Winston Churchill and white papers

Marketing tools emanate from a variety of sources, but only white papers can trace their history back to one of history’s most consequential figures. During the 1920s, the United Kingdom faced some tricky political issues in the Middle East. Then a Member of Parliament, Winston Churchill asked his staffers to develop a paper exploring the […]

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Stupid questions contain brilliant marketing insight

Many people will tell you there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Yes, there are questions that trigger involuntary eye-rolling. Sometimes they’re questions we’ve heard ten times too often. Sometimes they’re just plain dumb. But when it comes to communicating with prospects and customers, stupid questions are often a remarkably deep source of wisdom. […]

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“Storytelling” in marketing isn’t a new idea

Just as each generation believes it’s the first to discover the joy of sex, marketers and managers who stumble upon the power of storytelling often believe they’ve unearthed an extraordinary innovation. In reality, they’re simply learning what generations of their predecessors already knew and successfully employed. I chuckle every time I see a marketer promoting […]

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Copyrights don’t give you a right to copy

I was surprised to see a favorite non-profit had committed an illegal act. On the third page of a recent newsletter, they reprinted an item from Reader’s Digest. It was germane to their mission, and they kindly included a credit line. Still, they broke the law. Which law? Copyright law. Unless they formally obtained permission from […]

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Do you suffer from the education curse?

There’s a phenomenon I’ve long observed affecting the ability of people to write clearly and effectively. Economists and psychologists have referred to the phenomenon as the “curse of knowledge.” In simple terms, it’s what happens when we fail to recognize others don’t know what we do. When we try to communicate with them, we use […]

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Eschew obfuscation to write better

When presenting workshops on writing more effectively, I always tell attendees the most important advice I can offer is to eschew obfuscation. If you’re scratching your head, don’t feel bad. The two words are unfamiliar to most people. “Eschew” is a verb that means deliberately avoiding something or some act. If you’re allergic to okra, […]

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