It’s Christmas!! So it’s time for some festive positivity…

Cartoon girl standing next to Big Ben, saying "bong"

Find yourself some raving fans and make them your customers.

Things that make me smile number 4,397: small children who write letters to Radio 4 and Radio 4 editors who write back.  

(Here’s how to “do marketing” on an individual level)

Phoebe Hanson, aged 8, was devastated to hear Big Ben would not be BONGING while he was undergoing a life-saving operation – so she wrote to Radio 4 and offered to shout “BONG” while he recovers.

(Aside for non-UK denizens: Big Ben is a mahoosive clock in London that’s been around for quite a while now. He BONGS on the hour, every hour. And his live BONGING is played to announce the news on Radio 4. Cool fact for fact fans: sometimes the news presenters talk over the BONGS because the timing varies depending on atmospheric conditions. Cool, huh?)

Radio 4 PM editor Roger Sawyer wrote this magnificent letter back to her:

“Re. Big Ben’s Bongs (lack of).

Dear Miss Hanson,

Thank you for your letter and your very imaginitive idea about what to do when Big Ben falls silent for repairs early next year. Some of the cleverest and most important people at the BBC are scratching their heads, wondering quite what to do.

Once before, when Big Ben fell silent for repairs, we played different birdsong every evening. The listeners loved that. Then the people behind Tweet of the Day (that’s on each day just before 6 in the morning) stole our idea… so we can’t do that again.

I must say I was very much taken with your idea… and we have passed it on to those who make the decisions. As you know, the Bongs are live… and (you may not know this) the beginning of the Westminster Chimes (the bit that goes BimBom BimBom BimBobBimBom before the first BOOONNNGGGGGGGGGG!) is always at a slightly different time (which is why you sometimes hear someone accidentally talking when they start). It depends on things like temperature and atmospheric pressure and stuff like that.

So it would be quite a task for you, doing the Bongs: you’d have to rush in after school each day (and at the weekend), rush home for tea, homework, a bit of chillin’, then a quick sleep. And then – here’s the hard bit – you’d have to rush back again at midnight, because there are live bongs again before the midnight news. That’s an awful lot of work for someone who is still quite young. I know I wouldn’t like to do all that.

Thank you very much for writing to us. I’m very impressed that you listen to Radio 4. I wish my two children did.

Have a spiffing Christmas and a stupendous and lucky 2017.

Roger Sawyer.

Editor: PM, Broadcasting House, iPM – BBC Radio 4”

I think it was “BimBom BimBom BimBobBimBom” that had me rolling about laughing. You can’t help but sing the Westminster Chimes in your head when you read it.

It’s all about getting raving fans, you see. Little Phoebe Hanson is a raving fan of Big Ben and Radio 4. I’m constantly humbled and delighted by the lovely thoughts and words my Inner Circle Superheroes send me (Kathryn made me tear up just this morning all the way from New Zealand).

And while I’d like to say I’m baffled by people’s loyalty, I’m not totally clueless. It’s all about building strong, lasting, real relationships with real people.

Not something I’ve always been good at, you know. But something I’ve learned – and something I share with my book reader superheroes and private clients.



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG. Had a lie-in this morning, although I was writing notes about my SHINY NEW WEBSITE that will be ready sometime in January. I’m very excited, and I’ll be looking for feedback when it’s up…


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