Marketing & Communications

All Marketers Should Make Comics

Especially the writers.

In a role where I’m part director and part do-er, I keep a very active hand in everything from composing Tweets to writing five-year plans. I came up through the business as a mutt, with everything from community radio to professional journalism to strategic marketing under my belt.

But among all the past experiences, I think comics writing has been the most valuable.

It was never my job, in the sense that it was paying me a full-time salary. At the best, I got pizza money; for the vast majority of my work, nothing but the joy of doing it. There was one time where a creator-owned series I did got optioned and was being pitched around for a prestige TV adaption, but that’s a story for another time.

I’m slowly picking up old comics project and adding them to the blog; it’s a bittersweet experience, to be honest. So many great ideas and passion that never quite made it over the hump to being well recognized or self-sustaining.

But the joy was in the doing, as my friend Adam reminded me recently.

It was also in the learning!

I legitimately believe that every creative person should try comics, for a while, at least once. Not just one page, and not just writing, but the whole process. I’ve been a writer for 99% of the comics I’ve done, but have tried my hand at full process at things like 24 hour comics jams. I was a very good artist when I was in the third grade, peaked in the fifth grade, and think I can now draw about as well as most fifth-graders. It doesn’t stop me from making comics, and it shouldn’t stop you either.

At the moment, though, let’s talk about marketing, writing, and writing for comics.

What does writing for comics teach you?

Economy of language

This is tops. Especially in some formats of comics. I’m in the process of moving a decade of a daily strip I did with my good friend and brilliant art madman James Duncan to the blog. It was a M-F four-panel comedy strip that was also a serial story, about a man who was bitten by a radioactive man and gained the proportionate abilities of a man. It was called Man-Man.

Here’s the thing about a four-panel daily strip: it has to be punchy. You have four panels a day to tell a story. Given panel size constraints, you really shouldn’t have more than two people on a panel, sometimes three. You shouldn’t have more than 10 words in a word balloon.

So — while it never paid in money — writing a long-form serial adventure, that unfolded in four panels a day, where there were never more than two people speaking at once, and only speaking in bursts of 10 words or less — it paid in experience.

I am a wordy SOB, and this was hard. Bleed-from-the-eyes hard. It was not, admittedly, super funny sometimes (that’s on me, not James). But expressing what needs to be expressed — and striving to end in a joke every day — taught me in immeasurable amount about compact writing.

Image/text meshes

Never tell what’s showing, is essentially the golden rule. If a character is pulling a gun, having them say “I’m pulling a gun!” is pointless. If the artist has invested the on-panel action in the gun-pulling, he’s freed you up to have that character say something else entirely. It can be prosaic and additive (“I’ve been waiting five years for this, Tompkins!”), or show disassociation (“Nice day for a picnic, isn’t it?”) or even lunacy (“The banana people live under the stairs!”).

Point being, getting a handle on how text should complement image, and not be redundant to it, is critically important. Text can even contradict an image, for some sort of jarring narrative effect, but it’s another form of economy that comics teaches you real fast.

The passage of time, and scenes

Scott McCloud, certified genius and comics-maker, talks about this a lot in his book Understanding Comics, which I’d argue should be in every creative’s library. The space between comic panels (“gutters”) contain fungible amounts of time and movement, and every unit of comic (panels) can leap through time at the speed the author desires. I’m mildly mangling the word “fungible” here because it’s kind of an exchangeable commodity, in that you can choose to have the gutter or larger panels, and the division depends on how you want the passage of time, or a split in locations, to be perceived in the narrative — going full comics nerd at this point, sorry.

It’s a low-cost, intensive way to really understand how time works in narratives, and a great way to cut your teeth for future video production. Will your next shot be the next moment in a sequence, or five years later? Will your next shot stay in the same place, or take you to a new location?


I call everything I do “storytelling” in internal conversations, which I’m sure makes some of my colleagues think I’m a pretentious weirdo sometimes. But they are! Every social media post is a story. Every news item is a story. Every research profile is a story.

Comics make you tell stories while thinking on that image/text mesh plane. Above and beyond that mesh, you’re also thinking of beginnings, middles, and ends. This isn’t exclusive to comics, but it separates the good’uns from the bad’uns: what’s your act structure? What are your impact points? What do you need a full-page splash for, versus a tiny inset panel?

Tell a story in 24 pages of nine-panel grids. Then tell a story in a single page with 12 small boxes of art and words. Then tell a story in a four-panel comic strip. Then in one big image/text combo.

