It’s ok — your wife isn’t here!


Being a writer, I tend to read absolutely everything. So when I saw this sign on King William Road at Hyde Park, I just had to pull over, park my car, walk back, and check it out. With all the political correctness of the world, there seem to be fewer places that men or women can escape from the other sex. Because sometimes we just need to. If you don’t believe me, please refer to John Gray’s classic book, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’. Not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey, his advice is pretty black and white — a man needs his cave.

My dad and my ex had their shed, but with more and more work being outsourced to VIP or Hire-a-Hubby these days, and backyards getting smaller and smaller, the shed has almost become extinct. So where can a guy go to get away? The barber.

Robbie’s Chop Shop has got it sorted. When I popped my head in to ask if I can take some photos, it was full of men waiting to get in the chair. A totally female-free zone. Which I have to say was a lot quieter than my hairdresser ever was. Not sure if that’s because I stuck my head in, but I suspect it’s probably pretty nice and quiet anyway.

Barber3 Barber2 barber4





The witty words on the A-frame and on the door get the message across in a cheeky way. The big bike parked out the front is probably another great ploy to get attention from blokes driving past. From what I can see, the combination seems to be working.


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Men reasserting themselves

With all the political correctness around, I guess it’s no wonder that we occasionally see an ad that seems to be reasserting the man’s point of view. One is a print ad I saw in Adelaide Matters for the Porsche Cayman GTS. It stated in the headline:



Women want men to show their feelings.
Here you go: The new Cayman GTS.


Now, I thought that was quite clever. Tongue in cheek, it’s playing on a real truth, yes women DO want men to show their feelings and if you insist, dear, here are my feelings. Would this ad offend women? Or do other women think it’s funny? Personally, I love it but let me know your opinion.

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A laundromat café?






What a great idea! Our cruise ship had docked at Hobart and my friend Leah and I were wandering around the artsy Salamanca precinct. We thought it was high time for a coffee and a break from our browsing, when we came across Machine Laundry Café. It was tucked away at the back of a courtyard, underneath quite a few storeys of apartments.

The patrons appeared to be both locals and tourists, and I can imagine the latter using the laundromat, then sitting and having a coffee while their undies go round. Not that you can see that! The layout is well designed as is the advertising, which made me laugh.



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Is old-fashioned service dead?

I’m not a big shopper, but in the leadup to Christmas and during my holidays, I did have lots of spare time and indulged in a little retail therapy, for gifts and for me. Spending all that time in stores was also very interesting research. And led me to the question I have posed as the headline for this blog. Which is a rant. Because much as I would like to continue to support my local bricks-and-mortar stores…

There are times when I just can’t
• Like when I wanted to buy 4 pairs of shoes but was told that the order they’d placed for that style had never come through… so she guessed it looked like they wouldn’t be stocking them this summer.

• Like the fact that even when I want to throw money at a hifi store for a product, they’re not interested in taking my name and calling me when the stock comes in.

• Like the fact that so many stores don’t even have a business card to write info on but instead let their staff scrounge around for some scrap of paper. Seriously?

Online shopping vs bricks-and-mortar shopping
I may be wrong but in my book the MAIN thing that a bricks-and-mortar store has over online shopping is PERSONAL SERVICE. And when you can shoot a cannon through David Jones without hitting a staff member, it really sends a message that service has gone down the drain.

A big thankyou to Smokemart ColonnadesLavaLamp
I threw my old lava lamp out because it had blown a bulb (doh!) and wanted to replace it with one in the same colours. Couldn’t find one around anywhere. While I was buying another colour for a friend (no, I don’t choose friends on the basis that they like lava lamps, but it doesn’t hurt) I happened to mention I wanted a yellow one

The girls in the Smokemart Colonnades upstairs store started asking me questions. Did I need it before Christmas? (No, it was for me.) Did I want the old style or the new style? (Old style.) They offered to take my name and number and a month later, called me to tell me my lamp was in. Service with a smile. Thankyou. Maybe old-fashioned service is not dead, after all.


