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What not to market

See the Sadvertising link down there in the right column? That belongs to Wily, an old WarBirds crony who happens to be a marketing consultant. You can tell he’s cool by his use of a four-letter handle that starts with W.

Wily commented on my potential business cards and when I asked him to elaborate, not only did he mock up some samples, but he gave my whole approach a marketing makeover.

His business-card design is certainly more eye-catching than mine, but possibly most helpful was his advice that I drop the cute quote from my e-mail signature.

If you’ve had any e-mail contact with me over the last 14 years, you’ve probably seen the quote that sits under my contact info and micro-resume. I do love that quote, since I think it sums up the human condition succinctly and with humour. Wily points out that the quote is dated – true, it’s nearly 20 years old now – and he made a point that strikes right at the heart of us writers:

“Remember, you’re a ‘creative’,” he wrote. “The rest of the world is NOT. What you see as irony, amusing, clever, can be seen any number of ways by someone else.” (I modified his punctuation.)

That’s a lesson not only for business cards and e-mail signatures, but for stories as well. It means “kill your darlings.” It means “don’t use private jokes.” It means “don’t talk down to your audience.” Lessons, lessons everywhere….

By now, you’re probably wondering about the quote, unless we’ve communicated through e-mail. It comes from an episode of “Northern Exposure” called “Animals R Us“, broadcast in 1991 and written by Robin Green. Green has won several Emmy awards for writing and supervising/co-executive/executive producing “Northern Exposure” and “The Sopranos”. Nice pedigree, eh?

The line comes from Grandma Woody, a fictional grandmother of Woody Allen played by the diminuitive Sparkle Stillman. She lectures Ed about capturing human behaviour on film and comes out with this line, my quote: “All we are, basically, are monkeys with car keys.”

So it’s struck from my e-mail sig, which now looks more professional, but I did find a place for it to go….

Now, time to get cracking on a Web page for Alex E.

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