A little while ago, my friend told me the story of his wife who grew up in an eastern European country. (no, he didn’t buy her.)
When they both moved back to California, she didn’t know many people, and didn’t work at first, so while he was at work, she would watch TV a lot.
He started to notice that she would buy things she saw on the TV. At first he figured she just was bored, so he didn’t say anything. After a while he noticed that she had bought several sets of the same knifes.
When he asked her about it, she explained to him that after she bought the first set, the commercial came on again and suggested that she buy more. “But they said I had to have it!” she exclaimed.
Growing up with TV around has put a pretty big damper on most of us in the US towards marketing. The above story may seem unbelievable or stupid. It’s second nature to understand that the people in the commercials are saying whatever they can say to get us to buy stuff from them. Not knowing that can obviously be dangerous and expensive.
What I find interesting is how often people leave that expectation behind in so many other experiences. Don’t forget how may parties, organizations, and individuals have a vested interest in selling you something. It really amazes me how much people want to trust the government when I believe that makes as much sense as buying something because the TV tells you absolutely must have one.
As important as it is in business and life to know your customer, you must also know whos selling you something.
Second, and perhaps more importantly – understand how to weed out the bullshit. Don’t assume your first take on what has been communicated to you is the correct take. Marketing is a highly developed art form and is designed to take advantage of human emotion, instinct, and just about anything else that you don’t realize you do. Marketing is truly the oldest profession and is all about getting you to buy, or buy into something you don’t need. Because of this, it’s inherently lies.
For the marketing people out there, I apologize. This is a legitimate skill, something I wish I was better at, and obviously has a valid place in society. I don’t want to demonize the sales guys out there. I’d just like people to realize that the people that hide that they’re selling you something to fess up, or at least be known for what they are.
Keep an eye out, they’re everywhere. Wearing the camoflage that they can to keep you from seeing them. Politicians, bankers, religious zealots, charities, and more.
Yes. They’re out to get you, and they are the ones with the black helecopters.