Oke Doke, as promised it's time to finish communications planning. For previous posts, go here, here and then here.
When we left it, we were at the point when we'd worked out the task for communications - what actions do you want your audience to take - the thing communications can influence people to do to best contribute to the business goal.
Grow impulse purchases by getting top of mind with young buyers...
That's more than half the battle - really defining the task is the best thing you can do, in some agencies, planning stops there - you'll see the proposition as a task in many briefs, JWT focuses on what we want people to think and then opens up the process to everyone. I must admit, that's how I would prefer to work, but most agencies still have a wall between creative and planning and you can't shape the rest of the process as a team everywhere.
However and wherever you work, it's critical to make sure you don't stick to 'advertising's the answer, what's the question'. Knowing when and where to show up in your audiences lives is not only a must now the web enabled, marketing savvy consumer can filter ads out if they want to, it can actually form part of the actual idea.
So you need to answer the following question - when and where, and in what circumstance will our target be most receptive to our communications? You need to thinks about:
What media do they consume, why and how? What else do they interact with that isn't strictly 'media'?
What role does different possible connection points play in their lives? What do they pay attention to during the day? What are they doing at the time? Are they looking for entertainment? Information? Companionship?
How does the competition connect to the audience? Are their opportunities to find different connection points? Should we use the same but in a very different way?
Think again about what role the category plays in their real lives? When are they most in need of what they're offering? When could we make the most difference or be of the most use?
When and where does the brand vision and personality fit the most?
Think again about the purchase process - what does that tell you about when and where to show up?
Of course, TV is still a great medium, but you're deluded if you think all you have to do is put a logical ad up there and that's it. It's harder to stand out now, so relevance is critical, and you need to think of this as part of multiple touch points in story - in store, on-line, PR events and other media you want to invent.
Coming back to the Gorilla, they knew that the ad had to be something viral, that would get people talking and sharing on Youtube.
Axe in Japan (I think) needed to increase usage in the morning and discovered that males there use their phones as an alarm clock - so the moment became when they woke up..with sexy alarm calls from the girl of your choice.
Orange engaged with a younger audience through film - and picked a couple of moments. One was the actual film experience itself, this one was even more specific - engagement with Star Wars fans.
Another was a night of the week to share a film with a mate.
Sainsburys conceptually is about that rainy Tuesday night when you can't think of anything to cook - Try something new today.
Ghd focuses on the ritual of getting ready, and the hidden desires inside every woman.
But then there's TBWA London's work to make young women aware of the dangers of having your drink spiked - by actually spiking their drink with a specially made cocktail umbrella.
A word of caution. Be sure what you're doing will the reach the number of people you need to. Stunts etc are waste of time if they reach 100 people when you need to generate trial with 10,000.
Then consider the experience you want people to have, maybe think of it as a reward. What you're going to say, do etc to make people end up acting as you want, this ends up as the proposition in the creative brief.
Consider functional - Ariel makes whites whiter. And don't be afraid of telling people about a unique product benefit if there is one.
This ad is just telling you that a Sony Bravia has better colour, the rest is how that is delivered.
Just bear in mind, it's how you deliver that message that counts and thought and input on that is needed - it usually and should come from the brand vision/tone etc, but we'll come to that.
It can also come from knowing what the experience is of th medium - only an idiot produces a cinema ad that doesn't entertain, but you can interact with a small crowd here too.
Expressive - being to communicate to others that you are experienced..
A great mother..
How do you choose the right focus? Think why the audience isn't doing what you want, find the blockage, judge your solution by how much it will overcome it.
You should think about support- give the reasons why the target should believe what you're saying. This should really be the actual stuff of the communication.
You can be literal - 9 out out of ten cats prefer Whiskas
British Airways brings more people together than anyone else..
Honda used their hatred of diesel engines to spur them to make one they could love.
The Accord just works
..or dramatise it.
Women enjoy Yorkie's even thought they're masculine.
