Merriam-Webster (lovely lady, by the way), has produced a fascinating feature which determines when a word was first used in print. Surfing through the years, it’s somewhat surprising how long ago some commonly used marketing terms were first used.

‘Direct marketing’ was first used in 1961, and it follows that ‘database’ appears a year later. ‘Big data’ dates back to 1996.

‘Case study’ dates back to 1914 – usually referring to medical histories – the year of the start of WW1. If only there had been a cautionary case study showing what would happen if you asked thousands of young men to go ‘over the top’.

‘Email’ was, of course, first written in the early 1980s, and ‘e-commerce’ in 1993. 1999 gave us ‘blog’ (and ‘clickbait!), ‘vlog’ followed just three years later.

‘White paper’ was first used in 1884, but it’s not clear when marketing hijacked it and removed the necessity of governmental origin.

The first known use of ‘social media’ was in 2004, the year of Facebook’s launch, despite platforms such as Six Degrees and MySpace existing earlier.

And the word ‘marketing’ itself? 1561.  Which makes sense as it was the 1600s when posters were first used for promotion, and the first newspaper published leading to paid advertising becoming available.

Incidentally, the word ‘guru’ was first coined in 1613 – a year that most self-proclaimed marketing gurus seem to be stuck in.



As Storm Aileen hits the UK, it’s interesting to learn that the reason the Met Office started naming weather disturbances was to increase public engagement through social media. Apparently, we are more likely to relate to a christened danger than one without a moniker.

If that’s so, and social media stats seem to indicate that it is, surely they should go one step further and give the storm a name that reflects its status and nature.

I give you:

Storm Boris: Blustery, probably harmless but may cause accidental damage

Storm Nigel: Should have died out quickly, but is lingering annoyingly

Storm Freddie: Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening

Storm Brexit: Welcomed by the majority who just ‘wanted a little rain for the garden’, only realising later that it creates widespread havoc and destruction





Four letters are currently striking fear into the hearts of marketers, causing more anxiety than could be found in a cinema full of 8-year-olds forced to watch the new IT movie.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), 99 articles and 173 recitals worth of unadulterated text, kicks in on 25th May 2018, representing the biggest change to data protection laws in over 20 years.

In terms of data, the public will have greater access to the data held, and intelligence on how it is being used. No longer will marketers be able to send emails without the recipient’s consent – ‘assumed consent’ becomes a thing of the past, and double opt-in and the right to be forgotten will become mandatory under GDPR.  And the fine for disregarding the new law will be larger.

However, contrary to some of the scare stories being circulated, B2B marketers shouldn’t too alarmed. What is clear is that the when dealing with employees of corporates, that is limited companies, LLPs, partnerships in Scotland and government departments, the rules for telephone and direct mail are the same, opt-out. When emailing these individuals you do not need their prior permission, although you do of course have to offer a clear opt-out process.

So all you B2C marketers, maybe it’s time to move over to the dark side of B2B. It may not be as sexy, but we can still test virgin lists.




I phone

The new iPhone X is launched next week, hailed by Apple as a large ‘leap forward’. This £999 contraption has an edge-to-edge screen, a face recognition system and no home button.

I believe that the now old fashioned method of accessing your phone – by using your finger print on a touchpad – is secure enough. I don’t think that my face is any more unique than my fingerprint. Apple disagree, saying that the odds of touch ID being unlocked by a stranger are 50,000-1, rising to 1,000,000-1 for facial ID. Whooppee.

It’s that sort of reasoning that makes me even more certain that iPhones are purchased as an accessory rather than a functioning gadget. They are probably one of the only companies in the world that don’t conduct user research. They can’t do, evidenced by the removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.

Practicality is my main concern when purchasing a phone. Yes, I like to have the latest version, but it needs to be functional in a way that benefits me. Interestingly I’ve met two people recently who definitely will not be queuing to purchase Apple’s new baby.

The first told me that she never bought anything at launch. She let other people find out the faults, and would only buy a new gadget after it had been on the market a decent time. The other simply will not purchase a phone without a removable battery.  The more I think about this, and my almost psychotic obsession with ensuring my current mobile’s charge remains over 90%, I reckon I will follow his stance for my next purchase.

Which will definitely not be an iPhone X.

(Oh, and it’s referred to as the ‘iPhone 10’. But written as the ‘iPhone X’. Ha, clever eh.)


There’s a cyclist in Cambridge who travels around the city with a webcam on his helmet, verbally challenging motorists, bus drivers and pedestrians whenever they offend his 2-wheel sensibilities.

Whenever wronged, he catches up with the offender (easily done in Cambridge’s grid locked traffic) and confronts them with their offences, which range from walking on a cycle path to not giving him enough space when overtaking.

His party trick is to point to his helmet-cam and shout – “I’m recording you, you’ll be on YouTube tonight! Want to see yourself on YouTube tonight?!”

He usually has a point. Watching the video coverage (yes, he does actually post it on YouTube), it’s clear that in most cases that he is not receiving enough consideration as a cyclist, particularly by bus drivers and white van man.

However, there’s a strong sense that he’s actually waiting to have his cycling rights abused. He seems to crave the confrontation to avenge his righteous indignation. I imagine him circumnavigating the Cambridge ring road day after day, acting as bait for careless road users, offering himself as a sacrifice in the name of cyclists’ rights.

As for the YouTube threat, I haven’t once seen evidence of a cornered offender cowering with fright.  “Not YouTube, please not YouTube, I’ll do anything, mend your punctures, clean you saddle with my tongue, hand-wash your lycra…….”.