Thursday, January 19, 2017

False Sense of Plus-ness

I just got a piece of solicitation mail. Some people call it “junk” mail. But I don’t call it “junk”. It’s a numbers game to them .. they wouldn’t send it if it didn’t work.

On the outside was stamped in red ink (and slightly askew): “DO NOT BEND”.

Hmmmm. Must be a photograph inside. Or a special reward. Or a secret prize.

Whatever it is, it must be important, because after all, they forbid me from bending it!

Nah, it was just a letter asking for money for a local charity.

But the purpose of the envelope in solicitation mail is to be opened. And it succeeded.

It worked because of one of the oldest tricks in marketing: the attachment of a false sense of worth. Whatever was in that envelope was precious enough to be preserved in an un-bent state. Therefore, I was compelled to investigate.

I call it the false sense of plus-ness. Sometimes it’s urgency. Sometimes it’s value. Sometimes it’s rarity or popularity.

In every case, it’s the false sense that this product is better, cheaper, or more desirable than it really is. It has more “gotta-have-it”; it has more “plus”.

“If the lines are busy, keep trying.” Wow, a lot of people want this product; phones are literally ringing off the hook.

“If you call in the next 15 minutes ... “ But if you call 16 minutes later, you’ll be out of luck.

“But wait! We’ll double your order!” At the beginning of the commercial, they were only going to sell me one. But they had a change of heart 30 seconds later. I’m so blessed!

Marketing is as old as the world’s oldest profession. A good marketer knows how to squeeze every ounce out of the value of his product. The paradox is that when the value gets “squeezed”, it may very well be “stretched”.

Hyperbole? Perhaps. Over-used? Definitely.

But inappropriate? Nah. Our 21st century mind can filter the noise and distinguish what’s really true and really valuable.

Besides. I wanted to open that envelope anyway. Woulda done it even if it hadn’t said “DO NOT BEND”. Really. I’m not that dumb.

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