Check your logic - how does the action, the reward and the support fit together - a useful check is to complete the following sentence from the audience point of view:
"When I (intended action), I will (reward), because (support).
Now, traditionally tone of voice etc comes last - you would hope because this is already set and agreed, everyone is clear about the brand idea, the personality etc. Other people have talked betterthan I could about why this matters (and offer alternatives to this way of comms planning, but remember, these are the basics, know the rules, do them well before you break them).
Anyway, you must say, behave etc in a way that people will FEEL it. Just telling people will mean they won't listen. Nothing will happen.
Every piece of comms says something about the brand, like it or not. It needs to be appropriate for the brand and the audience. You need to be clear about this, and agree it with client especially creatives.
Too often, a creative is briefed really well, but tone is left out. Or even worse, it's not and they ignore it, because they believe it's up to them to decide how communication is delivered. It is up to a point. But it was Boddingtons - it MUST have been delivered creamily with a Mancunian twist.
If it's Apple, it must be simple and human.
You might want to be consistent with how you're perceived already, you might want to play up an element of what the brand's about, you might want to shift perceptions a little of what the brand's about.
In the end, it's got to be appropriate for the objective, brand and audience - but creatives don't own tone and manner and the sooner you talk about it and the more work is put into getting it right, the better.
I've only shown TV here because it's easy to get hold of Youtub video, more and more that will be less of what we do...but TV's real long term benefit is building up how people feel about the brand. You need to make sure they feel the right things.
In case you can't be bothered to watch or follow the links, Wabi Sabi is a japanese theory to aesthetics and transience as the touchstone of beauty. Now I think the basics of that are worth whole series of posts, how flaws and wrongness are much more attractive than elaborate or even pristine, minimalist design. I personally dislike the design directions of Apple, I know it taps into human needs to simplicity etc, but to me it's too hard, too obviously 'designed' too hard.
That's not really the point. Wabi Sabi is actually a much more complex ideas than that. Even though most of the people Theroux meets in Japan know what Wabi Sabi is, they find it difficult to describe. It has all sorts of roots and expressions. From the tea ceremony to Haiku. From Zen Buddhism to rugged potter - it's so rooted in culture, they're so used to it, you might as well ask what red looks like.
I think there's a number of themes in this:
Sometimes language simply isn't enough, you can only get to some sort of approximation to describe whole load of fuzzy associations, feelings and experiences - you need to find other ways to express it. That's the problem with brand onions etc, that can be the problem with single minded propositions for multi-touchpoint campaigns...and trying to describe why you love someone.
Perfection isn't necessary, and maybe shouldn't be sought after, but being a purist about things is no bad thing in a world (our industry in particular) chase other's approval and fall for fads all the time.
There's a world of difference between admiring something and feeling genuine affection for it. I really admire some films, like Zodiac, but didn't really enjoy it. The same can be said for lots of clever advertising that's very impressive, but doesn't make you FEEL. Baking in warmth and depth to all sorts of stuff is really important.
Complexity is important, but I like the idea of stripping out what isn't necessary. There are about 20 buttons on my DVD remote I never use for example. So many presentations are really boring because some git wants to show off rather than tell me something interesting. And so many pieces of design, music or film just look like they're trying too hard - sometimes trying to be simple.
The japanese are more like the English than I thought -we both have a deep love for tea and gardening.
Okay, back to it with communications planning. After this and then this.
Once you know who your audience is you need to consider their relationship with the market, it's communications and your brand.
What's their relationship with the product/service? What about the category? What are th issues that matter to them? How do they choose? You need to get off your chair, away from the office and do this properly. Go and meet them, so you can find out what really matters - how does the product/category etc actually fit into their lives. How are people really using it?
In folklore, the cheeseburger was invented by JWT, although you can get they observed people making their own someplace.
Ikea knew that people were retreating into the home as recession bit, and was being reappraised as a safe place rather than an investment as the housing market crashed.
