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Look, here's the problem. Your company website is full of 101 design clichés. It features stock photography of businessmen shaking hands & sufficiently ethnically diverse people having fun. You talk about vertical integration and synergies. You're currently working on a Business Process Map. You not only wear a suit but you wear a tie as well. You come in on a Monday and sit down and wonder what the hell happened.

We're all lucky to work in one the most exciting, ever changing and cutting edge industries there is. But visit any industry conference and you wouldn't believe it.

Take away the plasma screens and interactive booths and InternetWorld could easily be Naidex. In fact, Naidex is probably the more interesting of the two to visit. But you get the point, a whole heap of men in suits talking about being "complete solutions providers" as if they were photocopier salesmen.

What happened here? Where did the joy go? When did digital marketing go from exciting to everyday business? After reading a few posts recently, Fadi Shuman's post on Innovation, Chris Hoskin's post on Flashturbation and most of all Geoff Barraclough's post about the Drapers conference. It seems that the industry has reached a point where the Solutions Consultants have taken over, and we're feeling a dip in true innovation.

So how do we return to those pioneering days? I think we have to learn how to enjoy what we do again. In this post, I spell out ten different ways I keep enjoying what I do. The whole grumpy thing is just an act...

It could also spell out the ways why I'm so goddamn chaotic, but that's another matter.

  1. Cool

    My customers are damned cool. My customers are World War II fighter pilots, famed authors and have consorted with Royalty. How do I know this? Because I've spoken with them. Because I've got into a car and drove around visiting them, the single most useful and fulfilling thing I have ever done. Sitting in their kitchens and talking with them about why they visit our site, what they like and what they hate. What they believe in and what they wish for.

    You need to understand your customers, empathise with them and speak their language. Realise how cool they are, and you'll love every time they get in contact with you.

  2. Rebels

    Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things.

    We need to release the maniacs, the guys who sit in darkened rooms and change the world. Twitter was not created by performing a Gap Analysis. Have a vision, be obstinate & bloody minded in achieving it. Hang out with the misfits in your organisation, see what's going on up there and work hard to make sure it comes through to fruition.

    Reject InternetWorld and hang out at FOWD & FOWA instead. Don't go to SXSW to network, go to get plastered with the guy who goes on to truly crack social online shopping.

  3. Aliens

    Every company in your industry is doing the same thing as you, copying ideas . How can your industry grow if it's so cannibalistic?

    Consort with aliens. Look outside your clique, your group, your industry. If you're a fashion retailer, go see if you can pay a visit to someone who sells power tools. If you're a B2B business offering complete end-to-end turnkey integration solutions (and frankly, shame on you ), then go visit someone who does Landscape Gardening. How do they handle the after sales experience? How do they keep the relationship and conversation going with the customer? Next week I'm going to visit a sex toy warehouse.

  4. Play

    Transformers are the best toy ever made.You need some you time. To try to give shape that little idea that's been nagging in the back of your head but you can't but a business case just yet. Take time out, play, try, succeed, maybe even fail a couple of times. Don't be afraid of failure. If I don't get time to play, I'll go crazy.

  5. Argue

    Be passionate, argue, fight. Stand your ground. If you're clientside, then you and your agency should have the same objectives. Personally I really enjoy arguments with Mr Boag as well as with other people.

    If you're agency side, then IT IS YOUR JOB to argue with your client. Don't just execute whatever they say - nothing annoys me more than when my agencies do that, if I wanted a factory I'd do it myself. What I want is for someone to tell and show me how it should be done.

  6. Speak

    Damn it. You're clever. You know way, way more than I do. Yes, I know this isn't hard. But really. I have no idea how SEO actually works. I don't really know how campaign attribution should happen. I don't know why I would spend money on a proper analytics suite when Google's is free. 

    But I bet you know, so why don't you share? Write a blog, write on someone else's (like here!), host workshops, speak at conferences. Impart your wisdom, give us insight & speak your mind. I mean, I have the attention span of a five year old and the communication skills of a teenage boy. If I can do it then so can you.

  7. Share

    Information is worthless if you keep it to yourself. I bet if you looked in your databases, you'd have information that is of no use to your business but would be the Golden Fleece to someone else. For example - I can roughly tell what the elderly currently think they are allergic to. I also know that Lancashire Hotpot is most popular in, you guessed it, Lancashire. But I also know what's the most popular meal in Glasgow, Cardiff & Brighton. Ain't that interesting. Sharing data not only gives you a warm fuzzy, but it also prompts you to look for trends in unexpected places.

