful was the idiom of youth, or perhaps youth a few years back, and was amazed to discover that it has its roots in the early 1960s  So now you know that I’m talking about excellent mixes of products or services rather than bad ones.

Most business offer a mix, for example accountants may offer, audit services, bookkeeping, accounts preparation, tax advice, payroll services and business consultancy. An artist may sell original work, limited edition prints, notelets and other items carrying the images.

The mix may have grown haphazardly or been appropriate in the past, but not wonderful in current conditions. So, keep it under constant review. Some businesses will only carry out an extremely basic assessment, if sales value exceeds costs it’s in. Others may expect a product to contribute a certain amount towards overheads before including it in the mix. A more sophisticated approach would be to allocate overheads to products on a rational basis thinking about how those products impact overhead costs. For example, something that needs to be stored at a given temperature (high or low) will impact energy costs more than something that can be stored at ambient temperatures. Even then somethings may be omitted from the decision process, a product that can only be bought in bulk and sold in small quantities may have a better cost profile than some others; however, what is the impact on the business of tying up working capital in stock?

Products or services do not exist in isolation, they are often interconnected and interdependent, so systems thinking needs to be applied to product mix. That is where my thoughts to turned to ‘wicked’, if you read about systems thinking you will come across the term ‘wicked problems’ meaning difficult ones. The connections between products or services are relatively simple; however, it is easy to overlook them and it is sometimes difficult to understand the impact. For example, an artist selling notelets may find her work becomes better known that way and that increases the chance of selling more original pieces. Or it may cheapen the brand and discourage buyers at the higher end.

When I sold to independent sports shops there was an item in the range that made us little money; however, it was a star – it was our way in. It was something they couldn’t get elsewhere; it came with a neat countertop point-of-sale display and only required a small investment, so shops were prepared to buy from an unknown distributor. That gave us the opportunity to build relationships and they would then buy more products from us. Later, when we were more established, there were products in the range that kept us in, they were not stars; however, they did stop our customers sourcing them from somewhere else and possibly straying to a competitor for all their needs.

There are many relationships, for example, is a less profitable product taking sales away from a more profitable one? Do products have different seasonal characteristics, two massive summer sellers could mean you cannot meet demand, one summer star and one winter star could mean more overall sales.

Examine your products or services and understand their characteristics, then think about the system of relationships and then think about what is not there, what is missing. Would adding something in there improve the whole system. Just don’t disappear into the matrix and please be kind to the dog

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Make your own luck – plan

Please bear with my running story, it is relevant then I get down to business.

On Monday’s I attend an online event at 7 am, Wisdoms123 Chats, it is hosted in South Africa so a more reasonable time of 8 am there. At this time of year it means getting up in the dark; however the good thing is that by the time it is over (it lasts for about 30 to 40 minutes) it is light enough to go for a run. A great way to start the day.

Unfortunately, this Monday I also had a commitment at 8 am, UK time, and a busy day ahead. Getting a run in looked unlikely; not good. There was one small gap in the schedule after the 8 am meeting that could be exploited with some planning and adjustments. I normally have a cooked breakfast when I get back from the run, there would be no time for that, so I prepared overnight oats the day before and ate them before the 7 am Zoom meeting. Even though it is advertised as a breakfast meeting I think eating while on screen is not the thing to do. My kit was all laid out and I had pre-planned where I would go so that I knew I’d get back in time to have a shower and dress before the next meeting. If things didn’t go quite to plan, I could always wipe my face with a flannel and shower later; there is no odour function on Zoom, yet!

It had been wet and windy when I got up, when I got out of the door, the rain had gone, and the wind had died down; it was a lovely sunny day. That was lucky I thought, then I realised it wasn’t luck. It would have been sunny whether I had gone for a run or not; I was only enjoying it because I had planned and been able to work around the other commitments to get outside.

Wikipedia says Gary Player* (South African golfing legend) “Coined one of the most quoted aphorisms of post-War sport”:

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

I like to think the more you plan the luckier you get. Perhaps one day Wikipedia will attribute that aphorism to me.

The more you plan, the luckier you get.

It might seem that in business the more you plan the luckier you get, and it is certainly in line with W H Murray’s thinking:

“…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.” – full quote produced at the end of this post.