Pot Noodle found that it was an understandable weakness.
I think this bit is crucial - there's too much advertising in all it's guides, too many products. If you're going to cut through, you need to be relevant in people's real lives. You're competing against all sorts of stuff people find more interesting - so it makes to find what they're really interested in and work back from there.
Then you need to look at communications. What it everyone else doing? What are the rules? What can we challenge? If you've done the previous bit first, this should happen naturally. Once upon a time, all you had to do was look at what the category did and then do the opposite. That's how TBWA's Disruption worked and what HHCL used to base their thinking on. Problem these days, it that you can't assume the consumer's paying attention to anyone's work.
But still, directly breaking the category's conventions can and still can be powerful.
From Irn Bru poking fun at 1980 Coke's fresh faced teenagers.
To Dove challenging the perfect models everyone else tended to use (this went deeper of course, turning the beauty industry into a monster in general).
Finally, what's their relationship with the brand being advertised? How do they feel about it? How do we want to move the relationship on? It's very rare you ever need to re-cast a brand from scratch. But that said, it's amazing how many brands portray themselves as they want to be rather than how they actually are. Find out what positive associations people have, build on that. Pepsi will find it hard to not be about the youth generation, Sainsburys is about quality food etc.
Topline, this will all help you decide what strategy will deliver the objectives with the audience. What is the course of consumer behaviour, opinion etc you want to influence or change. In essence, what do you want people to think, feel or do that they are not right now, and what you know about the brand, consumer, market and especially culture that will help solve th problem.
Delve into the culture around the brand, delve into culture in the category - real culture, real lives. FInd the connection and bingo.
So that brings you to the core question.
What action to you want the target to take?
Successful, persuasive communication ends up in a change in behaviour. Of course you want people to think and feel different, but in the end, you want them to act. Communications may well change how they feel but that's always in order for them to act differently than before..carefully looking at the decision making process should help you define what behaviour you want to change.
Honda wanted people to test drive the cars, but they had to make the idea occur to them by making the brand interesting.
That Pot Noodle example before was about increasing frequency by making revel in their guilty pleasure rather than feel bad about it.
In one of the most famous case studies ever, Porsche wanted non-Porsche drivers to respect the drivers a little more as driving enthusiasts rather than image conscious wankers - so that considerers wouldn't be put off.
Playstation wanted to move beyond their loyal, cult fanbase by getting more people join in, making the games a fun social thing for all, rather than a solitary pursuit.
Morrisons wants new visitors by redefining the stores from cheap and old fashioned to th best place for fresh quality food.
So, to recap. What's the objective? What audience is big enough and has the right interests and characteristics? Delve into the brand culture and the consumer culture - pinpoint what you want them do. What behavioural change can you influence that will deliver the results you want.
Coming back to Sainsburys - if we can get every customer to spend one more pound with every visit we'll hit the numbers we need to.
We want to change their behaviour from sleep shoppers - a boring routine in the store and a boring eating routine at home, to experimenters.
The task for communcations is to encourage safe experimentation - 'Try something new today'.
That's all for now, promise this will be finished this week....
If you want to be more creative, you could wear black and the occasional ironic t-shirt, maybe say 'no' a lot and even make logos invisible to the naked eye.
However, there are some psychological tricks you can employ instead.
1. Introduce some greenery. Red agitates us, blue relaxes us, but green both calms and invigorates. Get a pot plant, write in green ink, if you're running a workshop, wear a green t-shirt.
2. Do something else. The subconsious is very clever, you need to let it work. Once you know what the task is, do a word puzzle, anagram or play a bit of Sudoku. Then get back to it - your subconscious will have lots to tell you. On the other hand, if you hit a wall, just push it a little further, then do something completely different - stuff will just pop into your head and the subconscious carries on working.
