October 20, 2016

Fixing Marketing Problems by Looking into the Past

I was never in trouble very much at school, but I remember standing nervously outside the deputy head’s office when I was doing my A-levels.

On Tuesdays a friend and I had ‘free periods’ in between break and lunch, which meant we were ‘free’ between 11AM and 1.45PM. You were supposed to stay in school in that time, supposedly to study.

Our version of ‘studying’ was to dodge out of school at 11, and head to a local snooker hall. To study the art of playing snooker.

One Tuesday we were playing snooker when my phone rang.

“There’s been a fire alarm,” said the caller, darkly. “And Askew wants to know where you are…”

So, a day later I stood outside deputy head Askew’s office. I had nothing constructive to say to him, other than I had ‘felt ill’ and gone home, apparently without telling anyone or signing out. Telling him the truth would have given the game away.

He nailed me of course, on the principle that in a genuine fire a fire fighter would be sent back into the building to look for people missing. I couldn’t argue with that, but it wasn’t my fault that the school’s rules failed to accommodate our snooker habits.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that the things we got in trouble for when we were small are normally still evident in our behaviour today.

It seems in a mostly unradical way that I was a free thinker at school, prone to slip away from what everyone else was doing and do my own thing. My work has since followed the same pattern. I abandoned my last two office jobs for unknown self-employment.

One of my earliest memories at infant school is a task we were given to make Easter cards. I was perhaps five or six. I came up with an elaborate musical card, that would be powered by giant Meccano batteries.

I obviously came nowhere near to finishing the card, barely designing the front cover.

“I think you’ve been a little ambitious,” was the teacher’s semi-friendly remark.

I still see this behaviour playing out today in different ways. I’m better now at selecting projects that are within my capabilities, but once a project is complete I’ll often drop it in favour of a new project. The Confusion Clinic marketing archive is full of half-finished or rarely promoted special reports.

What did you get in trouble for at school?

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.