Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marketing Lesson Learned By Watching Horrific Car Crash

G'day friend...

So, there we were. My 3-year-old daughter and I had to run to the store to get some milk and juice. While waiting at the red light on a busy intersection, there's a loud series of honks and then...

BBBBRRRRRKKKRRRRAAAAAWWWWW

(I know, but that's actually what more crashes sound like)

And before us, we watch a black SUV collide with a small, white car. It looked like a 92' Ford of some sort, just in design. The paint was chipped; a pretty worn out vehicle.

Anyway, the black car actually flipped 2 or 3 times before landing on its side. It was a wreck - literally, the SUV was so beaten, it was definitely beyond repair.

I think you would have a similar result if you found something mangled by a bear.

Slowly, after a moment, the driver's seat of the white car pops open (the black and white car are less than 3 feet from each other).

Out comes a young girl, maybe in her early 20's. She stumbles a few times and looks around. From where I was, I saw this look in her eye of, "What now? What do I do? What just happened?"

And Then... The Most Amazing Thing Happened...

You may have seen this event unfold before. I am willing to bet money you witnessed the same magical thing.

Dozens of cars pulled off the road. People poured out of them, cell phones in hand, jogging towards the crash. Perfect strangers coming to another stranger's rescue.

One older man with a red winter cap on jogged towards the woman asking, "Are you OK? Are you alright?!" Then he carefully led her off the road, arm around her shoulders, to a safer spot.

Then, around six people came together and PULLED the damaged, unhinged door of the SUV and helped the passengers.

The light turned green. I just watched. My daughter asked me, "What's going on, daddy?"

So I said, "People are being helping eachother."

Now, what could I have possibly taken away from this? Better yet, what can YOU take away from this.

One powerful fact. One fact misanthropes and cynics always say is utter crap.

People Are Generally, INHERENTLY, Good!

What does this mean?

OK, a few examples:

I believe it was Trevor Crook who tells the story of a picture framing business he was hired to consult for.

He tried this tactic: send $50 checks to a list of people. It may have been past customers - I don't recall specifically.

Anyway, these were CHECKS. And those were REAL $50. And they send them to atlest 25 people. So at the very least, there were $1,250 on the line, not counting the printing and mailing costs to send these checks.

The point of the campaign was to bring people into the store and use those checks as discounts from their picture frames.

Do you know how many people cashed the checks instead of buying the frames?

Not a one. Not a single one.

Another decent example is one of John E. Powers, an ad-man of the Old Order (the first six-figure copywriter).

Let me quote Claude Hopkins to relay the story...

“A clothing concern was on the verge of bankruptcy,” says Hopkins. “They called in Powers, and he immediately measured up the situation. He said: ‘There is only one way out. Tell the truth. Tell the people that you are bankrupt and that your only way to salvation lies through large and immediate sales.’

“The clothing dealers argued that such an announcement would bring every creditor to their doors. But Powers said: ‘No matter. Either tell the truth or I quit.’

“Their next day’s ad read something like this:

We are bankrupt.

We owe $125,000 more than we can pay. This announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and buy tomorrow we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we go to the wall. These are the prices we are quoting to meet the situation.


“Truth was then such a rarity in advertising that this announcement created a sensation. People flocked by the thousands to buy, and the store was saved.”

Interesting, eh?

Of course, lots of people went because of the low prices, the savings they would have. But I am also betting there was some small iota that just wanted to help. They saw someone/something in danger, it asked them for help, and they responded.

I'm sure Powers knew this, too. There are more layers to WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) than there are onions, my friend.

The reason I am making this such a big deal is... so many people are terrified of doing little things. They don't want to guarantee, because they're afraid they'll go out of business in a day by being "taken."

Think about it. What have you not done out of fear of your customers eating your business alive?

Let me tell you this: what ever reason you're hiding behind... is most likely horse-shit. (Oh my- profanity).

Sure, there are things you should be careful about. For example, don't guarantee gutters will be in-tact for five years. Why? One hurricane or high wind blows through, rips off 100 gutters... and now what? How many do you have to replace out of your pocket? But heck, this isn't even about your customers scamming you. It's about Mother Nature kicking you in the teeth.

The truth is, you can generally depend on people to do the right thing. You can usually bet they won't do something to your business to cheat you.

Gene Schwartz once said: "...people really want to be liked. They want to be nice, they want to be happy, and they don't want to hurt others." (Read "How To Win Friends and Influence People" to see the proof).

And please, don't spit the nonsense about wars, death, rape, whatever. Those are all exceptions to the good things people do everyday.

So, keep this in mind. Take it for a spin.

And the next misanthrope you meet, just punch 'em in the teeth.

Over and out,

Angel Suarez

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