3. Lay down. The bits of the brain that do the creative bit actually work better when you're horizontal.
4. Get into the frame of mind of someone else. Write down a day in the life of anyone creative, disruptive or anti- rules. A day in the life of a punk, an artist or a dancer. Your mind convinces itself it's brimming with ideas and creativity and off you go. Don't do this for a creative genius though - the mind get's intimidated and blocks - so no Da Vinci, Keats or Bono (just kidding about Bono). Or just ask yourself 'What would XX do?'.
5. Get some modern art. If you have a poster of a number of arrows all pointing in the same direction, except for one, the brain reacts the rule breaking...sounds silly, but it's proven.
6. Get interested. Every day, find out why something is as it is - like why tihs snetece is rdaedlabe tohugh it is slpet worng. The brain get's stimulation and you have lots of stuff stored to connect to.
Maybe trying to do something better than last time or just hit a deadline
Scurrying to do all the things you put of until later, but later is suddenly nowc dammit
Yep, very busy, busy existing. But living? Hmmm
I usually wake while the sun us still coming up. Tomorrow, I'm going to get up ten minutes earlier, drive a mile into the hills and just look at it. No reason, just want to remember I'm alive, I live in a beautiful part of the world and be grateful.
Everything's new when you start a job.When you present to a new client, it's not just them you're presenting to, you're being sized up by the new people you work with. A planner needs an account director to trust him/her, to feel comfortable putting you in front of their clients, I guess, in the end, they need to know you'll make them look good. It's not fair, but suits,clients and creatives can get along just fine without planners if they want. We have to earn our place in a room.
And yesterday went fine. Both in terms of doing a double hander with the account directing person from work and discussion with the client. Not perfect, but okay. Felt like I'd be invited back.
The day before, I was in charge of the cooking for Mothers Day. I bit off more than I could chew, deciding to cook three dishes I hadn't done before - proper Indian food, grinding spices, the lot. An hour before people arrived it was very apparent I needed to do at least three things at once. But we just about got there and everyone seemed to like it. Felt good to have managed it. Always a pleasure to see people enjoying the fruits of your labours, both from a vanity point of view and 'giving'.
That'll do for self congratulation, now lets move on to counting some blessings...
Hello Marionettes. From taking a break from being what others want you to be, to taking a break from being serious. More importantly, from a trite, spiritual, worthy tone, to, well, lightening up. I suspect they were trying to do the same thing with Duffy - it's a complicated world, times are serious, escape it for a bit, but just shows how tone is at least important as message (and what the hell were those awful blue tights?)
There's stuff you already know, like performing small acts of kindness can make you really happy - I'm well up on that score with the amount of tea I make but I'm sure I can do better.
One thing I like is getting into the habit of counting your blessings. Taking the time to appreciate the perfectly brilliant things in your life that get taken for granted.
For example, it amazes me how wer'e becoming used to things appearing in our lives that seem almost beyond science fiction and pure magery. My Ipod not only stores most of my over-large CD collection, I can get to any track in two seconds, I can create any playlist for any mood, I can even shoot a quick video and share it with the world in 15 minutes.
I grew up with cassette tapes and vinyl, even 10 years ago, what I can do now would have seemed pure fantasy.
And then there's moving jobs. Every day I have at least an extra two hours, for more swimming, more Will
and anything else I want. Yet I'm already getting used to it and moaning about having no time.
And then there's making the effort to write down thing that went well in your day, every day for a week. Think I might have a go at that.
So here's the first episode.
This morning I got up at just after 6 and went swimming. It was one of those mornings when I really wanted to just sleep in, but managed to haul myself to the pool. Only to find the fast lane dominated by a huge, twenty something powerhouse who looked very, very fast. Being slightly competitive, I hate swimming with people who are much faster than me, and I don't like getting in people's way.
But when I got in, I found that while I wasn't quite keeping up, he wasn't quite pulling ahead much either. It was little victory of age over beauty, but to be honest, it was just nice to know that I'm faster than I think I am.