I know what he means, and the sentiment is certainly spot on; however, Providence does not move, and those things would have occurred irrespective of whether ones commits or not. Our awareness of those events and the outcomes are affected by planning, as a simple example will demonstrated. You have a business selling cakes and get your ingredients delivered from a wholesaler at the other end of the M5. You know that accidents can happen so maintain a small stock. That accident will happen no matter what you do, by planning the effects are mitigated. You may think that is good risk management, but what about when it is something good that happens, is that luck or the result of planning. Let’s look at an example; you are at a networking event and get talking to some one who has a wonderful recipe for brownies. You are thrilled, your sponges are superb; however, your brownies are borderline. You had planned to visit the British Library to research brownie recipes, now you don’t need to do that, what a stroke of luck. No, it is not, you were always going to meet that person. If you were not planning to sort your brownies out the comment about the brownie recipe would have been said and fallen on deaf ears.

Why W H Murray says “All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred” is because your antennae are twitching and you notice them, indeed many you will grab with both hands. With out planning they would have passed without being noticed, to you it would appear that they had not happened because you were not aware of them.

So, plan, plan and plan and get ‘lucky’.

*Wikipedia is wrong; Gary Player attributes the saying to fellow golfer Jerry Barber. However, it would seem that the saying, or something very similar has been around since at least the 1940s.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.W. H. Murray

www.trailrunningman.com

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Change

I thought I would say a few words about change as there is a lot of it about at the moment; some of it forced upon businesses and some of it as the result of businesses seizing opportunities. There was an interesting discussion recently on Twitter organised by the Inclusivity Project during National Inclusion Week. The Inclusivity Project helps small-to-medium businesses in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly to overcome challenges around inclusive employment and workplace wellbeing and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. During that discussion it was noted that older employees are often thought of as change-resistant; however, they are not, they are changed experienced. And that made me think about successful change programmes.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), the Italian diplomat and philosopher observed:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

The older experienced employee will have seen many attempts at a new order of things, most of which will have foundered on the rocks of the lack of belief in new things. They will also know that changes which bring real benefits to them are good, so will back changes where the benefits are worthwhile and clearly seen at the outset. I am sure very few people kept using a mangle once they saw the benefits of the spin drier.

I’m not a fan of Machiavelli; he encouraged politicians to engage in evil when it would be necessary for political expediency. His book, The Prince, gained notoriety due to claims that it taught “evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power”.

I’m not a fan of Dizzee Rascal either, but in a different way; I don’t like his music. I admire what he has achieved. For those not familiar with Dizzee Rascal he is a rapper and considered to be the pioneer of grime music in the UK. He has just been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Dizzee had a troubled childhood, was violent and disruptive and expelled from four schools. Music changed him. Now he is a respected artist, owns a record label, holds an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of East London and now is a MBE.

The reason I mentioned Dizzee, or Mr Rascal as Jeremy Paxman referred to him in a television interview in 2008, is for his words during that interview.

“If you believe you can achieve innit”

That is probably all you need to know about change, you can look all the other stuff up; leadership, consultation, incremental steps, taking people with you, etc. The important thing is.

“If you believe you can achieve innit”

You can see the interview here.

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To speak or not to speak that is the question?

Every weekday morning at the unpleasant time of 7am I join an online group in South Africa (it’s 8am for them) for a brief discussion on various management/leadership topics. I find it a great way to start the day listening to the views of others and also reflecting on what I think and why. It only lasts for half an hour so does not eat into the day. Leigh the CEO of Wisdoms starts us off and then Ivan invites us in turn to speak; he decides when you will speak. You never know whether you will be first, last, or somewhere in between.

The topic we are going to discuss next is influence and I have all weekend to think about it. Now if I speak first I could set the tone for the morning, if I’m called to speak later I could find that what I was going to say has already been said or does not fit in with the direction that has been set by the others.  This made me think about Brutus and Mark Anthony as well as a trick I play on children when I volunteer on activity breaks.

Children first; I say that being able to do sums in your head is a good life skill and tell them that I am going to set them a task to see how good they are at mental arithmetic. I say you are driving a bus which leave the bus station with 5 passengers, at the first stop 2 people get off and 3 get on, at the next stop 2 get off and 4 get on, nothing happens at the next stop and at the final stop before getting back to the bus station 3 people get off and 1 gets on. What is the name of the bus driver? No one gets the right answer even though everyone knows it. I have directed then to think about numbers, so they miss the non-numeric piece of information “You are driving a bus”.