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Podcast series – Web, words, branding and design

My graphic designer mate, Shane Gill of KIK and I have been collaborating and we’ve come up with a series of 8 podcasts all about Web, words, branding and design. Basically, it’s Shane and me discussing and sometimes disagreeing about all sorts of things, like the topics listed below. They’re pretty short, sharp and shiny chats, most are about 10-12 minutes long so perfect to download and listen to in between doing other stuff.

Podcast Series 1WWBAD

• An intro to web, words, branding and design
• What good graphic design can do for your business
• Logos — how does yours stack up?
• Logo design and rebranding — what to look out for
• What good copywriting can do for your business
• Writing — how to get rid of the blank page
• 3 ways to test your writing
• Different reasons to have a website — what’s yours?

The first 6 are up, and the last 2 will be uploaded Jan/Feb. Last week I got an email from a marketing manager in the UK so we’ve officially gone global! I’m rapt.  :) If you’re a business owner who wants to get some inside information from a couple of horses’ mouths, have a listen. And if you have any comments or other stuff you’d like us to talk about, please do let us know.

Available on iTunes now.


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An ad with no actors, just real people

Every now and then an ad comes along that is not about buying the latest something, but about a message. This ad created by GetUp has what I think is a very important message to everyone living in Australia. There are no actors. Just real people telling their story. That renewable energy is vital to the survival of their region. And they do what good advertising should always do — not just tell you but show you.

From Goulburn to Adelaide
I sent this link to one of my copywriting clients, Yates Electrical Services. They’re a Riverland-based company involved in windfarm installations all around the country. Mark Yates emailed me back to thank me and to let me know that the project featured in the ad was one his team worked on.

A few months ago, I wrote the copy for Mark’s website. So, in a roundabout way, it turns out that a little bit of the money generated by work in renewables across the country in Goulburn has ended up in my bank account in Adelaide and helps my business. See, this is how it works. The flow-on effect is amazing and benefits us all. Maybe not in monetary terms like that but by keeping rural and regional areas of Australia thriving, the whole country benefits. Because we are all linked. The environment and renewable energy and jobs and the economy are all linked.

But don’t just take my word for it
No matter what your politics, no matter who you voted for, take a couple of minutes to check out the ad. Then, if you think these people are talking sense, please pass it on to your network. Thankyou.

The longer ad at the top of the page is the one that shows a number of people in the community. The one going to air on TV is at the bottom of the page and features Charlie, the farmer.

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Is ‘On The Run’ a bit of a misnomer?

I have completely lost count of the number of people who have had a whinge to me about trying to buy petrol. About having to stand in a big long queue at the petrol station, behind a whole ton of people who seem to want to do their grocery shopping or are waiting to get their coffee made… when all THEY want to do is just PAY for their PETROL and get OUTTA there. The same thing happens to me. Regularly.

So, the last time it did, when I finally got to the front of the queue after about 5 minutes, I thought I’d mention it to the guy behind the counter. Our conversation went sorta like this…

Me: “Hi there. Now, I know you’re probably not the person who makes all the decisions around here, but is it worth thinking about having an express lane for people who only wanna buy petrol? Kinda like the supermarket’s do?”
Him: LOL. Yes, he actually, really, laughed out loud. Then he said… “That’s not part of the On The Run mantra.”
Me: “Hmmm… that’s funny. I’m not sure if that really helps those of us who are On The Run.”

Now, I understand that they make stacks of money from people who are buying all that other stuff and getting that coffee made, but when it comes at the cost of good service to others, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. But I guess when you’re one of the big boys, you can make your own rules.


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Is technology making our lives more complicated?

I was at my hairdresser’s the other day and noticed her system for booking appointments. A big book, the size of a Kalamazoo ledger. (ummm… if you’re under 35, perhaps Google that.) Anyway, she got out the pencil and the rubber and changed an appointment in about 10 seconds flat.

I commented on her antiquated system and told her that it reminded me of my accounting system. Green 8 and 14 Column books, pencil and rubber. Yes, yes, laugh your head off. But after years of trying different bookkeepers, losing track of what was going on, deciding to get myself better informed, going to 2 MYOB sessions, getting 2 followup visits to my office to get it bought, installed, then getting my head around it all, and still failing miserably, I gave up. And went back to basics.