Not to mention I did 1,500 meters in 20 minutes. That's the fastest yet this year, and, to be honest, the fastest I've gone since I was 20, mostly down to the fact I didn't do 1,500's if I could help it, but also because my body's beginning to do what it's told.
Why do the Americans get these great Coke Zero ads and we get utter dross?
No macho rubbish, just plenty of wit, story and characters all based around a truth (that came out research), Coke Zero tastes like the original. It might borrow from Orange Gold spots but who cares?
Next tells you 'do a brand ad' show them this. There is no good reason not to start with product/brand truth, hopefully a truth about how real people use/think about/feel about the product/brand and work outwards. Failure to do this is either down weak thinking, weak product or silly thought processes.
Of course, these will generate all sort of brand equity scores etc, but they engage and entertain you into believing that Coke Zero tastes the same as Coke original. And feel a world apart from the macho antics of other brands (and Coke Zero in the UK)
We're men and drink Pepsi max, it's not diet drink for fairies.
The more you try not to think about a problem, the more it gets lodged in your brain. Here's an experiment. Don't picture Rob Campbell in a Tutu, Don't think about it, don't imagine the matching leggings and pretty ballet shoes. Go on.
That's going to ruin your weekend.
The more you try not to think about chocolate, the more the stuff gets stuck in your mind.
In other words, there's no point pretending something isn't happening, or everything's okay. It just makes it worse, rather than finding a way to deal with it.
That's what certain agencies I could mention don't seem to get. If there's a rumour, an issue or some bad news, there is absolutely no point not being straight and fair with your staff. It will only stress them out and make things worse.
As a down with the kids, digital native, trend settingm finger on the pulse plannery type person, I do all social mediary, bloggy, Facebooky, Diggy widgety type things you would expect.
But the things that stood out the most for me recently was two simple bits of post. Someon put a little note in with a book they sent me, which was nice...to see the hand writing and picture the office it came from (from my old desk).
The other was a little package containing a leaving present - a block of Norwegian chocolate, a few Earl Grey tea bags and a little post card. It was from a Norwegian friend at old work who'd got dates mixed and missed my leaving date. Made me feel nice on my first day, slightly shy, nervous and stuff.
You can be thoughtful over t'interweb of course, but nothing's as intimate as something you can touch, that's been handwritten. Don't exactly know why, that's just how it is. So I'm very grateful Ben's invited me into Newspaper Club. Not entirely sure what a Northern Newspaper will include yet, any ideas? Not sure who would want one either, apart from Mum of course.
Now, if the postcard has a Ztam.p on it we'd really be in business. Anyway.....
She also took the opportunity to share the news that she's in my old desk and making tea properly. So that's good and the desk couldn't have gone to a nicer person (I miss my old department, despite the bullying over drinking coffee).
Anyway, I haven't had a chance to read it, obviously, since it arrived today, but I wanted to see how good he was as compressing useful stuff into digestible, doable chunks, since that's what I'm supposed to do for a living.
There's a good little epilogue at the back, very Behavioural Economicsy. There's a short paragraph that advises you get suspected liars to email you, people are 20% less likely to fib if they have to commit it to paper. I knew open plan offices were daft. I'm going demand my own office and shiny Yale padlock.
What's the business objective you're contributing? It's best to agree that as specific return over an agreed period of time....grow sales by 5% over the next three months, increase market share by 3%, generate £x million of revenue over quarters 3 and 4.
That gives you some big questions to ask and enables you to makes some judgments on the COMMUNICATIONS TASK. Where will this share, revenue come from? What audience? How many of them will we need to involve ourselves with?
Fundamentally, are you looking to get growth from existing users or new users?
If it's existing, are you maintaining loyalty? Increasing frequency? Turning them on to new variants?
If it's new - are you wanting to spur considerers to buy? Are you wanting create consideration?
This should lead you to understand what you're really doing - increasing brand awareness, altering brand perceptions delivering new news, justifying price, encouraging trial or whatever.