If you are a manager, boss, leader, or expert you can quite easily stop your team seeing the answers if you give your opinion first, they will agree with you, you have directed them how to think. If you want to generate fresh ideas keep your opinions to yourself and speak last. You many need to interject if the discussion is clearly going awry.

Of course, if you want to dictate how things turn out express your opinions first, but beware of Brutus and Mark Anthony. I studied Julius Caesar for English ‘O’ Level and all I remember apart from ‘Et tu, Brute?’ is a discussion about the speeches made by Brutus and Mark Anthony. My ‘O’ levels were over 50 years ago, and I have not read or seen the play since. Brutus spoke to the crowd first after the killing of Caesar, he was eloquently and had things in the bag, then Mark Anthony spoke often saying “Brutus is an honourable man” To start with he builds on what Brutus said appearing to support him then gradually he turns the crowd against Brutus. So, the big question, do you speak first or last. I have never sorted that one out, both have worked for me. Generally, I speak later so that I can use what people have said before in whatever way suits my objectives.

So, what am I going to say about Influencing on the WISDOMS™ Chats? I have three options prepared so that I am ready for whenever I am called to contribute:

The bus example

Brutus and Mark Anthony

A tale of two runners

Both the runners have written a book, and both are public speakers. One wins races and sets records the other has come last in 25 marathons. If I use the tale of two runners it will be about which one is the more influential.  Of course, things might go pear-shaped, then I will just wing it.

Before I speak, I always consider the mnemonic WAIT, which I came across during a sales training session I attended.

Why Am I Talking

That helps to decide whether I should say something, then if I am going to speak, I employed the rest of Rudyard Kipling’s honest serving men.

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

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Clarity in uncertain times

When accountants want to solve a complex problem they turn to T-accounts, an excellent way to keep the debits and credits in order and visualise what is going on. Ask any accountant about T-accounts and they will wax lyrical. They take you back to the origin of double entry bookkeeping 800 years ago in the commercial world of Italy. Stripped bare of the bells and whistles of modern accounting systems the T-account provides clarity with no distractions or complications. There is nothing more satisfying than drawing these simple shapes on a piece of paper and following the debits and credits on their logical journey, safe in the knowledge that if every debit has a corresponding credit all will be well.

In these turbulent business times, brought about by the need to control the spread of the Coronavirus, a tool that helps clarity of thought when rising to challenges and finding new business opportunities would be a godsend. A business planning T-account is what is needed and thankfully there is one. It occurred to me what it was when I was thinking about changes made by a couple of Cornwall businesses.

One provided sales and presentation training delivered to groups on the client’s premises. Covid-19 stopped that, so the business went online after adapting the offering. Previously the courses were run over one or two days; that would be hell to sit through on Zoom in your own home, so the courses were split into smaller segments. This meant that the person running the course could check in between modules to make sure learning was being applied, making the course more effective. They invested in good kit; webcams and microphones to ensure professional delivery of the online events.

The second example was a small company that sold their products into supermarkets. When Covid first hit, and there was panic buying and supply chain issues, supermarkets announced that they would reduce the lines they stocked. The company was worried that their products would no longer be stocked so they investigated, using external consultants, options and instigated selling direct to the public.  Fortunately, they were not dropped by the supermarkets so now they have two routes to market.

What both organisations did in effect was employ an old, simple management tool, SWOT analysis; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A device similar to T-accounts. Instead of left and right you have four boxes to conveniently and safely put things in.  Like T-accounts you can draw the shape on a piece of paper or a white board and write in the boxes bringing clarity. When everything is written down you pick on the most important things to exploit or mitigate. That is what those businesses did, identified threats and opportunities, addressed their weaknesses and played to their strengths. Simple but powerful stuff.

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There is some great business inspiration we can get from nature.

When I became Chief Executive of the Communication Workers Friendly Society it was at a time of major change in the Financial Services sector which meant seismic change for many friendly societies in the long-term insurance business.  I knew that to flourish we would need great service from our professional advisers; accountants, actuaries, fund-managers, solicitors and IT support.  I also knew, from having been a professional adviser (accountant), that large clients gobble up advisers’ attention in times of need and the minnows are left at the end of a very long queue. I set about changing that by making my organisation look bigger than it was.  I involved myself with the Association of Friendly Societies (eventually becoming President), various industry groups and represented friendly societies on the Small Business Panel of the Financial Services Authority, the industry regulator (now reformed and renamed). I was seen as having reach and influence and therefore someone to keep sweet and engage with; I could let the professional advisers know about the pressing issues facing their clients and prospective clients. I referred to this as my Puffer Fish project.

