Marketing Chap: The Batman of Blogging

There are some important things to know about Mark Etingchap (that’s Marketing Chap, to you):

Oh, yes, and, the most important thing of all:

  • Mark Etingchap is not a real person. 

I was first alerted to the existence of Mr. Etingchap when a mutual social media (Twitter) acquaintance, Christine Infanger (@norabarnacle), music industry writer for Think Like a Label, retweeted one of his blog posts. After perusing the excellent content on Mr. Etingchap’s website, I tweeted to Christine something to the effect of “Is this guy for real?” I was intrigued. I trust Christine’s judgement. She’s a solid person. Who was this Mark Etingchap who wrote such interesting blog posts? I dug around. After all, context matters, reputation matters, because on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Aren’t reputation, trust, transparency, and being genuine all a big part of the new online media experience? Have you looked at any of the Marketing Chap social media profiles I’ve linked to by now? If you haven’t, take a moment to do that now. You will immediately understand what I am referring to.

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Online Man of Mystery

Other than Mr. Etingchap’s branded or self-created content (social media profiles, comments on other blog), I could find only two independent references to the man online:

For someone with secret identity, much like Batman, Mr. Etingchap has put a lot of time and effort – even money – into his social media presence. His brand is engaging and consistent. He is very popular. Branding expert, Kestum Bilt says there are a few important reasons:

  • His blog delivers stunningly insightful social media content.
  • He is well-spoken, culturally consistent, and a delightful social media conversationalist.
  • He seems like a regular chap, someone you would want to have a drink with after work and get a few business networking tips from.
  • He takes on some of the most interesting and timely subjects in social media, such as this recent post on his investigation of an author’s fake Twitter followers and the kerfuffle that ensued.
  • He has nothing for sale. There’s something satisfying about the mystery of someone who seems purely in the game to give.
  • He’s charming – there’s just no other way to say it. His visual brand and written voice are nostalgic and comforting, perhaps elitist in a rogueish sort of way. Or perhaps that’s just my Anglophile bias showing.

Does It Matter If You Are Real – Or Is Content Truly Everything On Social Media?

Upon following Mr. Etingchap on Twitter, I connected with him on LinkedIn, and we had a little conversation by message, in which, being the somewhat blunt person I am, I asked him if he was a social media construct:LinkedInConversation












Content Without Sales, Influence Without An Agenda

I find the whole idea of Mark Etingchap and his social media presence to be fascinating, and asked if I might interview him further for a blog post. The idea of creating a persona with real influence, achieving tangible things thing yet remaining essentially a figure without an identity, is interesting to me. It seems like social media performance art. There are parallels to the Batman character, and also to more sinister characters online such as Anonymous (not a single person, but still). To what purpose will this influence be turned, as we know so little about motive when we do not have context?

After all, most social-media “gurus” are online to do one or more of the following: get a job, sell a book, get booked as a public speaker, or sell their marketing or other products or services.

We shared some additional conversation about motive, and one quote struck me in particular from Mr. Etingchap. I do hope doesn’t mind me sharing it, as I believe it sheds some light on his motives:

Your observation about this being a ‘pure content play’ is astute. So many self-described experts promote their real identity with very thin or non-existent content. I endeavour to do the opposite.

The Marketing Chap Interview

I was intrigued enough to want to get to know Mr. Etingchap a bit better, so here is the email interview I conducted with him. I hope you find it enlightening, or at least amusing:

1. First, can I ask, was there a triggering event that led you to start your blog and create the Marketing Chap social media presence and brand?

Indeed there was. Social media in general (and Twitter in particular) became all the rage at my club roughly two years ago. Being quickly branded as a chap in the know, I was constantly being buttonholed by chaps hoping to boost their Twitter following. Although flattering at first, it quickly grew rather tiresome. The blog was begun so that I could quickly dispatch these inquiries with, ‘I say, old stick, the whole thing is laid out clearly in my blog. Have a gander.’ This is a polite way of saying, ‘Shove off, chap!’

