The Secret Marketer

Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

After a week away, I returned to the office to be greeted by a mountain of unopened post. Rather like pizza delivery menus and minicab business cards dominating my domestic doorstep, my professional in-tray is laden with speculative and poorly targeted mail. After a good hour of opening, glancing and tearing, 100% of the contents were quickly despatched to planet recycling.

I have worked in marketing for a good many years now and my in-tray is much the same now as it was when I started as a graduate trainee, though in those days the novelty of one’s own personal post was quite exciting.

Conference invites continue to dominate my pile. The mail-shots look extremely similar two decades on, though now they invite me to a two-day workshop on digital media convergence rather than a two-day workshop on the ITV network.

“The candidates are the same people presented to me in the Eighties”

Hot on the heels of conferences is branded merchandise. I am delighted that branded pens are still in fashion even if these days I am being flogged USB pens rather than a standard biro. (Read the special report on page 29 this week on new promotional innovations.)

Next in the pile lie CVs from speculative recruitment firms, all of which wish to introduce a candidate whose identity they cannot yet reveal for reasons of either exclusivity, anonymity or perhaps they haven’t actually met them either. This leads me to suspicions that even the candidates are the same people presented to me in the Eighties.

Following that is the suppliers of award-winning point-of-sale materials. There is no doubt that the cardboard display stands of 2009 feature better graphics than their predecessors, though I still hear many a tale of “storage issues” being resolved by donations to the local school bonfire each November.

I am actually surprised that so many point-of-sale products even reach my in-box due to the origami skills required to assemble one properly. Where Ikea has succeeded, this sector continues to fail – or should that be “fall”.

Last but not least in my pile of weekly in-tray joy is the mountain of mail from marketing agencies. Such mailings are a source of both joy and despair and deserve a weekly column in their own right. No doubt I shall write it soon.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here


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