The Lidl Incident
Now, before we start, let me say this:
Perhaps I should have intervened before this escalated.
Perhaps I should have told a staff member, or even Terry's Dad.
But I'm glad I didn't, because then I wouldn't be able to write you this email.
I was picking up some bits from Lidl recently.
It's not my favourite supermarket by any stretch - their aisles of temptation are far inferior to those of Aldi - but they've got a fresh bakery, and I wanted some fresh bread.
I'm sure there's a lesson there on a hungry crowd, but that's not what we're talking about today.
Instead, I want to share the incident that happened when little Terry the Thief* ran wild.
Terry's name has been changed for his protection. And because I forgot what his Dad actually called him.
I was in the bakery aisle, squeezing some buns to work out which were softest, when Terry turned up.
He was with his Dad. And he was about 4 years old.
Terry's Dad looked exhausted.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to work out why. The newborn baby in his arms explained everything.
I don't know whether Terry knew how tired his Dad was and saw the perfect opportunity to strike, or if he just got lucky with his timings...
But Terry saw the fresh croissants in the bakery aisle. And his eyes lit up.
In fairness, they did look delectable, and they were at his head height.
Now, it was clear that Terry knew he wasn't supposed to touch the croissants, because he threw a quick glance in his Dad's direction to see if he was looking, before taking a step toward them.
He paused. Another glance at Dad. One down the aisle behind him.
A second later he had a croissant in his hand.
This is probably the point at which I should have intervened, but I wanted to see how this panned out.
One more glance at Dad, and Terry had shoved almost half of this almighty croissant into his tiny mouth.
It was at this point Terry's Dad realised what was going on and promptly removed it from his son's mouth - unchewed but soggy.
It was clear that he was deciding whether to put it back when he caught me watching.
"Blimey Terry, you can't do that mate." He said.
"I'm going to have to pay for this now."
The funny thing is most business owners are like Terry and his dad when it comes to how they communicate in their marketing.
If you went for a drink with them outside the business they'd be like little Terry.
Conscious that no one's watching and behaving accordingly.
But as soon as they're writing an email or letter to prospects or clients they turn into Terry's Dad.
Conscious that they're being watched and trying to act in the professional manner in which they think they should.
I often talk about how effective marketing works by helping you build a relationship with your audience.
And your audience is made up of normal human beings, like you and I, not robots.
So if any marketing you send sounds corporate or overly professional, it won't resonate with your readers and won't help you build a relationship that creates loyal customers.
When it comes to your marketing, be more like Terry.
There's little benefit in being intentionally provocative or crude. But by being authentic, your marketing will be more effective.