Understanding the difference between reality and client-fiction is vital for creative work

Steve Cukrov via Adobe Stock

I once had a client in the recruitment industry, and when the CEO brought us in to present his initial marketing brief, this is what he told us:

Now, as far as I’m concerned, he hadn’t just described his business — he’d described a character from a 1980's cop show.

But that really was it. He wanted us, in his own words, to show the world that we do things differently.

Yet in the 18 months we worked…

We overestimate the importance of anything that is easy to measure

eatcute via Adobe Stock

Whatever kind of marketing you do, chances are you use a variety of measurements to track its efficacy. You probably don’t even question it: everybody tracks engagement rates, clickthrough rates, and conversions — why shouldn’t you?

But what if I were to tell you that an extremely prevalent — and under-acknowledged — cognitive bias underpins many of those metrics? And what if I were to tell you that this bias is very likely restricting your marketing’s potential impact?

The Measurability Bias

Simply put, human beings are prone to overestimate the importance of things that are easy to measure, often at the expense of…

Sometimes, it pays to charge

nenetus via Adobe stock

David Foster Wallace once wrote a story about a farmer who tries to give away an old tractor but finds that he can’t — until he decides to charge $5 for it.

This story is a remarkable way of understanding the incredible Zoom Boom of 2020, which saw the video-conferencing platform’s stock jump over 500%, making it more valuable than the seven largest airlines in the world.

Of course, the pandemic can take credit for shifting video-conferencing into the mainstream — this is a technology that’s existed for over a decade, and it required a major global catastrophe to come…

The company’s strategy promotes plant-based meat as a category, not as a brand, which is ideal — for its competitors

A Beyond Meat vegan hamburger
A Beyond Meat vegan hamburger
Hermes Rivera via Unsplash

From one perspective, Beyond Meat could hardly be in a better position.

They are almost inarguably the most recognizable and fastest-growing plant-based meat brand in the world — and this a market expected to be worth $74 billion by 2027.

In 2019, the company’s wildly successful IPO shocked many, and ever since its valuation has continued — with a small, COVID-shaped blip — to soar. They’re ramping up production, introducing exciting new products to their line, and generally kicking ass all over the place.

The only problem is their marketing seems to be taking all that success for granted.

Complacent Capitalism


Many of us use others in ways we don’t even realise, and this is how it happens.

Image: Adobe Stock

It took me slightly more than two years to realise I was using my ex-girlfriend.

Not in a malicious way, not with any clear goal in mind. But I was using her all the same.

See, I felt great around her — confident, capable, assured of my personal worth.

And of course, that’s a wonderful thing.

The only problem was none of those feelings were about her.

Don’t be seduced by yourself

A lot gets said about the way we project our desires and fantasies onto our romantic partners. But there’s another element to the equation that’s often overlooked.

When we’re constructing these idealised fantasies…

Developing a structured method of annotation changed how I read, and made every minute spent reading more intrinsically valuable.

Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

When I was a research student, I loved finding other people’s annotations in battered old library books. Seeing how another person interacted with a text always struck me as fascinating — personally revealing in a way even their journal probably wouldn’t be.

I could totally imagine a strain of self-conscious performativity slipping into a journal. But who really worries how they’re going to come across to others when marking up Of Grammatology?

Annotation is an odd mix: pragmatic, yet generally speaking…

Toby Mcinnis

Copywriter with delusions of competence

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