When Sainsburys asked AMV to help generate £1 billion more revenue, AMV had to decide of this should come from new customers or existing. When they broke down that revenue target, they realised that all they had to do was get an extra £1 from every customer visit. £1 billion sounds terrifying, £1 pound per visit from existing customers sounds very do-able.
Carex realised a few years back they could reach share targets by getting existing users to wash wash hands more during the day.
Break down the numbers into chunks that make it real. That will give you the communications task..
Encourage existing Sainsburys shoppers to spend an extra £1 every time they visit.
Get existing users of Carex to wash their hands more
Or Nike who needed who saw that growth would come from inspiring the same loyalty in women as they did with men.
Much of this should be in the client brief, but you would be amazed at the number of briefs that leave this out.
So this leads you to the target audience. You're answering two questions:
1. To whom will the communications be addressed?
2. What do we know about them that will help us?
It's critical because you need to understand them in depth, their relationship with the product, brand and design messaging, style, experience etc accordingly. They may think the product is great, but there's a problem how they perceive the brand. They may not have heard of the brand, they may not be using the product as much they should/could.
It also matters because you need to find the right way to engage with them and, when it comes to measurement of results, doing that with the right people.
You can define them demographically (ABC1 mothers aged between 25 and 35), attitudinally (real women who like fashion but don't take it too seriously) or even behaviorally (women wish they had the time to look good everyday, but can only make the effort the beauty regime requires on special occasions).
In the end, you're looking to answer- which group (s) can we influence that is BIG enough to deliver against the business objectives.
When it comes to understanding them - core questions tend to be:
What kind of people are they? What are their lives like? It helps to imagine a typical person and bring them to life in visuals and words. This is where TGI can be useful and other big, panel surveys, - you can mix demographics, attitudes and purchase behaviour in any way you like and will quickly tell you what size of audience you're dealing with and loads of other useful stuff about media habits etc to help you engage with them.
A word on TGI and developing audience definitions though - you need to have a think first. TGI always works best if you have a hypothesis of who you're after and then use the various statements to see how big that audience might be. For example, if you're launching a mass market naturally sourced product, there's no point going after people who only buy food with no additives for example - intuitively, the audience will be too tiny. Have a think about who might be interested in your product, and what they might be interested in, and have a play. Think about TGI qualitatively and let th data prove or disprove your hunch/point.
Another thing to think about here is that you shouldn't stop with TGI generalisations. That will only get yu to a point when you know you've got an audience of the right size, interests, behaviour and attitudes. That will only get you to stereotypes, cliches and banality. This is where you need to start looking for insight - something you know about how they relate to/use th product/brand/category that no one has really addressed before.
Going back to Sainsburys, they found that their audience tended to sleepshop - stuck in rut, bored with buying the same old stuff without the tools or courage to try something different.
Honda found that they needed to make the brand interesting. Once people test drove the car, they tended to buy, but it just didn't occur to them.
Nike found that they had lost their credibility with serious athletes.
Axe found that to increase frequency, they had to inspire users to use it in the morning.
VW found that considerers wanted a Golf but compromised with a less good imitation to save money.
At it's best, this part of comms planning finds the right audience, frames the objective in terms of what you want them to do, know or feel that they don't right now and presents the opportunity then get where you need to.
A useful tool is to lay out the purchase funnel - lay out the target's unique decision process and figure out which point you can best influence. At each step, ask why someone will fail to make the transition forwards, what can communications do about it...
Read what they read, be them for the day, but at the end of the day, you can't beat going out and actually meeting them in their environment. Think about how the product/category fits into their life, or where it could fit in - work out the true culture around the category.
I really love the relaunch of Old Spice. Of course, young men spray to confidence in the mating game - but in all aspects, the try too hard. What they seek is experience, they want to be seen as experienced and to get some.Rather than macho men with something to prove. Which neatly fell into the lap of th brand - "If your grandfather hadn't used Old Spice, you probably wouldn't be here".