Once you can get ideas down in a single panel that have a beginning, middle and end, and marry compelling art with prosaic text, you’re ready to write a tweet. Or film a killer Tik-Tok minute. Or even write a 3,000-word feature, but mindful of what pictures you’ll need at the other end to make it sing.

Infinite budget

The project that broke me was a crazily ambitious series called Rise, Kraken! that at one point had a group of agents for an international crime organization called Kraken trapped in a facility with killer panda bears that spoke through Speak-n’-Spells grafted to their chests, being pursued by an army of hundreds of howler monkeys. At another point, zeppelins were being taken out by weaponized War Tubas. I haven’t put it up on the site yet because I need to find the art (and ask the artist for permission to post it). I wrote an adaptation of Captain Blood, the classic novel of piracy, with full-on multi-ship naval battles raging throughout the narrative.

Whee! There’s a million dollars in F/X right there. Take that, Spielberg!

More than any other medium, comics let you think big. As much as they force economy in the word balloons, there’s an infinite canvas of ideas and space you can draw on. There is no better training ground for the imagination.

Tremendous constraint

The infinite budget is trapped within a confined physical space. Usually something about as big as a letter-sized piece of paper. Sometimes just a comic strip. Sometimes a two-page spread. Your omnipotent powers are trapped in a box of a certain size, and you have to deploy all of the above skills — mastery of the economy of language, the word/text mesh, the passage of time and space — to have the infinite idea translate into a very finite space.

Learning to work with artists

Comics artists are not in it for the money. It’s a notoriously difficult profession to break into and stick with. Also true for writers, but while a writer can write a comic in a few working days, it takes an artist at least weeks to draw one. So the investment ration in the writer:artist relationship is way out of whack.

Since writers are also conventionally the “idea people,” it’s frankly a weird dynamic. Sometimes you luck out and find an artist who is completely in sync, and totally committed to the bit, and you take it as far as it goes.

Often, though, the artist — stops. They’ve found a better-paying gig (or a paying gig, period), or they’ve lost interest, or there isn’t a payoff to the project that seems evident and they want to focus on other things. Unless you’ve got a lot of money to pay them to follow through on things (I didn’t), you can’t really fault them. You can cajole, wheedle, promise, negotiate — but you’re ultimately powerless in the hands of another to see something get to fruition.

It gives you a ton of hands-on experience in sharing an idea, inspiring somebody to get on board with it, and then being as consistent and reliable as humanly possible on your end to ensure they get what they need to succeed. Some artists need things explained in complete detail. Others much prefer “I need a fight scene here, and it has to end like this.” You learn to work with all sorts of other creatives, from the affable to the temperamental.

[This is a bit of a demarcation line -- from here it’s less “what can you learn from working on comics for a bit” to a more diarist “what did I learn from a decade-plus of beating my head against a wall”. You can skip down to the end if you want to avoid the maudlin bits.]

Learning to pitch

This is getting a little far afield of what anyone can learn by doing comics for a while. But part of the process when I was trying to make a go of it was pitching comics companies, large and small, to see if they’d be interested in what you were doing. In retrospect, I think all of this would have been much easier if I’d been in a place where I could form relationships, instead of in Sherbrooke, Quebec for the bulk of this part of my life.

It was, again, a tremendous skill to learn. How do you package something to get somebody’s attention? What do publishers need to know vs what audiences need to know? How do you sell something with a 2-3 sentence email that entices somebody to take the time to open and read the attachment? It’s its own art, and concurrent with working as a copywriter, then strategist with a national ad agency, it was a good art to learn.

Learning to fail

You may have noticed I’m not a professional comics writer. Which is fine — with time and some tempering, I can even admit to myself now that if I’d been given the opportunity to pursue it, I’d be a solidly b-list writer: probably pretty good, with solid ideas and sound writing, but not up there with the Alan Moores and Grant Morrisons, Dwayne McDuffies, Kelly Sue DeConnicks, Tom Kings, etc. I would have been fine. I would not have been great.

Through one lens, my comics-writing “career” was a succession of failures — good ideas that never found an audience, drawing-board projects that never found a publisher, amazing ideas that never found the right artist to even push through the pitch phase.

The “coulda, woulda, shoulda” has been painful at times. Even loading old projects onto the blog (and I’m not even 10% there — I did a lot over almost two decades of striving) is bittersweet. No fewer than four of my former collaborators have their own Wikipedia pages now, which feels weird. My wife had to see me through a legitimate identity crisis about five years ago, when we went to a comics convention in Toronto and I ran into a few collaborators who were cutting their teeth at the same time as me and are now thriving in the industry.