  8. Evangelise

    Evengelist BoyYou need to promote yourself, because no-one else is going to. This is one piece of advice my mother gave me (along with "You'll never be the best, because there's always someone else in the world better than you" and "It's popularity that matters" -  years before Kristin Chenoworth said it, I might add).

    In a similar manner, no one is going to promote your website internally apart from you. This is in fact most important to B2B websites, where there's not a hard and fast revenue value to report each month. You need to evangelise, be the champion, stand your ground when all around you are making woeful design decisions by committee. You'll feel better for it and your working environment with improve leaps and bounds.

  9. DIY

    Aphids!Entrepreneurial spirit. It's a wonderful thing. Love your websites. Treat them with tender loving care as if they were the chilli plants you're trying to grow on your spare room windowsill. You gotta look after them yourself. Personally take it on to wipe away the greenfly of poor user experience, or take a weekend out to make sure it's being fed with good clean product data.

  10. .....Make it your own

    These are just my ways of keeping my job joyful. If I wanted a boring job, I would have stuck with being an accountant. You'll have other ways of keeping the fun, why not tell me about them?

Matthew Curry

Published 5 February, 2010 by Matthew Curry

Matt Curry is Head of E-commerce for online sex toy retailer LoveHoney. He spends a lot of time working on user experience and customer satisfaction is his highest priority. He frequently has to be penetration tested. You can follow him on Twitter, although he does often talk about dildos. He also has a LinkedIn profile, where he has to act professional.

19 more posts from this author

Comments (17)

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Brilliant post. I’m going to start using these questions immediately. It’s critical for your readers to get engaged and I have had trouble hearing back from them. I get frequent comments through email, but not back at the blog. This will help a lot. Just a little grease to spark the conversation. I can see how this will start something

over 6 years ago


Tahir Fayyaz

Thanks for an excellent post Matt and great to see an original view on ecommerce for once. I have always thought abut going to FOWA and FOWD as all these internet trade shows are just full of sales people and lack any new innovations.. but I felt that FOWA/D would not be the ideal place for ecommerce minds. I look forward to getting a chance at meeting up at FOWA or FOWD in London soon if you will be there or if you know of any similar events where people can go to discuss and learn new technolgies please do share them with us

over 6 years ago


Tahir Fayyaz

* Just to add not all companies are bad at these trade shows as we did manage to find a very good and company to work with who have been willing to try out new ideas..

over 6 years ago

Rob Smith

Rob Smith, Managing Director at BlueleafSmall Business

Great post Matt. I am very agency side and yes, I love to argue with clients. Well, discuss I suppose. If you don't argue you always end up with compromise, and compromise, by it's very nature normally sucks.

over 6 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

As i sit here eating my porridge on a Saturday morning this reminds me of my week...the argue and play bits especially. 

I'm at the sharp end, and am, consequently, in a permanent state of excitement at what might happen. I have to try to MAKE things happen, obviously, and do have quite an eventful time. Coming from a direct sales 'one-call close' environment I've had to change my ways slightly, but I do like a good 'discussion' with all those lovely suspects out there.

One such this week via email started off with me offering an unsolicited (but useful) piece of advice to somebody who had been interviewed by Econsultancy.

I kind of didn't expect to hear back, but then thought it would be too hard not to reply. It came: 'And you are...? I didn't ask for your opinion but now I'm curious...' 

We proceeded to play email tennis for the rest of the week, discussing a whole host of other issues with my oppo's final email yesterday pretty much inviting me to become a god-parent to his kids.

Maybe one day he'll become a client, maybe not, but whatever happens it's been educational and a bit of fun for both of us this week - a week when I've had prospects dropping like flies and needed a spark of something to excite me again.

So yes, inject a bit of fun into the working week, and may all your arguments be positive ones where you both win.

And thanks Tahir - always open to new ideas, but we do like an argument too.. ;-)

over 6 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

really, what is it with all the bloody spam comments.

over 6 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

Must be the season - James Gurd suffering similar and getting quite annoyed too...

Couldn't agree more about Internet World btw: the words 'bland' and 'diluted' spring to mind.

Although of a similar ilk, E-com Expo was approximately a million times better, but will take a look at the ones you mention.


over 6 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

See, I was gonig to go to the ecom expo, but then I had like nine billion meetings suddenly scheduled. Am going to go to this years, and I'd better win something too.

