Friday's Week 1


Random thoughts from a marketing non-conformist: Alan Forrest Smith

Friday’s Week 1.

Friday's week is a collection of random thoughts from this week in no particular order.

What a crazy week it’s been and just 5 days until our wedding.

First I just wanted to let you know that on most Fridays I will send out this random yet dedicated email that carries a collection of thoughts and review of the week. I’ll share things that take place here in the office and some other stuff that passes by over a week. I hope that’s OK with you.

Getting married: September 17th New York, City Hall: I’ll tell you a bit more about our wedding in a moment.

The Letter: This week I finally put pen to paper for a letter I am writing for a client and partner. It’s for specialist life insurance but it’ll be nothing like you will have read for life insurance that’s for sure. I love the letter but it is one of two so we will test the angle and offer.

Honestly it’s taken around 8-weeks I think to get it onto paper and I’ll explain why. Today’s marketplaces are so damned noisy you have to create something that stands-out. To make any kind of marketing stand out and get noticed I don’t mean a farting cat or piano playing monkey. I mean a real piece that is laser targeted to a degree that only those that are really interested will get the marketing. And second it has to be so mindset focused it hits already embedded thoughts in the mind of the buyer so when they read this letter they feel as though I am stepping into their inner mental conversation.

So finally after reading what I had to read and then digesting every note into my brain the result finally fell out at my feet or I should say onto my desk. Now this letter hasn’t been tested yet but for me it’s a killer letter if ever I have seen one. Maybe more on that in the future and before you ask no I won’t be sharing that letter here.


Of course I started the week recovering from what felt like a nice weekend but a strange one all of the same. You see I finally had an invite from my family to a family house party. Not a big deal you might think but that is the first time for almost ten years I have had an official invite to a family gathering. It seems like no one knew what to do with me during my divorce and after my divorce so they simply ignored me and left me out in fear of what others might think.

So my first appearance after a long time was weird for this reason. The last time I saw my nephew he was 8 years old and now he is 17 years old. My niece was 21 and now she is almost 30-years. They had totally changed into new people - adults! Seeing them was nice but I did feel how short life is. I think they were all happy to see me again to the point a few tears; nerves and other things appeared to surface.


I had a call from a client. They had spent literally thousands on their new website. It was crap and I mean really crap. They were upset and frankly after seeing it I felt upset for them. It really isn't that unusual and I see this time and time again and you know what I can’t see this kind of bad bad bad craftsmanship slowing down.

First the web has done some great things. One of those great things is it has made business as easy as we want it to be. They talk about information and speed of information yet one huge problem is misinformation. OMG it seems like everyone now is an expert but an expert of nothing in particular.It used ti take years and even decades to become a real expert. Now the word expert has been relegated to a seminar attendee that gets a fake certificate proclaiming them to be  expert.

So a person that buys a book on social media is now and expert on social media. A person that goes to a training event and learns a little about WordPress is now a WordPress expert. Anyway I am rambling a bit so let me get to the point.

In the good old days (I am now old enough to say that thank you) when we used to open real shops and real business we would invest a ton into the shop or office itself. I know myself I easily spent well over £100,000 fitting out one of my salons – easily!

Yet here is the strange thing; Almost 100% of first contact into a business is done online these days. That means the first thing seen about any business is their website before the shop or anything else. Yet time and time again I see clients looking and searching for the cheapest option for their websites and other online tools. It might be intangible and it might seem like the future but the future arrived sometime ago and it is very real! If clients can't or don't invest in their online tools (and that is all they are) they won't get the results they want. Even I spend around 5-10k annually on my own web stuff.


This week I had to take my trousers to a new tailor for adjustment ready for my wedding in New York. When I got to the door it was locked with no lights on inside.  The shop inside looked like a real creative almost eccentric place of work. Everything was old but really high quality materials like oak, lace and lots of vintage everything lying around everywhere. Finally there was a little bit of scrap paper stuck on the door with sellotape. It said , “if I am not here ring me” so I rang. A lady that sounded like she was from Jamaica answered the phone.

She said she is shopping right now for her dinner but she will leave her trolley in the aisle and come over. Finally she arrived. A small black woman with long dread locks with a huge smile from one side of her face to the other.

In two minutes she shared most of her life with us. She was a university lecturer that has retired. She was a philosophy professor from St Lucia, all her families were now in the USA, she didn’t like the Americans and she is also a Machiavellian. And that was before she discussed my trousers. You don’t really meet people like her anymore, unique one-offs doing their own thing. I will report on my trousers once they arrive of course but we can still learn lot from business from these old school guys! We also argued about the length of my trousers. I know best!

I reconnected with an old client yesterday and he finally paid for dinner (thanks Neil). His very first direct mailer scored an 11% response. That wasn’t bad considering most direct mail is just 0.2%. This was in 1999 when I wrote his first direct mail letter. Direct mail is something I have always been good at. I started that stuff in 1991. I still write stuff for him now and then. Although I see him on Facebook it’s been a while since we met. We met and ate and laughed. Two years ago him and his wife decided to adopt a child. What an incredible gift to give to a child but what a long process. I have to say I admired it I really did. Thankfully all is good but his waistline was bigger whilst I of course look better than him!


It’s sickeningly sad to see what is happening with all these poor people from Syrian and other war ravaged places. It’s also incredible how the subject really raises issues with so many. Some want them left to die, some want them locked in cages, some want them stopped and some want hem in safety. Bob Geldof offered his home as did many others. I feel at a loss what to do but can we allow these monsters in black to carry on their rampage?

I wrote some words about it and recorded them and put them on YouTube as part of my project that supports my I Am Bastard I A War Book. This is also a play.


Being a writer gives me a lot of freedom. As we have homes in Tbilisi Georgia going there is cool for me as it is a real place with a rawness that allows me to think. It is raw and still relatively untouched by visitors. I can also speak the language now - almost! So the past two weeks or so we have been renovating two of our apartments there so we can have more space to create when we go. I can’t say they are huge but I will say they are perfect for now. The only problem I have is dealing with builders from a post communist country isn’t easy. They want to do everything they way they do it and rarely listen. Maybe after the wedding we will go over and get them back under control.


By the way I discovered - periscope - and it is going to be a brilliant tool for your business and mine. It is owned by Twitter and is going to be extremely powerful in most marketplaces that master it quickly. Shaun T online uses it amazingly well.

By the way MENTOR is still open and I am still sifting through the messages for PARTNER. I think next year is going to be my best year ever and the best year ever for a couple of my partners!


So next week I am getting married to Tamuna - my darling Georgian warrior woman. Not American Georgian but Carvel Georgina from the republic of Georgia. Nothing is really planned apart from the flight to New York. We arrived at 1:05pm but American airports are pretty notorious for their slow pace at passing through. Once we get off the flight we have to rush like crazy to City Hall in Manhattan where we have to register so we can be married the next day. It has to be the next day as my best friend is flying in for the day to be my best man. The office closes at 3:45pm so I am not sure if we will make it yet I think we will make it. It’s a truly exciting time for us both. We have some stuff planned but not too much. It’s going to be really cool.

That's about Friday's week. Please feel free to share your weeks thoughts below.

I hope you have a great weekend and give yourself some time to think. I will need to think over this insurance letter a little more so I can get it polished up for a huge national campaign that it is supporting.

That’s it I’m out of here.

Until the next notes from the my armchair