Signs and Wonders

What’s a cat gotta do to get noticed?

As a freelancer, I wear two hats – the floppy, creative one and the one that means business. I’m like a dual aspect room, only with headgear.

Similarly, my customers fall into two categories – the ones I know and the ones I don’t. So how do you write for a customer you don’t know? The same way that hedgehogs mate – thoughtfully!

On face value, having both products (existing books and content) and services (writing to order) would seem to suggest different approaches, but it all comes down to the same magical equation: outcome = income. Customers need to know about you – what you do and why they should choose instead of one of your competitors (okay, the pope, once installed, is an exception).
Let’s face it, social media will only take you so far; and sometimes it can all get a bit…well…sociable. Honestly now, how many businesses have you tried purely on the basis of their tweets and likes? Not many, methinks. I’ve bought books thanks to social media, but I’ve never booked a plumber. And how do you reach those customers who don’t sit glued to a screen all day?
Word-of-mouth, it seems to me, only really works when someone has something to talk about, which takes us right back to customers knowing about you in the first place.
The Internet offers a plethora (love that word) of ideas and approaches. Looking into just some of the options has given me food for thought about how I could reach new customers. Although, being lazy (funny how it’s always called energy conservation except when it’s a person…), I simply did one quick web search and found plenty of info at Discount Banner Printing.
In a word: advertising.
Clearly, the possibilities have moved on a bit since Bill Posters faced prosecution. (Remember him?!) At one end of my imaginary scale there’s the noble sandwich board – which, take it from me, is both inedible and tricky to convey on public transport. Alternatively, you could push the boat out and hire a plane to do some skywriting. I did consider it, but I’m very particular about my apostrophes. And money.
More practically, stickers or labels combining text and graphics put the message where it will be seen, either in a static location or on the move. You can also get window clings in vivid colours and detail.
I’m keen to promote my business, but I want results. For instance, I wouldn’t take up roller-skating just to advertise my wares. Given my sense of balance, that outcome would be out cold and inpatient!
I’ll leave you with this well-known, anonymous poem – it speaks for itself.
The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise!


  1. Chloe says:

    This post made me laugh many times! I use the word plethora as much as possible, but somehow it always sounds sarcastic. Love the poem too!

  2. Derek says:

    It's one of my favourite words too. Quite fond of maelstrom and miasma as well.

  3. Deb says:

    Great post, Derek and you're right, I've never hired a plumber on the basis of an advertising tweet or a Facebook page either. Funny enough my daughter and I were just talking about advertising that works and a fellow art student of hers created some small perspex blocks with an iphone app symobol on them, which when scanned will take you to his website. He dotted them all around Bristol city centre and it's attracted a lot of interest in his work. I think people need to work out the type of people who they want to work with and then work out how to target them. So, if for example, you like writing web copy for businesses, get some advertising bookmarks/bus cards made up and leave dot them around in unusual places such as elevators (only leave one at a time though), on the seat of a bus/train or insert one in a newspaper in a cafe. Or you could wear a printed t-shirt with something on it relating to your writing. For my birthday I was bought a t-shirt that reads; 'Careful or you might appear in my next novel'. I wear it to the gym and the amount of people who have come up to me and asked if I'm really a writer has been astonishing!
    Clever advertising works:)

  4. Derek says:

    Hi Deb, you've come up with some great advertising ideas there. Like you say, it's about understanding your target market and finding new and inspirational ways of getting their interest

  5. motheroad says:

    Derek, you wonderful clucker! I nominate your blog for a Liebster Award, for exactly the sort of content that makes you great: poems about codfish vs. chickens. You can't get that elsewhere on the web. Anyhow, to find out more about Liebster, visit

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