The worst conference I ever went to was in Dusseldorf, it just wreaked of dotcom excess, naked painted promo girls, giveaways for cars, account execs doing coke in the toilets, that sort of thing, nearly made me change jobs.

over 6 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

It actually more than paid for itself, which IW didn't. I know it's about more than getting actual work in, but we can directly attribute 2 new clients to Expo. Plus, we seem to have agitated one or 2 of our competitors who were resting on their laurels a bit...

You'll still quite likely see a painted girlie, courtesy of a hosting company, but it's a much nicer, more intimate and relaxed affair then IW.

On the whole a very enjoyable couple of days exhibiting - will make a last-minute decision on this year, might blow my budget on some PR instead.

Good for your point 3 above: all sorts there and good fodder to keep the portfolio diverse.

Dare you to wear the green party hat if you go...

over 6 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

Ahh, I'm actually gonna stick a glyph to my head, which when you take a picture of me using the iPartyHat app, automatically adds a variety of coloured party hats depending on your personal preference/starsign/religious beliefs etc.

over 6 years ago

Alan Carmody

Alan Carmody, Head of Design and Technology at Midas Design Consultants Limited

Thanks Matthew

I can't agree with Item 10 but only because some of my clients are accountants and according to Item 1 that means they must be 'damed cool' or 'fighter pilots' so not a boring job after all.

And for item 3 - "There is no failure, only feedback" - A well known NLP presupposition.

over 6 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

Cheers Alan - actually, I studied to be an Actuary, which is billed as "for people who find accountancy too exciting" - though Actuarial Studies is all about cool things like motorcycle riding and extreme sports, albeit in a slightly less cool "how likely are you to die from them" kinda way

I think accountants can be put into 2 categories, either A) utter mathematical geniuses who can hide insane overspends in increasingly sneaky places or B) shining knights of valour who won't stand for such moral turpitude of hiding insane overspends.

so yeah, pretty cool.

over 6 years ago



found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it
out some more later ..

over 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

This post really resonated with me. And made me think that, maybe, I too have become a 'grumpy old man'.

I've been in web marketing since 1875.

Started at the height of the dot com boom don't you know, when everything was in black and white and the old Queen was still on the throne. Blah blah blah.

Seriously, I do remember the days when 'the World Wide Web' was all very new and very exciting. I was drawn into the industry because it was (still is) changing the world as we know it. Jim.

However, over the last couple of years it has all started to feel rather...safe. And a little, perhaps, boring.

Yes, there's always some new website, Google or Apple product launching. And there are now nearly as many Social Media gurus as there are members of Facebook.

Yet, for me, the industry is far less revolutionary than it used to be. It's all a bit more formalised and documented and professionalised.

Which, of course, it had to become.

As any industry matures it creates its own structures, career paths and norms of behaviour. That's fine I guess. Bound to happen.

But I can't help wondering if we're all just doing what everyone else is doing. And that we're getting a 'cookie cutter' industry (Take one Twitter account, one blog, 2 micro-sites. Add a little PPC and some water. Bake for 6 months on high. Serve with a side dish of hype).

Which is why, as this post suggests, when industry events start to resemble photo-copier trade shows, then maybe, just maybe, we've lost something along the way.

Now, has anyone seen my copy of the Radio Times and my pipe and slippers?

over 6 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

Hi Andrew

I'm sure Matt will agree there's still plenty of stuff to get excited about - it's just convincing other people to become excited too that's the challenge.

As an example, we've been banging the 'conversion first', 'test, test, test' drum for some time now, but mention the word optimise and it all goes to poo.

There are people ploughing new furrows out there and it's well worth going to these fringe shows, picking up on some and using them in the right context to keep things vital.

I think if we find something that works we run with it for a bit but competition continually drives us forward. It's still an incredibly dynamic industry so don't go for the pipe and slippers just yet!

over 6 years ago



Great advice. I think that often focusing on how much I love the actual work I do gets me through the day.
One thing you didn't address is office reputation- I think that has a significant impact on job satisfaction. I used to hate my job- not because of the work I was doing, but because I felt unappreciated and disliked at the office. My love for my work didn't make up for my distaste for my situation at work. I ended up reading a book called "Reboot Your Career" by Peter Fogel (http://www.reinventyourselfnow.com/reboot-your-career) which helped me kind of 'rebrand' myself to my superiors and coworkers. It helped a lot. Thought I'd share!

over 5 years ago


stuart hammill

or you could do what I did if you dont enjoy your job. tell your manager to go (yes no need to say it)

spend all your savings on some hardcore training in what ever you like doing, then set up by yourself and work real hard to make it happen.

It takes courage and a lot of hard work but it is possible go for it.

about 5 years ago

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