One of the association members was the Metropolitan Police Friendly Society (now rebranded Metfriendly) with a proud history since 1893. Members of the Met Police ‘family’ are very loyal to their friendly society, which I believe exhibits the original ethics of the friendly society movement in a modern manner. To continue the animal analogy, I would consider them a cuckoo when it comes to marketing. Cuckoos, dove size birds, lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and pass the hard work of raising chicks on to them. Metfriendly allow other, much larger organisations, to do their marketing for them, bringing the need and benefits of financial products to their members’ attention safe in the knowledge that police officers will buy from their friendly society. Metfriendy focus their attention on great customer service and promoting friendliness.

Cuckoos made me think of the birds and bees and reproduction. Plants want to get pollinated and some have managed to get bees involved in this process. Bees have absolutely no interest in plant reproduction; they are only interest in their own reproduction and food. Plants provide the bees with food, nectar, to get them into the process. To let them know it’s there they have brightly coloured flowers; they also have mechanisms to ensure the pollen gets carried away by the bee to fertilise a neighbour. We can learn some businesses lessons from this; stand out, let people know what you are offering, entice them in and make sure they do something that is of benefit. This might mean attracting them with a free offer and getting their interest and, ideally, their contact details. If you have a think about the concept, I am sure you will come up with some great ideas. Remember your nectar may not be what you are selling. With the birds and the bees both benefit.

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Are you working hard when your business could be working harder?

This post was prompted by a great example of a business getting it right. To set the scene I will first write about businesses getting it wrong.

Very often businesses do not get the best out of the activities they engage in. Trade shows are a good example, businesses will exhibit, or visit, without getting the maximum value available. Often what is achieved is a very lacklustre performance. It will be decided to attend a particular show and a lot of money will be spent on booking a stand space and making it look nice, sorting out travel and accommodation for staff. Sometimes thought will be given to what the desired outcomes are, which could be sales, increased brand awareness, product launch, collecting names for a marketing database, etc. Surprising very often those outcomes are not thought about. Even when they are they are poorly executed because the staff on the stand are not motivated and can be seen sitting staring at their smartphones, perhaps expecting potential customers to wait until they deign to look up and speak to them. Very little planning will have gone into pre-show activity (publicity, inviting key customers to visit, etc.) or post-show activity (publicity, following up leads, debrief, etc). When I attended the National Running Show as a visitor, I wrote a blog post about it the following day and sent it to the organisers. They included a quote from it and a link to my website in the email they sent out to all show attendees a few days later. Amazing publicity for just a little bit of effort.

Now to the good example. I have written several articles for the Rad Season website which is described as the ultimate hub for the world’s best experiences.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all your action sports and adventure festival booking needs. Obviously with the restrictions on travel imposed because of the Coronavirus pandemic there is not a lot of experiences happening. Rad Season has started a series of podcast interviews with their contacts on a whole range of sports and travel experiences to stay engaged with their followers. I was one of those interviewed, and here is the good bit, Rad Season made it extremely easy for me to promote that podcast, both before the event and after. They supplied useful links to the material on various platforms (never thought I would be on iTunes) and great graphics with quotes from the interview to make it extremely easy for me to post on social media.

That same process, which was put in place before the project started, is repeated with every interviewee. Rad Season made it amazingly easy for us to publicise ourselves, and therefore them, to our networks extending their reach massively and to remarkably diverse audiences who were still people that would want to interact with them. That’s smart leverage; that little bit of extra effort made the asset, the podcast, work hard for them; it also meant they had lots of willing helpers, the interviewees, working at spreading the word.

How can you make your assets work harder and get that extra reach?

Solve your customers’ problems and they will buy from you.

My first business was selling ice-creams from kiosks on two sites in Cambridge, Lammas Land and Jesus Green. The Lammas Land site was close to a paddling pool and playground which was very well used, so when the sun shone it was busy. However, I was eager to increase sales and would put a sign out alongside the river Cam to attract punters (people in punts) to the kiosk which was not visible from the river. I was disappointed with the trickle of customers, then one day, when I was putting the sign out, a passing punter asked where the nearest toilets were. Light bulb moment, they are near my ice-cream kiosk – the next day there were two signs, the original one and another saying toilets. The trickle turned into a stream and, on sunny weekend days during the holidays, it was a flood.

