Halloween and the poisoned mind


We carved the pumpkins you can see in the pic yesterday with the kids in preparation for Halloween.

And the scares have already started…

I’ve already overheard one parent telling their child ‘not to eat any sweets that aren’t wrapped’ from their trick or treat bag…

‘and don’t eat any fresh fruit you’re given!’

If you’re US based you’ll know about the stories of razor blades in apples.

It seems to be pretty much unfounded although what a great viral myth to start if you’re a candy company who wants people to stick to your sweets rather than fresh fruit eh? Just saying…

There have been a few cases of nutters trying to harm kids via Halloween treats though…

In 1959, a California dentist, William Shyne, gave candy-coated laxative pills to trick or treaters. He was charged with outrage of public decency and unlawful dispensing of drugs.

In 1964, an annoyed Long Island, New York woman gave out packages of inedible objects to children whom she believed were too old to be trick-or-treating. The packages contained items such as steel wool, dog biscuits, and ant buttons. No one was hurt but she was prosecuted.

There will always be crazy, hurtful people intent on harming others but they’re not going to go away once Halloween is over.

Here are some weirder facts about Halloween I found when researching the candy thing…

Dead bodies actually do get mistaken for Halloween decorations…apparently it happens more than you might think

The Christians who hand out flyers during our village Halloween procession protesting about celebrating evil have got it wrong. Early costumes where people got dressed up as the devil with red faces, horns and costumes were all about mocking Satan. not celebrating him

The most real danger on Halloween though isn’t needles in Snickers bars or grumpy blokes in hockey masks with chainsaws, it’s something else…

…Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for pedestrians getting hit by cars.

Things that go bump in the night.


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What do you actually DO in your business?


Sometimes it’s an interesting exercise to write your own job description. What do you do in your business?

Ideas person?
Do you write the promos?
Do you create the products?
Are you basically admin?

Because if you work out what your role is within your business it makes it a lot easier to work out what to outsource.

If I strip my business down to the bare bones, my role is to build my list, communicate with my readers and generate ideas.

On a practical day to day basis that could be just an hour’s worth of booking solos and writing an email to my list.

I can make six figures just doing that and nothing else.

But by stripping it back you get to see what foundations you have to BUILD on.

So I might create a newsletter that I write over a couple of days a month.

Maybe I’ll come up with some ideas for software and outsource the project.

Perhaps I’ll ‘try out’ a few blueprint methods and outsource that too if it brings me a profit.

But all the extras can be stopped and started as stand-alone projects without affecting my income or my subscribers in any way – my business won’t fold or even be affected too badly if for some reason I can’t work very much for 3 months.

But it all comes down to knowing what I do – what my main role is.

And more important than that, keeping it simple.

If you wear too many hats eventually they flop down in front of your eyes and your vision disappears :)

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I’ve been postcard marketed to (again)

tony shepherd postcard marketing

I haven’t done any postcard marketing for a while, although co-incidentally I’ve been looking into it again recently because it works well.

Then by chance the postcard invitation you can see in the pic arrived this morning.

It’s for a book by a Brit marketer with various upsets attached.

I’ve blanked out the URL not only because I don’t want to give him free publicity but also because I haven’t read the book and it might not be something I’d recommend.

What IS interesting was the name they sent it to.

Every time I sign up for something in the UK I use a coded alteration to my name so I can track what’s been happening to my personal details.

Well this book is from someone I didn’t sign up for, so the person I DID give those details to is obviously selling or renting at least part of his list.

Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m aware.

But I’ll be keeping an eye out for whatever else they send me.

Postcard marketing…seems like a bit of a retro step perhaps?

I’m not so sure – I’ve seen more of this year than the previous few combined.

One to keep an eye on, especially if you’re a Brit.

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Ill and working from bed

Tony Shepherd valiantly working from bed

Mackbooks don’t overheat on a duvet as much as windows PC’s do

Discovered this fascinating fact because today I’m bed-ridden and feeling sorry for myself because I feel ill.

Cold / manflu whatever…

Actually got more done in the last hour that I did for most of yesterday…


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I’m using Udimi for my solo ad buys

udimi tony shepherd

Been using Udimi for buying my solo ads for slightly over a month now and I’m impressed.

It’s much easier to track clicks than it is when buying solos direct from the seller…

…AND the solo seller is aware that you can see his or her stats so that keeps them on the straight and narrow.

Some clicks that come from less than solid sources are discounted by the Udimi system so you don’t pay for those.

There’s a time scale in which the clicks you’ve purchased must be supplied

And you can see the percentage of clicks that come from top-tier countries such as the US, UK, Canada etc

And the conversion rates I’m getting are good, although I don’t subscribe to the theory of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ lists like so may marketers do – I think it’s my job as a marketer to get any traffic source to resonate with me, subscriber and eventually become a buyer.

But I’d recommend grabbing a free account at Udimi if you buy solo ads

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Blackpool Illuminations


tony shepherd at blackpool illuminations

If you were born in the north of England into a working-class background as I was, and you have a children of a certain age, the chances are you’ll have been taken to ‘see Blackpool lights’ as a child.

