January 19, 2018
Beware the Starving Pigeons
Who said "You'll never go broke underestimating the taste of the American people?" Rupert Murdoch? P.T. Barnum? Or F.W. Woolworth? Make your decision please. (beat) Times up. Pencils down. The answer is the man who brought us the circus geek and bearded lady, P.T. Barnum. Although the others pretty much followed Barnum's example.

There was a recent article in Scientific American which looked into marketing and, as it turns out, we the people are pretty easy to manipulate and perhaps even stupid. They know you are more likely to send in a $20 donation IF they send you two-cents worth of return address labels because the human animal craves reciprocation.

They have done experiments and know you will follow a man crossing the street against the light 350% more often if he is wearing a business suit rather than two sleeping bags and 18 pounds of grime because humans respond to successful authority figures.

They know if they say "Four out of five doctors recommend..." you won't worry about what the fifth doctor had to say even though four out of five doctors used to recommend opening your veins and running out half your blood to cure a headache.

Even been in a furniture store, looking around and the salesman says "That's an ugly couch. Get up before your wife sees you on it and dumps you for someone with taste." Of course not. All customers have terrific taste according to all salesmen. Recently, my wife and I were looking at couches and fabric samples and the sales guy said, "I just did a big star's home in this chenille." So I should buy a couch from you because Dom De Luise is eating a meatball sandwich on this chenille right now?

There's an acupuncture clinic that does facelifts without surgery. A satisfied customer said, after an acupuncture treatment her faces "Feels so young, so alive." You know why? You just had needles in your face. You want your face to feel real alive, hit it with a soup ladle. You'll feel like you're back in the womb.

Why are we consumers so easy to convince?

Have you seen those ads for the pill that helps you "lose weight in your sleep?" They know you will believe you can lose weight by doing nothing because the powerful combination of vanity and sloth trumps logic 59.3% of the time.

Actually, I just made that number up. Which is a good example of how saying-it-authoritatively-on-the-radio-just-makes-it-so.

What's my point? Every time you walk into a store, watch T.V. or listen to a politician speak imagine you are a french fry at a starving pigeon convention. You don't have a chance. They know where your buttons are and how to push them. Hide your buttons and beware the starving pigeon.