Three things you won’t find in your stocking

I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve  spoken to recently who don’t have a marketing plan. It’s all up here, they tell me on the phone, and I picture them tapping their head. I know what I want to do, they say. Why would I take the time to write it down? Because writing it down makes it real. It forces you to focus. Writing it down exposes the flaws, shows the holes, and makes you look reality in the face. But here’s the great thing: it also reveals opportunities you never thought existed, and things you hadn’t even thought of. It takes you in unexpected directions and gets you thinking about alternative strategies. But where do you start? How do you get over BPS (blank-page syndrome, that is)? With a template, of course. It’ll give the process structure, order and a purpose. Microsoft has some great ready-made templates for Word (here) and PowerPoint (here).  The PPT is in Office 2007 format, so if you have an earlier version, you’ll need the Microsoft Office compatibility pack (here). Personally, I’d choose PowerPoint. It forces you to keep it brief, concise and bullet-pointed. Which is what the best marketing plans are.

Words (don’t come easy)

All bulleted out? Plump up the cushions, grab a glass of port and a mince pie, and take 15 minutes out to watch lexicographer Erin McKean on TED.com. Erin McKean redefines  the dictionary is a witty look at words from somebody who spends her every day swimming in a sea of them. One of the biggest drawbacks of using online dictionaries is, she says, that it eliminates serendipity.
“Serendipity is when you find things you weren’t looking for because finding what you were looking for is so damn difficult,” she says.
If, like me, you love words and can spend hours on end discovering new ones, this talk is for you. And even if you don’t, this talk is for you. If nothing else, you’ll find out the meaning of double dactyls, as well as polysemy and synecdochically. Enjoy. (If you’re reading in email and can’t see the embedded video, click here instead.)

Free lunch? Walk this way…

If all that talk of words leaves you hungry for more, here’s a great way to access some of the leading reference works for free. Yes, I said free. Not free* or free++ or even free^. Just free. There is one catch, though. You have to be in the UK and have a library card. If you are, and you have, you’re in luck, as your library website will provide a gateway. Researching a company? Try Marketline. Need to find out more about the Big Cheese? Try Who’s Who. Plus the OED, Oxford Reference Online, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the Encyclopaedia Britannica – and a whole lot more. Even if you don’t read (you dont?) it’s worth joining your local library just for the freebies. With all that reference material, there’s more than enough room for a little serendipity. Not to mention synedoche and polysemy. Merry Christmas (and don’t leave crumbs on the cushion).
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