One dark October or November night you’ll have been bundled into the car, possibly with warm blankets for when you fall asleep on the journey home and then driven to Blackpool to see the gaudiest, brightest display of bulb-work outside Bollywood.

The whole thing is very nostalgic for both my wife and I (she’s a northern girl too) and we’ve been taking our kids every year since they were old enough to walk. Actually since before they were able to walk, when we drove them through in the car or pushed them in the buggy.

We went last night.

It hasn’t changed much since I was there as a kid, except the street vendors are a little more pushy.

I got accosted by the same gypsy woman twice trying to sell me ‘lucky’ heather.

The second time was downright threatening as she warned me ‘not to cross a gypsy’ and seemed to basically curse me.

She told me she ‘was powerful and could influence events’

Not that bloody powerful or she’d be doing something warmer than trying to sell straggly bits of heather on a cold wet night I imagine.

Last time this happened to me years ago (a grumpy woman selling pegs I refused to buy called at my door) I cursed the gypsy back, including forking my fingers at her and spitting on the floor (actually I missed and spat on my own shirt but it added to the effect).

She looked more worried than I’d expected.

But going to see the lights is more than getting cursed, cold and buying all manner of crap – it’s like a pagan festival that marks the descent into winter. The kids are already saying that Halloween. bonfire night and Christmas are just around the corner.

We’re lighting a fire almost every night now and our food had turned from summery salads to more robust dishes – curries, casseroles and rich, wine-laden stews that are left to slowly cook all day and fill the house with aromas that make you want your dinner at 10am

It’s a great time of year as the days get shorter and colder, and a great time to work from home :)

I spoke to a vendor last night night – a local man who was selling battery-operated neon-looking swords, windmills, light-sabres and butterflies,

He says he can make enough money while the illuminations are on (29th August – 9th November this year) to last him for the rest of the year.

It’s mostly imported from China and he said the mark-up on each item (his profit) was something I wouldn’t believe.

He didn’t elaborate as to whether that was good or bad.

But obviously nostalgia sells. All these items were aimed at kids and bought by parents.

There were branded items- Minions, Spongebobs, Loom banding stuff, boy band stuff and lots more

No one seemed to worry about licensing or legality, and no one seemed to worry about pricing although to be fair every price I saw seemed to be perfectly pitched to just seem cheap enough to be a bargain.

The most crowded stalls / stands seemed to be the people who weren’t pushy and simply displayed their wares.

The gypsy, the hawkers and the pushy sellers were given wide berth.

I’d love to know the sales figures…






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What’s your elevator pitch?

You know what an elevator pitch is?

It’s supposed to be a short, 30 second to a minute pitch that you can blurt out to potential customers or big-shots when you’re travelling up in a lift with them.

It’s nonsense really although you still hear many marketers say you should have an elevator pitch that sums up your business in a few short sentences.

But WHY?

If someone will only give me a 30 second meeting I really don’t want them involved in my business regardless of HOW big a shot they are.

It can be handy at parties when people ask what you do I suppose but them again who wants pitching to at a party?

My elevator pitch doesn’t say anything about my business at all

It’s more about why I do what I do.

‘I run a business that allowed me to be around when my kids were growing up’

Not many people (especially men) actually ask what my business actually IS after that – they’re usually deep in thought.

And those that DO want to know then want to know the FULL story, not a 30 second potted pitch version.

Works for me…

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My ‘travelling light’ working away from home set up

tony shepherd working on the road

1. iPad

2. Apple Bluetooth full-size keyboard

3. Notepad and pen


Add an internet connection and that’s all I need to run my business from pretty much anywhere we want.

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Customers you really don’t want

Got an email from someone a few days ago who wanted to subscribe to my newsletter, but wanted to know if there was any other way to pay apart from Clickbank, because…

“Clickbank have banned me for buying then refunding too many times”

er, no – don’t think so mate …

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Cutting off a man’s finger


My great uncle was an intelligence officer in India in WWII

I have a couple of his possessions he left to us when he died  – an old pair of binoculars, a lovely old mahogany folding ruler and a long ivory pen-knife which is really more like a stiletto blade when it’s unfolded – it must be ten inches long.

The kids have no real interest in any of these artefacts except the knife, and that’s because of the story attached.

One day he was in his office doing a briefing with some other men when a yell went up. A man just outside the office had been bitten by a venomous snake. I like to think it was a cobra but we don’t know for sure.

It had bitten him on the little finger as he’s put his hand up to try to defend himself.

Quickly my Uncle who was pretty quick-witted ordered the other men in the room to bring the man in and hold his hand down firmly on the desk.

He them proceeded to cut the man’s little finger off with his pen knife in order to stop the poison travelling into his bloodstream and killing him.

I like to show the kids the little ‘bloodstains’ left on the knife blade but it’s really just rust.

But they remember the story, and they always will.

The binoculars and the ruler look nicer, are probably worth more historically, and relate more to the actual job my Uncle did…

…but the knife…

THAT’S got the story.

That’s what gets remembered.

That’s why I use stories in my marketing.


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