On this day in 1543 a group of Portuguese travelling on a Chinese Junk were blown off course and became the first Europeans to land in Japan.  They anchored at the island of Tanegashima.  While on the island they demonstrated their firearms to the local lord Tanegashima Tokitata who was clearly an astute and entrepreneurial individual.

Tokitata immediately purchased two matchlock  arquebuses from the Portuguese and had his smith break them down and reverse engineer them.  The smith was able to replicate all the parts except for the helical drill to create the hollow barrel.  The technology did not exist in Japan and the Portuguese travellers did not bring that technology with them.

Tokitata arranged for a return visit and next time the Portuguese brought their own smith who demonstrated the technique to the Japanese.  As a result the musket was introuced to Japan.  It quickly revolutionised the Japanese battlefield.  Tanegashima prospered on the manufacture and sale of muskets.  Sales averaged 30,000 per year over the following 10 years.

The Japanese went on to customise and develop firearms on a track independent from other nations, and introduced innovations not found elsewhere.  For instance a lacquer rain cover on the firing lock to allow firing in the rain.

The arrival of firearms changed Japanese society.  A farmer could be trained to become a soldier in a few weeks, whereas traditional Samurai spent decades learning the craft of sword, bow and staff.  The Sengoku period saw 35 years of internecine chaos fuelled in part by the arrival of firearms.  This was brought to a conclusion in 1600 by the Battle of Sekigahara when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu emerged as the dominant shogun and established the 250 years of stable peace of the Edo period of Japan.

The other great technology introduced by the Portuguese to Japan was fried food.  The technique was unknown in Japan before the Europeans arrived.  To this day Tempura is known in Japan as the “Portuguese Method”.  As with the firearms the Japanese experimented using local ingredients and created something quite different from the original introduction.

Image result for beautiful tempura morsels


Digital Junk Mail


In the world of digital marketing there is a fine line between annoying people and communicating your brand to them in an engaging manner.  Are you interacting with your customer, or intruding?   If you get it right you build customer loyalty, get it wrong and your customer may cut you off from further contact, or they may even leave.

Too often the designers of digital marketing campaigns do things just because they have the information and the can physically do it.  You know it, the customer knows it, and it is lazy marketing.  Quite simply it is the digital equivalent of junk mail.

If you sit down and think about what you are doing, and think about it from the customers viewpoint, you can come up with something better.  But it is really worth putting some thought into these issues.  If you are not prepared to devote marketing resources to digital campaigns you may be better off not doing anything.  At least that way you don’t annoy your customers.

Case in point, it is my birthday today.

I got a text first thing this morning from my brother saying ‘Happy Birthday’.  That’s nice, warm, engaging.  He ain’t heavy.  I smiled, I texted back a thanks.  It’s what families do.

A short time later I received another text saying “Happy Birthday from O2! We hope you have a great day and thanks for being a loyal customer.  From O2.  Opt out 1800 946102

I thought to myself “Screw you.  You don’t give a rat’s ass about me or that it’s my birthday.  You took these details from me when you created my mobile phone account and you have a computer routine that automatically tosses this garbage out“.  So guess what?  I took their advice and opted out.  Now they have lost this communications option.  Why?  Laziness.  This is not an engaging customer communication.  This is digital junk mail.

I opened up my email and found another “Happy Birthday” greeting, this time from Topaz, who give me prize competition entries when I buy Home Heating oil.  Topaz sent me a song, “She Loves You” because that was the No.1 song on the day I was born.  “Yeah, yeah, yeah” it’s already in your head.  Ear worm for today.  I played the song and had a smile.  Then I picked up the phone and ordered oil for the winter.

Somebody in Topaz is doing their homework.  They are trying to figure out what kind of birthday greeting will engage their customers.  Both O2 and Topaz have pretty much the same data.  One company failed miserably and the other succeeded.

Something interesting happens customers when they get into their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  They become more and more self-assured, frank, outspoken and they really know what they do and do not want.  If you want to be critical you could say that we become demanding and opinionated, grumpy old gits.  Well, here is a message to all you young digital marketers out there, it’s only going to get worse.  Because now the digital savvy are becoming grumpy old gits.  The computer literate generation, the A: prompters, the pre-windows users have come of age.  You have nowhere to hide.

On Aging; Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly, like a sack upon a shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering. I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me! Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it, otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching and my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor: Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling, don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then, a little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.