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a blog by Chris Barrow

Back to Black

Eight days off the grid and 301 emails waiting for me when I sat down in The Bunker yesterday (Sunday) morning.

Cue violin….. As a sole trader I have no choice but to invest my Sunday in catch up mode as the travel calendar is full, I’m in demand (thank you) and Phillippa has the unenviable task of fitting it all in. End violin.

About 5 years ago I conducted a time and motion study on myself to see how many emails I could deal with in an average working hour at my desk. The answer was c.35 and that included marketing collateral that I would scan and delete, all the various blogs and ezines and then the REAL emails from clients asking questions and from Team CB requesting clarification and direction.

So when I saw 301 as my email count on Saturday evening, my first thought was an OMG at the expectation of 8.6 hours of dogged inbox work, even before I started on the paperwork, my weekly financial reconciliation and preparation for 6 days of travel ahead.

That’s why I sat down with Annie on Saturday and explained that my Sunday would be in The Bunker – she, as always, replied with “you crack on love” – which is one of the numerous reasons I consider myself a lucky man.

After a cracking Saturday evening including a dog-walk to The Elk, a couple of pints with Jon and back home for steak, chunky chips and béarnaise sauce, washed down with a cheeky Australian Organic Red, I arrived at 07:30 on Sunday morning in The Bunker in my jammies and started into those emails from the 18th November onwards.

Emails all done in 3 hours.

In fact I wrote a sum total of 36 emails answering or asking questions in response to 301 incoming – and I’ll bet you can guess why.

Apart from a smattering of blogs and ezines (Seth, Colin, Brain Pickings, The Medical Futurist et al), the majority of the rest (let’s say 250/301) were interruption marketing trying to sell me something and utilising the excuse that it was:

  1. Thanksgiving

  2. Black Friday

  3. Cyber Monday

  4. Christmas

Accounting for around 80% of my incoming traffic during one week off the grid.

Have I bought anything as a result?

Nope – my only online purchase today has been a paperback novel reviewed in a printed magazine I took with me (Wired).

My assumption is that whilst I was walking up and down Northumberland beaches with Annie and dogs, blissfully avoiding the internet, you were ploughing your way steadily through this tsunami of cloud-based bollocks arriving from every conceivable direction.

My only surprise is that I haven’t been offered a super deal to book my next summer holiday or a fast-track way to order an Easter Egg (we are, of course, precisely 28 days away from that next onslaught).

The world of on-line interruption marketing is a place of madness, of noise, of irrelevance to my everyday needs.

It has become a giant wall against which manufacturers and retailers are throwing more shit that we have ever witnessed in the actuarial and algorithmic expectation that some of it will stick.

It frustrates me that it works. I admit that I did capitulate earlier this year and buy a pair of Mahabis slippers (no regrets) but think about the energy that has been expended to attract that one single purchase?

Of course we book and buy online – the convenience is fabulous and after cruising around big Tesco in Altrincham on Saturday afternoon looking for a parking space, online purchasing is progress.

I don’t have a problem with the internet but I do object to being inundated with advertising.

Yet again, over the days ahead, I’ll be gradually culling the number of incoming emails that I have attracted by signing in to somebody else’s free wifi – I will get the numbers back to more practical levels and then the game will start all over again.

Here’s my thought for the day………

In amongst all this algorithmic shit hitting the wall – how effective is your online marketing?

Interesting, isn’t it, that even though I had so much to do on Sunday, I still took the time to read the blogs and ezines previously mentioned – largely because they don’t try and sell me stuff – they try to fascinate me.

Isn’t that what we should all be trying to with our clients and patients?

Fascinate them?

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