For a very long time, though, I would get myself up, dust myself off, find as much passion for one project as I had for the last, and plunge back in. The “final” project was one I truly believed would set the world on fire, crashed and burned when the artist involved just decided to stop working on it with no further explanation, and that… capsized me. That was the hard stop — I haven’t written for comics in the decade-plus since.

Not the passion, though — that just started to go in other directions. Creativity at work, other personal projects — even, eventually, this thing right here. There’s no shortage of outlets for the creative spark if you’ve got it and want to invest it somewhere.

But I learned a ton from not succeeding. Every non-success was its own learning process, and contributed to all of the above — economy of language, an understanding of the mesh of art and language, developing a relationship with the passage of time and space. It also built scar tissue, and the ability to put disappointment behind you and move on to the next thing. There’s always a next thing.

In short, make comics

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. But you can do it today! Now! Grab a sheet of paper, draw some boxes, and have Stick Person 1 go on a little adventure. Think about the infinite possibilities inherent in that blank page, but also the tremendous constraints of that physical space. Hell, just take a bunch of panels from an existing comic and draw over the word balloons. But get in there and experiment. See how the words mix with the images and complement (or contrast) them.

I guarantee you won’t regret it.

April 25, 2021


Jason Collett, “Best Of

AceMoMa, “A New Dawn

Lo Talker, “A Comedy of Errors

Marketing & Communications

The Lazy Man’s Burden

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a favourite phrase of my grandfather Shepherd’s — “the lazy man’s burden.” I’m not sure of its provenance, but he’d use it whenever we were visiting the cottage and he’d see me or a sibling staggering down the hill from the driveway, trying to carry too many things, dropping things and having to stop and pick them up, and so on.

It would have made more sense to make multiple trips with fewer items, but we were lazy. Staggering under the burden.

“The lazy man’s burden” — struggling with an unnecessary load, rather than doing a little more work that would have resulted in less effort and anguish overall.

Laziness on the brain

It’s been an exceptionally busy year for a normally busy job, and I can feel a certain… haste start to creep in around the edges of my work. Decades doing The Work has given me a sixth sense that starts to whisper you’re cutting corners in the back of my mind.

And sometimes cutting corners feels good. You’re getting things done! Knockin’ stuff out of the inbox! Ticking things off the list! Yeah!

On the cottage porch in the back of my mind, Grampa Shepherd, smoking his pipe and shaking his head, is rightly pointing out that the lazy man is creating burdens:

First — fast work sliding into sloppy work.

When I work fast it gets things out the door, to be sure.

But it’s an invitation to mistakes, and undoing a mistake is a massive investment of time and labour, not to say a significant loss of face. Deleting and retweeting a tweet, editing a Facebook or Instagram post, replying to comments saying “actually…” — it’s a lot more work than taking the five minutes to take a breath and compose something well would have been in the first place.

Lazy man
On the bright side, it looks like the pineapple’s gonna make it.

Second — production over people.

This one is more insidious. I work with highly gifted teammates, on both sides of the management structure. Amazing staff, great bosses.

The immediate instinct to just get it done or just fix it without having a conversation of what’s being done and why — or talking through a task that somebody else really should be doing, then having them do it, work through issues, and have them get it right — once again, it’s the lazy man’s burden. I’m doing things not because it’s the best way. It’s just the expedient way.

The galling thing is that I’m not only creating more work for myself by taking on too much — see the first point — but I’m making a system worse by breaking it. And I’m robbing other people of the opportunity to learn and do. I work with remarkable people who are up to just about any task; not delegating and training to just “get it done” is a bad habit to get into, and harms more people than just me.

Path, car, trees
Photorealistic rendering of the path to the cottage.

Checking my head

Like everyone in this work I feel burdened from time to time; that’s a good moment to head-check myself and ask if I’m burdened with good work, or if I’m taking on a lazy man’s burden, and it’s time to look at workload and pace. Doing the latter can be difficult. It should be — it’s the antithesis of the lazy man’s burden, and that means that’s the burden that probably should be borne.

Thanks, grampa.

Bonus scone recipe

I write these on Sunday mornings, and with a lovely day outside it felt like a scone kind of morning. These bad boys took about 40 minutes, pillar to post. Walnut pieces inside, some maple sugar sprinkled atop.


2 cups fresh AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp. sugar + 1 tsp
1 1/2 cups coconut milk + 1 tbsp.
Any desired stir-ins (spices, dried fruit, zests, etc.)