That will do for now, more later. Is this making sense? Useful?
You may know I've switched jobs. You tend to move for 'big' things - money, culture, new challenges, location, work life balance, your last place gave you no choice. But what matters in your first few days/weeks is the small things. Top 1o things I think you really need to know when you start a new agency are:
1. When is payday and have I joined in time to make this months payroll?
2. Where is the kitchen?
3. Where do I get stationary?
4. What are the REAL hours?
5. Where is accounts? How do you claim expenses?
6. Who and where are traffic (they know everything and you should get to know them quick)?
7. What are the cliques and friendship groups (they are always there)?
8. Where is IT, what are they like? Where is everything on the system?
9. What do people do for lunch? I want to join in and stuff (assuming anyone takes a lunch!) but I don't want to be pushy and I'm shy. Will people think I'm arrogant if I keep to myself?
10. What's the best route to work and back? How long does it really take?
Walking through the door is always a leap, especially when you're shy. The tour around the place is always awkward, people sizing you up, trying to think of something to say to everyone, knowing you'll immediately forget everyone's name. I hate the royal family but you've got to admire the way they do the endless meet and greets without cutting their hearts out with a blunt spoon.
So I've quietly been getting on with training for the Great North Swim. Working out my notice at TBWA helped getting in the swing of things, amongst thinking about women's hair and chickens (not at the same time) I progressively had more time to, in the first instance, have a lunch break of sorts, and then really long lunch breaks.
The first few sessions we're the same. 800 meters warm up. Swim 1,500 meters (nearly a mile) as hard as I can. Rest for two minutes, then swim 800 meters as hard as I can. It was all about baking some endurance into muscles that were not only used to not swimming as much as they should, they hadn't been asked to do long distance swimming much at all, ever.
At first, just getting through the 1,500 has been tough, at around 1,000 everything started getting ragged and progressively worse. The 800 was a nightmare.
It's always odd when you do your very first session. It's at once depressing finding out how bad you are and exhilarating to be back in the routine, knowing you're going to improve, anticipating the day when the hurt begins to fade a bit and you have space to REALLY train, looking forward to weird trance like state when you're at one with you're body, not really thinking, totally lost in it. Not really present, but in the moment more than ever.
That's what most swim races were like for me. The odd trance state thing. I can't really describe the build up or the race, but I can vividly remember how it felt to finish. Weird that.
Anyway, eventually there was the session when the pain still kicked in, then went away. It's been like that ever since and I'm getting faster. Little niggles in the stroke are getting evened out. My elbow wasn't high enough on the left, meaning my head came too far out of the water when I breathed, meaning my legs kicked too hard to keep balance....little things, small corrections.
This week I'm going to introduce some speed. 50m sprints, probably 20 of them with 10 second rests in between. I'll need that at the start and at the end. When open water races start, it's crowded, a bit of a free for all, you get elbows in the face once or twice. I want to pull away from as many people as possible. Then at the end, I don't want to limp home, I want to get that extra zip in the last few hundred meters, it will feel good and I fancy overtaking people at the end, no matter how badly I've done.
I'm going to experiment with some medleys (a length of every stroke).They get the heart pounding and it will stop any muscle imbalances developing - the problem with doing front crawl all the time is that you can't help using some muscles on one side more than the other. It doesn't matter over short distances, you breathe every three strokes, alternating sides...but that' not possible over long distances, not for me.
Anyway, if you're not bored by this, I might resurrect Tired is Stupid. I never did that properly, but the three people who read it liked some bits of it.
If, like me, you have one or two planning craft skills but are finding you need to catch up really fast on things with a bit more a digital focus (and let's face it, who isn't? Not least when planning for anything that's likely to involve the web, which is pretty much everythin these days, is as much about technology and execution way before a creative brief - if you bother with one), a good place to start is this post and the links to previous subjects.