By Slim Man
I had an idea to write a book called The Complete Idiots Guide to Complete Idiots. I figured, in life, if you can stay away from idiots, you’ll be much better off. So I went to the Complete Idiots website, and actually submitted a synopsis and the first chapter. True story. But I never heard back from them. I followed up a few times, but no word.
In show biz, no response usually means “no”. Can you imagine the humiliation? You submit a book to the Complete Idiots people, and they turn you down. Shot down by complete idiots!
I have Attention Surplus Syndrome—you know the acronym. I think about things way too long. And I started thinking about the whole Complete Idiots line of books. If you’re trying to market and sell books, do you want to call your potential customers “complete idiots”? Is the word “complete” really necessary? Couldn’t you just call the book series “The Idiots Guide to…”?
I have a new cookbook. It’s called Slim Man Cooks. Maybe if I had called it Hey You Stupid Morons! Learn How to Cook! I’d sell more copies. But I obviously don’t know much about marketing, because the Complete Idiots line of books are selling well.
So, either people don’t care about the title, or there are a lot of complete idiots out there.
I find other methods of marketing questionable.
Last week I was driving back to Palm Springs from a Slim Man concert in San Juan Capistrano, CA, when I saw a billboard on the side of the highway…
“Text 1234 to ER to find out wait times for our emergency room.”
That billboard got me thinking.
First of all, if you’re going to the emergency room, you’re probably gonna go to the closest one, not the one with the shortest wait times. Why? Because you’re having an emergency. For instance, if your wife just hacked off her pinkie toe with the weed-whacker, you don’t want to say, “Hey, Hon. Let me fire up my phone and check out ER wait times for all the local hospitals.”
No. You’re gonna want to take your wife to the nearest emergency room. Or maybe call a toe-truck!
Second of all, I’m driving 4,000 pounds of steel and iron at 65 mph and they want me to start texting an emergency room? Who was the marketing genius that came up with this idea?
When I got back to the Slim Shack, I unpacked my stuff, and did some reading. I’m reading a book called The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize-winning author. The book is about how to change bad habits and how to develop new ones.
It also goes over consumer habits, and how corporations are using these habits to market to customers. Take Target for instance. They have a way of marketing to consumers that I thought was pretty sneaky.
Suppose you’re a couple expecting your first baby. You go to Target and buy a book called The Complete Idiots Guide to Raising an Infant. Now, I’m sure there is not a book with that title. But I have witnessed complete idiots trying to raise children.
But if you’re in Target buying an actual book about raising an infant, Target starts sending you coupons for diapers, cribs, strollers, car seats—everything new parents need for their newborn.
You’d think these parents would be offended by the sneakiness. But it was the exact opposite. They welcomed all the coupons. Why? Because parents who are expecting a baby are overwhelmed. To be able to find everything they need in one place at a discount is a relief. The Target marketing campaign increased their bottom line by millions of dollars a year.
We’re being marketed to everywhere, all the time. All of our habits are being watched, data is being gathered constantly. It’s inescapable. Suppose you’re on the Internet, and you Google “How to End a Bad Relationship”. All of a sudden you’re getting pop-up ads for poison blow-darts.
Now that’s what I call marketing.