If you need these lists you’re in trouble


 Almost every day I get lists like these. If I collected them all and tried to act on them I don’t think I’d get very far with my day. They remind me of my mother when I was a kid – telling me to wear clean underwear, an undershirt, appropriate cloths, sit up straight, chew my food twenty times, go straight to school, or bed, etc.

Her “lists” were part of her child training routine, not a replacement for it.

The lists I use today are SHORT and rank what projects we need to do.

Not how to do them. That’s the purview of training which I see less and less of today because everyone wants everything fast + cheap. So there's no time or financial margin left for training. I wish business leaders would wake up, return to basics and deep-six all these dumb lists.

They are not a substitute for, and a VERY poor supplement to, genuine training.

I’m very good at what I do because people took the time to train me, years of practice and my commitment to making the good better and the better best.

Not because of (how to do) lists.


Did duct cleaning sales skyrocket?


Every other day, or night, I get a call from my local Duct Cleaning Service providers.

When the calls began a few years ago they came from India. I could tell because of the phone numbers, accents and names. Names like Krishna and Kamala.

Then everyone was sent back to school and had their accents adjusted and fed a few colloquial phrases. Soon after they were assigned a pseudonym and their calls were routed through a 416-exchange.

Somewhere out there, there are a bunch of disturbed call center owners + operators that are assuring their clients that these new “call localization” strategies are responsible double digit sales increases. Their key presentation slide might look something like this:

Tactics + Response rate

India Calling              1/ 1000

416 Calling                2 / 1000

416+Pseudonym       4 / 1000

Clearly things can only get better.

I don’t think so. I think that the duct cleaning campaigns demonstrate that some ideas are just bad ideas that need to stay in the box.

That when you try to refine a bad idea you do more harm than good.

The increase in Duct Cleaning sales may serve a few lucky little businesses but they have tarred the medium with the brush of illegitimacy.

Hold on.

I need to take this call.

Hey I’ve just won three free nights in Wawa!


We are business bridge builders


 This is an excerpt from a letter to one of my clients.

I’m posting it because I’ve written this memo or presented this argument at least 100 times in my career. So from now on I’ll just link to this blog post.


 Dear all,

Thank-you for your negative response to my creative recommendations.

I cannot think of a better way to demonstrate why I believe that we MUST always ask our clients to approve each creative brief before we begin work on their projects. If we don’t we’re just playing pin the tail on the donkey. This includes work you do for your agency too.

  • As wise Brand Stewards and brilliant Account Directors, we should be checking for more than logic and typos in the creative brief. We should ensure the brief ties back to the advertising plan - which ties back to the marketing plan - which ties back to the business plan.
  • As insightful Creative Directors we MUST understand how the ad (campaign), will help the brand manager move the ad plan, the marketing plan and the overall business plan forward - X yards towards the annual or quarterly "goal-line". If we don’t understand that, we are hobbling our ability to help our clients. In plain terms that means – we’re not doing our jobs and are providing inferior value.
  • As Agency Directors we must see ourselves as bridge builders. Our (communications) work needs to bridge the intellectual gap between the brand and the customer with practical and emotional constructs that lead to long-term positive brand-biased behavior changes.
  • "Faster + Cheaper" propositions break brands.
  • "Better", information + education make brands. 

Next steps:

  • Lets meet and agree the real objectives, discuss the creative options in the correct context and then choose the option that serves the brand plan best.

As usual,

Frank by name + nature.


Smart doesn’t always look smart



Smart doesn’t always look smart, but Smart laughs all the way to the bank.

On my travels I see a lot of stores that really don’t get it.

This one does.

 When I first saw this store I shook my head in dismay. Then I realized what I was looking at. It does a wonderful job of supporting its customer promise: “We Buy – Sell – Trade anything used.”

The storefront also tells me that this is not your average store and that IF you want to enjoy your visit, you had better park all of your retail “best practice” preconceptions – except maybe most of them:

  • customers are attracted by and will promote your product variety,
  • ditto for great price \ value propositions,
  • the bigger / better the store – the bigger the catchment area,
  • the more noteworthy the location – the more likely it is to becomes iconic, an urban point of reference, notorious, etc.,
  • product variety covers all the seasons and reasons for buying something (used),
  • novel items become memory aids that encourage the store to be visited next time something that’s not in the middle of the retail “bell curve” is required,and
  • finally this store gets consumer business, supplies other smaller retailers and the film industry.

Very smart.


Sarah Sabatini the Web Fairy


sarah profile

I love designing communications that are clean and simple – like my own web-site.

And I love working with Sarah Sabatini (AKA The Web Fairy) at 6P Marketing, Winnipeg.

You’re looking at and hopefully enjoying the latest fine tuned iteration of Wehrmann.ca

Another great Sabatini-Wehrmann collaboration.