Monday, August 25, 2008

Guilt Trip

I'm watching a television show geared towards my six-year old on television. It's a commercial break and a Sinister Stepford Mom is doing the hard sell on me. In the background, her young children are finishing up their learning-tool program while simultaneously accepting their advanced degree diplomas from Harvard.

According to the mother doing the pitch, If I don't buy the product that will help my child learn to read the entire works of Tolstoy by the time he's done eating his bowlful of Sugar Fruit-Simulated SpongeBob High Fructose Corn Syrup Snaps...if I don't buy this freakin' product from this wildly grinning Automaton Soccer Mom, I'm essentially confirming her suspicion that my goal is to destroy the children of the earth.

This technique practiced my marketers is, in my opinion, on an ethical par with randomly attacking the elderly in shopping malls with spiked bats. It's a pre-mediated attempt to make money by attempting to make you, the parent, feel like squirrel manure.

Resist, my fellow parents. Let your children be children. These people are concerned about your kids well being about as much as Charlie Mansion was concerned about grammatical syntax.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Compelling, isn't it?

I’m hardly breaking new ground here when I say that, without a compelling reason to buy, well, people don’t buy things. Whether it’s their own personal money or somebody else’s. They just don’t.

Oh yeah, there are a couple of exceptions. The impulse buy is known to all, usually most recognizable as you’re about to drop a hundred and a half on eats at your local supermarket. You’ve got that downtime waiting in line and, amongst other marketing messages assaulting you, including those new LCD brainwashing screens, you are blasted with headlines and glossies about the Celebrity du Jour and how their lives have reached the tipping point. Damn you, Brad and Angelina!! Couldn’t you have shelved and rationed some of that perfection for the rest of us?

There’s a whole industry, sometimes called the impulse giftware industry that falls in line here. Remember the Troll Dolls? I once had a compelling reason to buy a troll doll but then my meds wore off.

If your livelihood is dependent on others buying your stuff, re-read the first sentence.

If also what you’re selling is a commodity, your job just exponentially increased in difficulty, in particular, the time it will take to build, nurture and manage the relationships necessary for people to buy from you instead of the eighteen other knuckleheads with identical products trying to knock down their door.

So what is a compelling reason? Well, that’s easy. You’re a consumer, also. You buy goods and services. Most of these things you buy because you need them; some because it strikes a chord. Either way, unless you’re extremely gullible and/or easily manipulated, NOBODY has EVER sold you anything. You bought it.

The bad news is unless your employer happens to be The Buddha or some other enlightened person or entity, they’re not interested in your sob story. All they know is, twice a month, the direct deposit goes from their account into yours. They pay you for results. Everything else is Charlie Brown’s teacher addressing the classroom.

If your company has a marketing division capable of providing quality leads, you may be in a very good situation. If you are expected to create your own leads- on top of turning these people (most of them complete strangers) into customers- pack a lunch because it’s going to take awhile. Perhaps most important, if you are skilled and clever enough to not only produce these leads but to walk the prospects down the aisle and into the abject bondage that is marriage (Sorry….I completely lost my head there…let me start over).

If you posses the skills required to turn a complete stranger into a customer of ANY product or service (yours or somebody else’s), you are the custodian of probably the most important tool required to be an entrepreneur and business owner instead of an employee.

Editor’s note: Sadly, this also happens to be the ONLY skill of world-class con men.

Assuming you are a decent human being and you have the requisite communications skills, some marketing savvy, basic management skills, something to offer that people either need or want, at least a two-litre container of integrity and (THIS IS HUGE) the unwavering confidence to shed yourself of the dependency of the moods and whims of others (read: a boss), it’s time to pull the rip-cord and stop making others wealthy in exchange for security.

On the concept of security, and not just job security. I’ve got some bad news for you, Sunshine. Pink isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel and there is no security in life. Ask the bazillionaire as he draws his last breath about security. That’s not negativity, its reality and it’s not a bad thing. It just is.

Editor’s note, Part Deux: This piece was intended to be about a concept known in Marketing as “Compelling Reason to Buy”.

As John Belushi’s Bluto Blutarsky’s character in Animal House said to the untalented acoustic guitarist on the stairwell in Delta House, moments after utterly humiliating him in front of several fawning females by turning his guitar into electron-sized wooden splinters……sorry.