2. Your visual brand and brand voice are most certainly distinctive. Can you tell us the story of your brand? Would you explain a bit about what values you feel are most central to your brand personality? What process did you use to design your “logo” and other visual elements of your brand? Was this a difficult process?

There is no real story to tell, as such. It is merely me wrought into digital form. The image I use was a portrait drawn by the renowned artist Esther Keziah Harding, who, besides being a chapette of the first order, is also one of the Good Eggs profiled on the blog. As for the rest of the branding, everything has been designed by me without much planning. Merely an instinctive effort with a bit of tweaking after the fact.

No particular branding strategy has been followed. I have tried to keep things fairly professional looking, but nothing more complicated. My blog, Twitter account, and other social media presences were started for my own personal enjoyment, and not with the idea of designing a brand. The fact that my content and brand have resonated much more widely than anticipated has been a pleasant surprise, but not because of some sort of pre-designed marketing strategy.

3. Let’s talk a bit about your content strategy. How do you decide what to write about on your blog? Do you have a content calendar? Do you follow a schedule? What tools do you yourself use to monitor and manage your social media presence?

What I choose to write about is a purely reflection of what I feel like writing about at any given moment. Sometimes I can anticipate a certain sort of post will be popular, and I try to avoid posts that do not fit within the general scheme, but there is nothing more sophisticated than this. My post about Gopherspace, a term now long forgotten, is a case in point. I wanted to write about this, so I did. The same applies to my most successful post to date, the recent post about Deborah Perry Piscione. I was feeling rather cheesed off about being threatened with a ‘cease and desist’ letter, so I wrote a post.

There is no calendar per se, although I try to keep a mental note of how often I should be posting. I would post every day if I had the time and energy. As I do not, I post whenever I have space in my day, or when something especially exciting pops into the cranium that requires the urgent putting of pen to paper..

I use very few tools. I regularly use ManageFlitter to manage my Twitter followers, and occasionally glance at Kred (and sometimes Klout). If this was a corporate account with sales to track, I would invest in tools. As it is, I don’t think a great many tools are necessary.

4. What are your long term goals for the Marketing Chap social media presence? Do you have an exit strategy?

I have no long term goals, nor exit strategy. My medium term goals are to (1) finish the new version of, (2) publish some previous posts as an eBook, and (3) get the Good Egg programme back up and running (very much an issued tied up with goal #1).

I should say, just under a year ago I began to get enquiries from various companies interested in my project and wanting to learn more. Some of these have turned into very valuable business relationships. It has never been a goal for this to happen, but it is certainly a welcome and valuable by-product.

5. Can you speak a bit about the community you have built around the Marketing Chap brand? What has been most important to this community? How would you describe your community (do you have a target market profile or persona)? Of all your online activities or actions, what has been the most successful and fruitful in building your community (and how do you define success)?

The community has been the best part of the Marketing Chap experience, and the only reason it has enjoyed any success at all. I have no particular target, although when I do go out following chaps I hope will follow back I seek out those in the PR, advertising, and marketing industries. The most successful community building activities have been: the Good Egg programme (by far) and the LinkedIn group, Chapworking.

6. How would you respond to the criticism that you are a master of disguise in a medium that emphasizes trust, transparency and authenticity?

Am I being criticised? I’ve not seen it if so. I probably deserve a bit of criticism, but so far none has been put forward. In fact, I sometimes wonder if the lack of criticism I receive is an indication I should be pushing boundaries a bit harder here or there.

I would say this: I make no claims about my abilities or accomplishments except for what is on public display and easily checked by all. I would never stoop to calling myself a ‘guru,’ ‘thought leader,’ or any of the other various gimcrack titles thrown about online these days. I also ask for no money from my readers nor try to sell them anything. If anyone is unhappy with what I write or how I position myself I would assume they just move along to someone else.

I have yet to be approached by anyone complaining I lack authenticity. Other than family relations, I mean. I would be interested to hear their argument. If it happens I will get in touch.

