Category Archives: Communications

How not to sell to me

If you want to sell me something do not do any of the following:


Try to link up on LinkedIn when you are clearly a supplier who is trying to drum up business. I can see that you have already been looking at my profile and I can see from yours that you work in marketing/sales.

Do not, as someone did a while ago, show me some interesting software and then say ‘you must be able to find a use for it’. I explained that I could not think of a relevant user case at the moment but that I would obviously bear their software in mind if such a need arose. That did not stop them from haranguing me for a hour about how great their software was and that I should use it. Doh.

It does not impress me by saying as someone really did – ‘use us because we are big’. The logic being that they would not be big if they were not good. Not sure what Plato would make of that logic. No surprise then that did not work with me. The other variant is to quote a sector – we supply all of x sector – usually not the one I am in. So how is that relevant then?

Don’t send my jokey emails about your service which might or might not be relevant when you have clearly got me off a bought in mailing list. Well just don’t send me an email at all. Why is there an unsubscribe option ‘I never signed up for this list’? It’s a give away really. And I definitely do not want emails about Accounting systems, SharePoint or EPOS.

Generally pester me on the phone does not help either. Or use the phrase ‘its just a courtesy call’. Hum, no such thing. Or how about ‘we spoke a while ago’ – when I can definitely remember that we did not.

The other variant is – ‘which software do you use on your website’ – er WordPress – you could probably find that out quite easily if you looked yourself. The next question – ‘what are your plans’. Answer ‘why should I tell you?’ ‘Because I need to know what is happening in the public sector – everyone else tells me’. Well I am not going to. There was a bit of surprise expressed at that. So I was supposed to tell anyone who rang up what I was thinking of doing next. Interesting.


Provide a good service.

Have a service relevant to my needs.

Make sure your existing customers are similar to mine and are willing to have a chat with me.

Handy if you are on G-cloud.

Be willing to invest a bit of time getting to know my organisation and how you might be able to help us.

Be friendly and provide advice with no expectation of an immediate return.

I just had to share. My list of Don’ts could be a lot longer – a part two might follow.


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Filed under Communications, Marketing

Has the government digital comms community sold out, or just become more mature?

There was as time when those working in digital comms in government liked to think of themselves as pioneers, do gooders, renegades, jeans wearing, pizza eating innovators; disruptors with a start up mentality.

Is this still the case? Here are some reflections…

What is the evidence?

Govcamp the annual get together was initially a very low key event and the first couple held at the Ministry of Justice had a very last minute, free flowing atmosphere. Contrast that with this year when it was held in the shiny headquarters of the Greater London Authority with all the paraphernalia that this entailed. Queues for security checks, lots of corporate sponsors and a large organising team. (I was one of them). There was an article in a IT journal which said the event had ‘come of age’ – it was meant as a compliment.

Teacamp another freewheeling event has to some extent become more regular and organised by someone from the Government Digital Service – who, by the way, does a great job.

Government Twitter accounts are becoming more ‘regulated’. There are more messages circulating across government asking for x or y message to be retweeted. One in particular used the same wording that I spotted later in the evening on the news ticker on TV. I noticed a department talking about one of their campaigns and calling it ‘exciting’. I even saw that GDS (the Government Digital Service) getting in on the act and retweeted an NHS Choices message. How long before there is only one government Twitter account? After all who cares about Departments – surely it is the topic or campaign?

The Government Digital Service (GDS) clearly had a start up mentality. When I went to visit the first time the team were seated in the corner of a small room and I recognised many of them from earlier hack events. Now GDS has several hundred staff and a number of the original ‘pioneers’ have now moved on. There are a number of aspects where GDS is now mirroring some of the functions carried out by the old COI (Central Office of Information) such as the recent guidance on domain name registration. Dare one say that it has ‘gone corporate’?

What else?

Well there is another aspect to this as with the site taking over all government publishing everything is starting to look very similar in a standard format. Topics are being coordinated across government and clear messages are being given out. This also relates to the renamed Government Communications Service (GCS) which is starting to regulate and standardise training and steer more things centrally.

So we have Govcamp; the Government Digital Service; the Government Communications Service.

What next?

Has everything over time just become more mature and organised or is innovation being squeezed out? Will staff become interchangeable commodities as GCS starts to build on the idea of a pool of staff (as the old GICS did). Will the innovators or renegades move out to the private sector? There was a time when social media in government had an aspect of being a ‘force for good’ – has it now become a force for corporate messages…?

Have hack events also been tamed with them being a standard ‘to do’ on a tick list for which one chooses the usual candidates to organise them? Will the next step be a Government Hack Service?

Will government digital become unrecognisable from the private sector with staff moving freely between the two working on Government Campaigns? Will there be a logical progression to outsource some campaigns to benchmark what government does?

Overall is this good or bad?

What do you think?






Filed under Communications