My Origin Story

Unravelling the Many Layers of the Grasshopper Monster 

My name is Mark Lambert and I'm a sensibly unusual content specialist. Before getting into all that though, I want to be clear that my style is not for everyone. If you're looking for strictly conventional and technique-driven copywriting, you may find my approach distastefully unconventional. You may even think I'm *gasp* slightly weird. And that's completely OK.

My little corner of the writing world is for clients seeking a spicy tang of the unusual in their brand development and sales literature. If that sounds good, I look forward to meeting you! 

...I Can Explain

So what's the deal with sensibly unusual content marketing? 

The phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Sorry about that. But if you'll bear with me just a few minutes, I think I can make a strong case that "sensibly unusual" content can build your brand, sell your products and generally make this whole business of exchanging currency for goods 'n services a lot more fun for everyone involved.  

But let's begin at the beginning... It all started in a more innocent and shoulder-padded age: the early Eighties.

Fear me. For I am the Grasshopper Woman.

My Mom, 1982

When I was seven, my (usually kind-hearted) mom informed me that, on the night of a full moon, she transformed into a deadly brain-devouring grasshopper human hybrid. To reinforce the deathly seriousness of this claim, she made her eyes go all large, swiveled her head as if sniffing for prey and made vaguely threatening pincer finger gestures at me. 

I sat there stunned. Her shock admission left me equal parts fascinated, horrified and hungry (it was close to lunch-time and I knew for a fact that fruit roll-ups were in the snack cupboard).

Of course, I didn't believe her. I knew it was all part of some long-game she was playing to force me to eat carrots. 

And yet ... some part of me wondered ... 

... what if? 


The Power of "What If"?

My skin would prickle and my heart would race as I pondered how my otherwise entirely non-super-powered mother came to be afflicted with such an infernal curse. Would she use her insectile powers for good or evil? Would I one day inherit these unusual abilities?

In the months that followed, I became voracious for more information. I nagged her relentlessly until she had no choice but to build a sweeping saga about her secret grasshopper existence, from her tragic origin story (bitten by a cursed Madagascan locust) to her secret insectile kryptonite (black jelly beans). 

The story gained a life of its own. Without realizing it, my sweet yet quasi-dastardly mom had created a monster, and it wasn't an enormous insectile humanoid cursed to wander the streets on the night of the full moon. 

She'd built a very specific kind of story — these days it'd be called an urban legend.  


My Guilty Secret

Flash forward a couple of decades to the early 2000s. College and a steady diet of U2's Joshua Tree album have transformed me into a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed altruist. A humanitarian aid worker, I'm traveling the world convinced I have what it takes to save the huddling masses. 

But I have a guilty secret. 

Whatever odd corner of the globe I end up in, I never fail to make time to seek out those odd, whispered stories — the ones that make you lean forward, mouth dry with expectation, eyes alight with the question: "then what happened?" From tales in Fiji of ghosts who feasted exclusively on the souls of taxi drivers, to stories in Cambodia of the man who was swallowed whole by an elephant and lived to tell the tale, I realized that wherever I went, I only had to dig a little to find this same odd kind of story tucked away in local folklore.

And they all shared that unique property of being simultaneously contagious and addictive.

These stories became my secret passion project. I had to unravel their inner workings. So I did what any self-respecting nerd would do. I studied. I delved into the fundamentals of writing, plundered obscure techniques of copywriting and devoured the classic structures of plot and character development. They all left clues, sure, but nothing I found truly answered the question which gnawed at the fizzing gizzards of my seething curiosity:

what makes an urban legend ... well ... legendary?

I Found The "Source Code" For Stories That Stick

And then it was 2013. I'd sworn off U2, quit my career as a humanitarian worker and was building a reputation as a capable copywriter with a knack for spinning a yarn. Oh sure I was good at what I did, but it bugged me that I still hadn't found the miraculous story juju that had so captivated my imagination way back when I was a kid convinced that my mom might sprout antenna and eat my brain. 

One night (for the sake of this story let's say it was dark and stormy), I threw all my writing tomes aside and I went straight to the source. I began to study legend itself. After an hour of reading, my palms were damp and I could feel a tremble of butterflies dancing in my chest.

I knew I was close to my grail...

I switched off my phone, set an email auto-responder and dived into reading everything I could find about the theory of legend. Two days later, I emerged from my coffee-fueled crusade with three basic, driving elements to folklore. When combined, these elements have the power to make a story dangerously, contagiously addictive. They whip the embers of an idea into story wildfire which blazes long after the initial spark of the telling dwindles away.


Three Secrets to a Perfectly Addictive Story

It all comes down to this:

1. Never isolate the listener

Nothing in your story — nothing! — should be explained in a social vacuum. Every legend links the hero, the nemesis and the outcome to the social fabric which binds us. All powerful legends are built around relationships.

2. Always sidestep the brain

Humans think too much. Our oversized brains seek patterns and are relentless in analyzing the information surrounding us. Bypass this. Never imprison a story inside ideas, no matter how technical or abstract the subject matter. Instead, harness the senses, leverage emotions, hide meaning in the shadows for the reader to discover. 

3. Blend the familiar with the bizarre

This was the hardest piece of the puzzle to find, and it was also the most jagged little pill (this one's for you, Alanis) to swallow. Psychologists refer to the phenomenon, rather fancily, as "minimal counter-intuitiveness." But simplified for our purposes, memorable stories dance a line between the expected and the unexpected. The stuff that clings to memory playfully swizzles the mundane with the weird.

Which brings us right back round in a neat little circle to the power of "sensibly unusual" content.

Sensibly Unusual Copy Works ... Pretty Much Everywhere

Since we humans have been painting our exploits onto cave walls, we've also been etching the basic tenets of story-telling into our DNA. Stories are who we are. And it doesn't matter if you're selling gym socks or trying to save the world, your best and most powerful tool for making it happen is to weave a story. 

You might be asking, so what has this got to do with me wanting to sell more solar powered parsnip choppers? And how does this help me position my reputable, professional brand with reputable and professional people? Well, here's the thing. Since I found these three secrets to legend-driven writing I've tried it everywhere.

  • I've woven a social backdrop into white papers. 
  • I've slivered unexpected and jarring words into product descriptions. 
  • I've painted odd sensory backdrops into content marketing copy...

Have I made mistakes along the way? Sure. I'll own up to that. But over years of experimentation, I've refined a robust, flexible repertoire of techniques for flowing these three mesmeric elements through every piece of copy which leaves my desk...  

...and it always out-converts conventional copywriting. 

It will work for your brand and business, just as effectively as it drew me in as a grasshopper-obsessed seven year old. If you want people to not just read about you but to talk about you, I can help. If you want your readers to chuckle, snort and — yes I'm going to come right out and say it — gurgle, then hit me up. I'm passionate about making that happen. 

I'm a writer of sensibly unusual copy. 

And I'm available for hire.

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. 

Samuel Johnson

Want To Get a Bit Sensibly Unusual?