The really funny thing is, I used to be an accounts clerk. I’m actually really good with numbers. But my brain just wants simplicity. So I say, yes, try things, but don’t caught up in the hype that you have to do things the new, better, improved way or feel stupid because you can’t, or you don’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the internet! It brings me business. I Google everything. What did we do before Google???!!! I even have the 3 Chinese lucky coins stuck on the front of my Mac desktop, for good Feng Shui.

Back to (phone) basics?
I have a client who creates apps and I was helping him with some editing of his copy when he started talking a bit of geek-speak to me.

So I did what I always do when this happens – I pulled out my mobile phone and showed it to him. I am Smart-Phone resistant. I have a basic Nokia 110 that I bought last year because I only want text and phone calls. Because I want a small phone. And because I drop my phone regularly. It’s got gaffer tape on it. But it works just fine, the battery stays charged for ages, and it’s all I need.

My client, Glen, didn’t laugh at me like people usually do. In fact, he said he predicts a swing back to basic phones for a reasonable-sized segment of the population. When I showed my phone to a lady in a local shop later that week, she got all excited, asked me where I got it and was going to rush down there to buy one because she didn’t want a big Smart-Phone either. So Glen may be right.

Some stressed clients
The real reason for this blog is that I’ve had quite a number of conversations lately, either with my clients or with other business people who are having tech issues and getting extremely stressed out by trying to do everything and feeling like a failure when they can’t. To add insult to injury, they are comparing themselves with the people around them who CAN use technology well and who are saying ‘what’s your problem?’

It kinda reminds me of the days back at school when you’re sweating bullets, yet frozen, pen in hand, just glazed-eyed-staring-down at the exam paper in front of you, coz you don’t know the answer and everyone around you is happily scribbling away furiously.

Our Brave New World
I say we’ve created a world where we have to do lots of different things and be good at lots of different things in order to do well. Contrast this with the world just a couple of hundred years ago, when we were specialists. You were master of one thing, like a cook, or a blacksmith or a carpenter or a teacher. That’s what you did. That’s ALL you did. Now, I’m not saying that was a better world, I’m just saying that I’m sure that our brains weren’t built for so much multi-tasking. And research seems to be proving it.

Is multi-tasking bad for us?
I’ve seen a program that showed 97% of us cannot multi-task well. Even if we think we can, we actually get LESS done because we constantly have to jump from one part of our brain to another. Which of course, takes time. And slows us down. I saw an article the other day that said multi-taskers have less grey matter in their brains! So, my pledge to me is… less multi-tasking and more staying in the present and doing one thing at a time, well. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s technology that’s the problem. It’s just that we don’t know how to switch off.


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When choosing popular talent backfires

MirandaKerrI seem to be seeing a helluva lot of Miranda Kerr lately. Not in person, just her face.
On EVERYthing. From Swarzkopf hair colour to Clear Shampoo to Royal Albert china to Swarovski crystal to her own brand of skincare, Kora, it’s all making me a bit dizzy. (Actually, I just saw her Reebok ad online, so actually, yes a bit more than her face…lol) I forgot to mention Victoria’s Secret and David Jones… anyway…

I think the main winner here is Miranda, rather than the brands. Because I’m just getting to the stage where I see her face and think ‘Now what?’ Having a brand spokesperson that is beautiful, talented, well-known or well-liked is a wonderful thing but surely, sharing them with too many other brands can only dilute the message.


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Choosing the right talent

We can’t all afford big TV campaigns like Optus, but even if you’re just creating a brochure or looking for a stock library photo for your website, it’s important to make sure the people you choose to represent your brand are a good fit.

The first thing to work out is the personality of your business. Is it conservative and upmarket? Is it cheap and cheerful? Is it mumsy? Child-like? Maybe a bloke talking to other blokes, like the Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee ads? Or a mature female speaking candidly, woman-to-woman?

I’m not the target audience but I reckon Optus gets it right with their most recent series of ads featuring young Aussie comic, Josh Thomas. Now, personally, I can’t stand his stand-up comedy but I reckon he’s hysterically funny in these ads. Which I reckon will work gangbusters. Check ’em out and see what you think.

On another note, it may not be obvious at first glance but if you look closely at all 3 of the Optus TV ads, the subtle use of the Optus colours for clothing, interiors, scenery etc is a great example of good branding. Here’s a link for the first ad.

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