Preheat oven to 425, mix flour, sugar and stir-ins in bowl.
Stir in coconut milk until just combined
Turn onto floured surface, gently fold 4-5 times for even texture/not sticky. Don’t overmix. Add more flour if dough sticky. Dough should be a ‘lovely texture’, not sticky / not dry.
Shape into 8-inch square, cut into 8 triangles using pizza cutter.
Keep pieces together.
Brush last tbsp. of coconut milk on top, sprinkle w/ tsp. of sugar.
Bake on parchment paper, top rack, 17-20 mins.
Let cool before reglazing (if desired).

April 18, 2021


Nathan Fake, “Blizzards

Neko Case, “The Virginian” (from Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule)

The Skatalites, “Hi-Bop Ska

Marketing & Communications

We Are All in the Village With Allie

We live in a village.

But it’s a weird village.

Anyone who has grown up in a small village (I did) knows that all villages are weird, in their own Robertson Davies Deptford kind of ways, but this village is weird.

The strange thing about this village is how people talk to each other.

There are lots of people here: Joe, and Mohammed, and Jessica, and Fatima, and Desiree, and Matt (that’s me!), and Dr. Pebbles the vet, and Gord the butcher, and Linda the florist, and so on.

But nobody talks to each other. When they have something to say, they all go to one person.

She lives in the middle of the village, and spends all day every day conveying information from one person to another. She is Santa Clausian in her powers to flit from eye to eye and ear to ear instantaneously.

But — regardless of her speed and alacrity (or maybe because of it), she is the conduit through which all talk passes.

If Joe wants to shout to the rooftops that his dog just had puppies, he goes to her to spread the news. She is the gatekeeper for Fatima to share pictures of the pie she just baked. Gord the Butcher is having a sale on Bavarian sausages, a recipe passed down from his grandmother — he goes to this woman. And so on.

Nobody can hear from anybody else except through her.

She controls what everyone in the village sees. There is no way for one villager to talk to another villager directly, unless she instigates that conversation.

Her name is Allie Go’Rhythm.

Here’s the thing about Allie.

Allie is, as stated, the gatekeeper for all news in the village.

She’s also… unpredictable.

She might share Joe’s puppy with everyone in the village, but she might just tell Fatima (because Fatima likes dogs) or Mohammed (because Mohammed is friends with Joe). Or both, or neither. It depends on what other news reaches her ears that she thinks Fatima and Mohammed might want to hear.

Allie has some sort of complex internal system, which she discloses to nobody, about what she’ll share, and with whom. If you look at its patterns, it makes a certain sort of sense, but there’s also a certain lurking dread that Allie is actually just clinically insane.

She remains the sole conduit for news-spreading, however. So if Gord wants to tell the whole village about his Bavarian sausage sale, he must go to Allie. And Allie may, or may not, spread the news.

Here are a few other things we know about Allie:

She’s selfish.

Allie wants to make sure people only talk to Allie. She’s greedy that way. She doesn’t want them watching Netflix, or going for a walk in the woods, or playing Frisbee with their dog, when they could be talking to Allie. So when Allie is deciding what news to share, she looks at the past history of the person she’s getting the news from. Have people been interested in Joe and Joe’s life in the past? Are people clamouring for more Joe? If yes, Allie will gladly spread Joe’s news far and wide. People love hearing about Joe! If Allie is talking about Joe, people will want to talk to Allie. And Allie only wants people to talk to her.

But if the last five or six times she’s shared Gord’s sausage news, people have grunted and walked away… Allie’s not going to tell people about Gord’s grandmother’s recipe. Gord seems to turn people off. Allie doesn’t want to turn people off… she wants people to talk to her, and only her.

The awful truth is I’m as proud of this as anything else in this post.

She doesn’t always tell the truth.

Allie has… a loose relationship with the truth and accuracy. She’s just sharing the news! She doesn’t make it. But if Matt’s wild stories about the mayor being a lizard person are getting people excited and engaged, and every time Allie shares a story about the lizard people theory the whole village gets hetted up and only wants to talk to Allie about lizard people — Allie loves it! She loves it when people talk to her! So she’ll happily share that news; if she’s called out, she might mention that the story seems a bit dubious. In some circumstances she might even stop listening to Matt. But generally speaking, Allie’s motivation is to keep people talking to Allie. No matter what. Allie’s really into politics, and controversy, and whatever keeps people engaged with and talking to Allie.

She spreads secondary as well as primary news.