7. Is there a particular moment in your embodiment of Mark Etingchap that has been most meaningful to you, most sweetly satisfying – some specific time you felt “Ah, this is what the Marketing Chap is all about” ?

The moment I read this blog post by Marta Cowburn (@MCC_SilverDoor).

8. Do you have a background in theater?

Crikey, no! Not since school, at least, and even then it was only when it could not be avoided.

9. As this is a music and social media blog, I must ask a musical question: What was the first live music event you ever attended?

Honestly I haven’t the foggiest. Do forgive. I have faint memories of being dragged off to organ recitals at the parish church by various aunties. Trauma, no doubt, has caused me to bury this memory rather deeply.

10. What is the most popular blog post on your site?

The recent post, The Curious Case of Deborah Perry Piscione. Over 300 social shares and counting.

11. Is there any advice you would give someone just beginning their own personal online branding journey?

Don’t read too much advice from other chaps. Do what comes naturally. If presented with any rules about how blogging should or should not be done, try to break as many as possible.

12. Any last words? That doesn’t sound quite right. Any final words of wisdom?

The creative industries (I speak of PR, marketing, advertising, design, copywriting, etc) tend to attract a certain type of chap, but in practice most firms prize originality. There is no harm in experimenting with something completely different and unknown and seeing if anyone is interested. This is a much better course, in my opinion, than copying or emulating others.

13. Where can our readers learn more about you, Mr. Etingchap?

Blimey, why would they wish to do that?! Surely they have better things to do. If they are unable to shake the desire, however, they are free to email me with any questions. chap {at} marketingchap {dot} com

14. Sorry – One more question I thought of,’if you are game: “Mark Etingchap/Don Draper: Compare and Contrast”

The comparison has been made before, but I fear I am in no position to comment. I have never actually seen ‘Mad Men.’ A shocking omission, I know, and I hope to rectify the situation soon. I watch so little television, you see. I only recently watched Downton Abbey for the first time (after much cajoling).

What do you think of Mark Etingchap’s online persona? I suppose it is possible that he is in fact, one Alan Cole, whom I discovered has the Twitter handle @MarketingChap – but I would, in some ways, be disappointed to discover who Mark Etingchap really is. Let the mystery (and the social media experiment) continue!

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    1. The pleasure was all mine, Mr. Etingchap. I hope you are not too
      chuffed with me. 🙂 Your achievements are indeed quite impressive and, I sense, your cause noble.

  1. Great work! Well done chipping away at the man behind the mystery. As an early follower of Marketing Chap I remember googling “Who is Marketing Chap?” to see if I could be so lucky as to stumble upon to truth so easily. Eventually, the mystique settles and sometimes I forget he’s not actually the man in the picture with a pipe! He’s truly done a great job of developing a brand and, what’s more, his generosity and willingness to help others is amazing. I’ve yet to figure this guy out. I’m definitely a fan. He had me at Chapette!

  2. Solveig, thanks so much for the mention, and above all, thank you for the amazing interview with Chap! I must admit, I’m a bit smitten with Chap; he’s helpful and insightful, and, I’m not afraid to state that Chapworking has acted as a support group on more than one occasion.
    Chap and members of the group have offered sound advice and been at the ready to ‘listen’ to my concerns many times.
    While I’ve always presupposed that Chap lives somewhere between London and the BatCave, I don’t suppose his ‘actual’ identity matters much. It’s apparent that he gives sound advice, knows of what he speaks, engages his audience, and is, indeed, a good egg all the way ’round. I suppose ultimately, that matters more than his real name and what he really looks like. (Even though I really would like to have a pint with him one day 🙂

    1. Christine – Thank YOU for introducing me to Marketing Chap! I sincerely hope you have the chance to get your pint with him some day. It’s great to hear a testimonial about Chapworking – I only recently joined myself. I admit, I have not availed myself of the myriad of LinkedIn networking opportunities, it is always good to hear firsthand of one that is especially good, I will definitely put that on my list of to-do’s.

    1. Michael – Thank you so much for catching that error! I have corrected it. My sincere apologies to Mr. Etingchap.

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