Wednesday, 15 September 2010


Have you ever ready any of Malcolm Gladwell’s journalism ? I’m currently re-reading Blink – The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

One of the stories he tells is about the Getty Museum and a purchase of marble statue dating from the sixth century BC, known as a Kouros. The vendor provided Getty’s legal team a whole bunch of documents relating to its most recent history. A geologist used an electron microscope, mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence to state that the statue was old, it wasn’t some contemporary fake. It was purchased

But there was a problem.

A number of art historians and experts just took one look at it and it felt wrong. They looked at it and felt an ‘intuitive repulsion’, and they were absolutely right. In the first two seconds of looking – they could see that it wasn’t right
Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds’

It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions.

Indeed, it could very well be about when you see an email in your inbox
What do you see?. What makes you decide within that blink of an eye whether to open or delete?
This isn’t a discussion about subject lines or time of day broadcasting ( in fact it’s not a discussion at all – it’s me giving an opinion)

Its more about who is sending you the email. I’m in the office a fair few hours every day and am on the receiving end of a number of ‘conversations’ , some digital, some verbal, some that are physical – body language is another story. But which of their sources make we listen to what they are saying. Whose voice within an instant switches my brain into gear or turns my ears off?

• Who do I want to listen to?
• Whose Tweet will I read?
• Whose email will I open?
• Who do you Trust not to waste your time?

I think it essentially boils down to what I’m expecting to hear or read. One of the reasons email engagement drops over time is because what the brand is sending me just doesn’t do it for me anymore
And why is that? Is it because I don’t like the colour of the emails once I’ve opened them

Probably not

It’s much more likely because it never seems to be for me

• It doesn’t recognize my shopping habits
• The content doesn’t match their opening line ( the subject line)
• It takes no account of my relationship with the brand
• They don’t even use my name!

As Seth Godin states on his blog, ‘It’s what every marketer knows!’ It’s about Relevance,Resonance

The first few times I get the email the novelty factor alone probably gets me to open it. But eventually not getting the right content will leave an imprint on my brain that ultimately results in me dismissing it in the blink of an eye.

Content is king. Get the right content to me at the right time and in the right tone and I will not only open you email long term, I’ll read it and act on it. Maybe not in two seconds, but that’s ok.

Long live the King

Ps. One of the key indicators that the statue was real, was that the surface was covered in a thin layer of calcite which can take thousands of years to form
It also seems that it is possible to ‘age’ the surface of the statue in a couple of months using potato mould
More from Malcolm Gladwell at his blog

Monday, 13 September 2010

If Markets are Conversations

In any conversation there are two subconscious aims:

To get to know the other person,
To reveal yourself.

Remember that one-on-one conversation is better than group conversation, but it makes it easier to make mistakes.