Allie will also tell people how other people reacted to news. So if she only tells Fatima about Joe’s puppies, and Fatima doesn’t react, Allie doesn’t do much. She files it away in the “maybe Joe is boring and I should tell fewer Joe stories” pile. But if Fatima responds, then Allie judges Fatima’s reaction on kind of a sliding scale, and then decides which of Fatima’s friends to share her reaction with. A dry nod might not generate much. If Fatima smiles, Allie might consider sharing Joe’s news with some of Fatima’s friends. But if Fatima leaps up with a delighted laugh and claps her hands and says “how excellent for Joe!”, Allie will tell all Fatima’s friends how delighted she was — and in so doing also share Joe’s puppy news.

The important note there — Allie is still taking in, parsing, and distributing stories according to her inscrutable Go’Rhythm ways. Fatima and Joe might be conversing directly about Joe’s puppies, in a conversation Allie instigated, but how other people learn of this news is still dependent on whether Allie shares it, or not.

So Joe is compelled to make his puppy news as thrilling as possible. He’s competing with Matt’s loony lizard people theories! That’s a tough act to follow.

She knows and cares about your networks.

Allie cares about what the people in the village care about. And who. People can declare to Allie that they want to stay on top of news from certain other people or businesses. And Allie will deliver their news faithfully, to a point… if Mohammed says he’s interested in what Gord and Fatima have to say, Allie will share Gord and Fatima’s news faithfully with Mohammed. But if Mohammed declares he is friends with thousands of people, and following hundreds of businesses, Allie will fall back on her “boring/not-boring” dichotomy to decide what Mohammed needs to hear.

Allie can be bribed.

You can pay Allie money to have a much higher chance she’ll spread your news. She still might not! But she’ll at least consider it, and she only makes you pay for the news she actually spreads. This does not, however, affect Allie’s current opinion of you and your stories as “interesting and worth sharing” or “boring and not worth spreading.” Her contractual relationship to spread your news is totally disconnected with her daily news-spreading routines.

What does this mean?

We all live in the village. For whatever reason, the vast majority of us are here.

And we’re all subject to the whims of Allie Go’Rhythm. Our relationship with Allie, and our dependence on her, has had a number of consequences.

Our communication has drifted, over time, from detailed to symbolic. Busy people want to get as much news from Allie as quickly as they can. Allie wants to keep as many people interested as she can. So if we want those people to react when Allie shares news, and ensure Allie keeps sharing our news, we have to make that news as dramatic, arresting and exciting as possible.

In some ways, that makes us better communicators: more succinct, more mindful of getting to the core principle or point of things.

In other ways, that makes us worse communicators: sacrificing nuance, context and depth in favour of impact.

It also puts communicators into a terrible state of dread and uncertainty. We can tell Allie things, but we can never be certain who she’ll share them with or why. We make decisions about what news to share based on what news Allie likes to spread, not what news is important to us… or we choose to take risks on Allie’s largesse and tell the stories we think need to be told, and hope they find an audience if she chooses to share them. We run contests and hold events just to get villagers to tell Allie they like us, in the hopes she’ll share our news with them.

Here’s where it gets especially weird.

There’s more than one Allie.

There’s more than one storytelling network in this village.

Allie Go’Rhythm actually has a number of sisters, and they all run their own story-sharing systems. Some people like Allie T. Go’Rhythm more than Allie F.B. Go’Rhythm, others prefer Allie L.I. Go’Rhythm.

But all members of the Go’Rhythm clan share the same core attributes: they are the sole intermediary through which news gets to their network. They all want you to talk to them and never do anything else — especially not talk to another Go’Rhythm sister. Well, Allie F.B. Go’Rhythm and Allie I.G. Go’Rhythm are actually twins, and — that’s a whole other thing.

They’re also all slightly different, so telling Allie I.G. Go’Rhythm something that she spreads far and wide might have radically different results with Allie L.I. Go’Rhythm.

What’s your relationship with the sisters?

Do you spend your time courting one Go’Rhythm sister, learning the intricacies of her likes and dislikes, or do you woo all the Go’Rhythms at the same time, knowing that what works with some might not work as well with others?

Do you spend money on one Go’Rhythm because you think she talks to the villagers you want to reach? Or all of them? Or none?

When one of the Go’Rhythms has gone sour on you and your news, do you aggressively pursue her to win her back, or do you focus on the others, trusting that your natural charm will winnow you back into her good graces?

