14th April 2015

Customer Service “À la Française”

I absolutely love the word “egregious”. It’s one of those words that I learned at school as a way of remembering Latin vocabulary. One rainy afternoon in an otherwise boring second form Latin class, the teacher explained to an eager bunch of 12-year-olds that the word ‘grex’ means ‘herd’, as in ‘egregious’. We looked blankly at her. “Literally, it’s e-, ‘outside of’ grex ‘the herd’. Egregious is something that stands apart. Something outstanding or exceptional.” The explanation stayed with me but in that last [number withheld!] years I have racked my brains but never found an opportunity to use the word. Until […]
9th February 2012

UBC10: What makes a product into a Five-Star Experience?

About 13 years ago I bought a coffee maker. It was an espresso machine - you know the ones, just like you see in Starbucks, lots of steam coming out, lots of noise (mostly from you banging the old coffee grounds out of the holder). Most importantly for me, though, it was a machine from a "real" coffee maker brand: the people who make the coffee machines in Italian restaurants. Well, my espresso machine has finally been retired, and last week I bought a Nespresso machine. It's made by Magimix, the blender people. Not a name I'd associate with fine coffee. And yet... And yet... And yet... I feel so much better about the Nespresso purchase than when I bought the old machine. And it's not just about the fact it makes excellent coffee (and anyone who spends much time around me knows I *LOVE* my coffee). It's about the whole experience of opening up the box. When I bought my old espresso maker, it was about £140 ($210), and that was 13 years ago, so maybe it would be a £200/$300 coffee machine by today's standards. The Nespresso was £110/$175. It's a cheaper machine. So I had lower expectations...
14th January 2012

UBC7: Stuck for ideas? Read this!

I’ve been reading. It’ll be no great shock to anyone who knows me or indeed who has followed this blog over the years. The fact is, the demise of Borders merely made way for more time sitting in Costa downloading ebooks to the Kindle app on my iPad rather than sitting in Starbucks leafing through paper books But my latest read has been a “real” book. With hard covers no less!
5th January 2012

UBC Post 2: Breaking out of a Niche: Belgian Sake anyone?

That's the thing about brands: they're more often based on the associations and notions attached to a brand rather than on reality.
18th October 2010

What a Dominatrix taught me about Marketing

Sometimes it's hard for marketers to think outside the box. Take painkillers. No-one likes pain, right? Why would anyone want to keep hold of pain? Unless they were weird...