The other kiosk was on Jesus Green with one side opening onto the open-air swimming pool and the other onto the green space. It did not turnover over as much as the Lammas Land site; however, in the height of summer when the pool was busy it made more profit because it sold more food, which had a better profit margin. On Sundays in July and August the Council organised concerts using the bandstand – normally brass bands. On those days I sent someone out on a tricycle with a fridge full of ice-creams and lollies to save people having to walk to my kiosk, which was some distance away, and to sell to those people who were too lazy to walk to the kiosk..

A chance conversation with a customer, who had come over for a coffee and a hot dog, led to another good business tactic. He loved the music on Sundays as it was a good reason to come out. He said it seemed strange to come to the park without a reason. A lot of other people must have felt the same because sales on Sundays from the green side of the kiosk were not good in other months. The next day I approached the Council to see if they would put concerts on in June and September as they were good weather months. They had no budget so I came up with a plan, if they would let me use the bandstand, I would put concerts on in June and September. I didn’t have the budget either, so I asked bands to play for free and they would be allowed to have a collection. We had some great concerts, Brass Bands, Jazz Bands and even a Jamaican Steel Drum Band. I sold a lot of ice-cream, the bands loved playing and the people of Cambridge were entertained. Win, win, win.

I’ve always found helping people pays dividends. More recently I was contacted by someone I know vaguely who wanted me to put her in touch with a mutual friend. She had been emailing him asking for some information about the Comrades marathon as she had been asked to write an article about it. She had the right email address; my friend had just not responded. I have run Comrades a few times, so I answered her questions. At the end of the conversation she suggested I contact the editor to see if I could write for him as her career was moving in a different direction. I did just that and when he needs a running article, he turns to me.

He recently recorded a video interview with me about running and in particular the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in South Africa. Great for publicising the Trailrunningman business and the race in the South Africa. I wonder who the UK agent is? Oh, it’s me 😊

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Never hurry a Murray Mint

A little while ago someone in an online networking meeting said that he was new to being self-employed, having previously worked for big companies. While an expert in his field he knew nothing about all the other bits and pieces you must do when you run your own business, and he said he would welcome any advice. I typed in the chat box ‘Never hurry a Murray Mint’. I saw him glance to the right to read the message and then smile. Job done; connection made. That was also the moment I decided to create the Businessthoughts blog.

The title for this post comes from the jingle in a television advert for Murray Mints:

Murray Mints, Murray Mints too good to hurry mints.

The advert was first aired in 1955 (although the sweets came on the market in 1944) and Murray Mints were the first product to have a jingle. Just mention Murray Mints, which are still on sale, to people of a certain age and they will sing the jingle in a reaction that would make Pavlov proud. This illustrates the power of adverts and jingles. You can view the advert on YouTube.

There are a lot of business lessons to be learnt from Murray Mints. The first is the power of alliteration; would the sweet have sold as well had they been called Thompson Mints Just look at the world of entertainment for the answer: Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Pink Panther, Desperate Dan, Roy Rogers, Hulk Hogan – the list is massive. There are exceptions, for example Dennis the Menace, they rely on the other device in the jingle, rhyme. There are some that do neither, Buzz Lightyear for example, and in the confectionery world Werther’s Originals. If you are writing copy think about using alliteration or even better use a copywriter, it is their bread and butter. You need to be careful as it can seem false or tortured, for example, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? Printed in Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation by John Harris (1756–1846) in London in 1813.

If you have a good product don’t mess with it; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” The original sweet company, Pascall Murray, was taken over by Bassett’s, then Bassett’s was gobbled up by the Cadbury-Schweppes giant. However, the sweet was left unchanged. Have a little think and see where you think the Murray Mint is on the Boston Matrix. If you don’t know what that is go Google.

What the advert tells us, or rather doesn’t tell is very informative. There are no facts; Murray Mints are made of glucose syrup, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable fat, molasses, salt, soya lecithin, and flavourings which doesn’t sound very appealing. Relaxed indulgence does and that is what the advert is telling us about, it is selling us a little bit of a dream. If you know anything about what it was like in the 50’s you can see why it was successful.

My favourite song is Wonderful Life – Black (I collect cover versions – 32 so far) and in the lyrics is the line “There’s magic everywhere” – that is so true, magic little bullets that you can use in your business. So grab a pack of Murray Mints, too-good-to-hurry mints, put your feet up and think what else you can learn form those suckers, and all the other magic around us.

Wonderful Life – Black

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