These are not questions with answers. Anyone who claims to know the Go’Rhythm sisters to the point of absolute predictability is a liar, or a fool mistaking good luck for pure knowledge. Some people have a better idea than others, and some have invested time and study to develop a very good sense — and even then, only a sense — of what a particular Go’Rhythm sister might like or do. But the sisters are fickle, and may change their own internal logic at a moment’s notice.

This is the village.

This is where we live; you can generously look at it as where we choose to spend time, or more negatively as where we’re all trapped. Ultimately, though, it is a choice, and it’s one that almost everybody has made at some point.

We all live here with Allie. Allie’s not going anywhere.

So we’re all finding ways to work with her and her sisters; changing what we say and how we say it, hoping to find favour, claiming genius when we do and cursing our bad luck when we do.

This is the village. Population… call it about four billion. That’s a lot of people.

All clamouring for Allie’s attention and good graces.

We work for managers, and clients, and bosses. We work for satisfaction and achievement and triumph. We work for good causes and for financial gain.

But at the end of the day we’re all working for Allie.

Marketing & Communications

Burritos and the F-Bomb

Any higher education marketing & communications shop combines two vital mandates: being a strategic unit, and being a service unit. Running optimally, you’re both making decisions about how to plan and shape a long-term marketing and communications mandate, but also handling requests, triaging emergencies, and helping other units who need expertise or support.

Somewhere in the mix lies decision-making: occasionally proactive, when you can sit down and take a breath and look at what’s coming and plan appropriately. Usually, though, reactive — you’re getting a lot of requests for coverage or support, you’ve got finite resources to provide it, and you’re making allocation choices about where to put your resources. You need to get as much attention as you can muster, using as few resources as possible.

It’s time to use the F-BOMB.

It’s an old-timey bomb, from the days when they used to tie marketers to train tracks.

No, not that f-bomb, and you knew that already. It’s a goofy acronym*:

  • First
  • Best
  • Only
  • Most
  • Bluff

F-BOMB isn’t perfect, but it’s a good rule of thumb for juggling ideas and priorities. Breaking it down a bit more… let’s look at these, and also talk about burritos, because I like burritos.

Drawing this burrito took a surprising amount of work and I’m going to make the most of it.


Essentially “new”, but “N-BOMB” doesn’t work. Is this something you’re doing ahead of everyone else? Breaking new ground, blazing new trails? Newness is great! It’s a chance to display innovation and novel thought while distinguishing yourself in a crowded world. Are you the first burrito joint in town? Fly that flag!


Where are you superior? Ideally in an area where people are genuinely interested in your superiority. Any time you can make an honest claim that you’re ahead in your field, that’s a good place to go. If your burritos are quantitatively the best, or even qualitatively, tell people why you have the superior burrito.


This, and “most,” get deeper into the areas where you really need to do some research and make sure you’re “only” in an area where people want what only you do. I could be the only person in town who sells burritos made from ground beef and bell pepper stuffed into used gym socks, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.


See above. It’s a good claim, if you’ve got the most of something people want. “Most” doesn’t have to be tangible, but if you move into non-physical spaces “most” and “best” get kind of interchangeable. “Most” also risks moving you into vanity metrics that don’t actually mean anything at all… when your correlation to “most” isn’t an absolute, but a qualifier like “per capita” or “per square foot,” watch out: you might be effectively saying nothing at all: a two-house, one-business town where the sole business sells burritos might offer the most burrito restaurants per capita of any town in the world, but it still shouldn’t be a tourist destination for burrito fans.


Got nothin’? The Hail Mary pass is to look for things that other people do but nobody talks about and hurl the ball in that direction. Every burrito restaurant in town provides free guac, but if you’re the only burrito restaurant advertising free guac, for a little while, at least, you might as well be the only one doing it.

The F-BOMB is also combinatorial

If you have more than one first, you can take the F and work your way back down the list: FBe is better than FO, FM, or FBl. If you’re the best in several areas, BO is better than BM (yes, I see it too) or BBl. And so on.

This is not a replacement for an actual marketing and communications plan! It’s just a fun thing to look at when you’ve got a lot of options in front of you and have to make a command decision. There are a lot of factors that go into your decisions, but F-BOMB is a tried and true starting point for fairly reasonable decisions.

*as distinguished from an initialism: you can pronounce an acronym. “FBI” is an initialism, “NASA” is an acronym. “CIA” is an initialism, and somehow “CSIS” is an acronym. And so on.

April 4, 2021


Busty & the Bass, “Eddie

Volcano!, “Piñata

Kishi Bashi, “Emigrant EP

Magnetic Fields, “69 Love Songs