Or...banking on the fact that: "People can never get enough of what they don't really need."
For years I owned a marketing firm. Still dabble in it. In fact...I teach it at the university level.
During my firm's early years I had a partner who had worked for a well-known national magazine. He was the publisher of special guides that would come out during the year focusing on different categories of products. Cars, electronics, clothes, etc. would be the highlighted in all their beauty. I remember him saying that they would be lighted and displayed in such a way as to make them "sensual."
Yes...sex (and anything else that gratifies the senses) sells, even when that sensuality is transmitted through things. Mind you, I'm not talking about some beautiful being standing next to an automobile or holding a bottle of wine...I'm speaking about the things themselves.The textures, colors, designs, and other facets that go into the manufacturing of an item are often more important than it's function or reliability. And - the lighting and positioning of that product when it's photographed do as much to make them desirable as their design.
People are easily seduced...very easily seduced. Most consumers buy first with their eyes, then...secondly, with their minds. How does one avoid the trap of the "sensual seduction of things?" Initially, one has to realize that it exists. Next, I would suggest asking the question, "Do I really need this?" The answer is probably "No!" Then...comes the "want factor." Ah...the naughtiness of it all. Marketers depend on that. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But - I'm certainly not saying it's a good things either. The job of the marketers is to get you to buy what, quite often, you really don't need. I regularly add to that statement: "With money you don't really have."
Motorcycles, cars, clothes, shoes, electronic devices, food, as well as just about every other area of "Thingdom," is made to make you want to salivate, desire, caress, "love," and possess them. They are our substitutes for the real thing...other people.
As I teach, write, train, discuss, and guide people in their pursuit of building their businesses and selling their products, I am not ignorant to the fact that, if people truly love other people and have a wonderful relationship with their friends and loved one...the need for things often diminishes. But - I also know that we are beings who also love to create as well. So - balance, it seems, is the key. Work towards achieving entrepreneurial Nirvana, while making sure to remember that people are always more important than things. That - should help make for a totally "sense-ual" existence!
It's been about a month since my last blog post. That's very unlike me. But...connectivity problems and computer glitches have created a situation that made it difficult to write on this site. Hopefully, that's over for now. However, I wonder how much of those troubles were related to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath?
Which brings me to the topic of this post. Over the past six weeks I've had some automotive problems as well. While my car was in the shop, I rented cars. When I checked my bills I noticed that there was a stark pricing difference during one particular week. My charges were about 60% higher than during any other week. Upon inquiring I was told that it was because of Hurricane Sandy. I was startled...to say the least. Then I questioned the saleperson, "Shouldn't prices be lower when people are in need? Isn't it the compassionate thing to do in order to help people out during tough times?"
Of course, in our system of free enterprise, these price hikes are not unusal. When I posted my situation on a facebook page, someone else mentioned that the roofers were (rightly, in his opinion) charging higher prices to those folks who were affected by the storm as well. I find the whole thing distasteful.
We live in a paradox. Our value system instructs us to help the needy, while our economic system leads us to take advantage of them. I did some further investigation and found that the Governor of New Jersey had to render an edict against price gouging. That's says a lot about our morals - when the government has to stop businesspeople from taking customers "for a ride."
What has happened to treating people fairly and with compassion? If you study our financial system you'll also see that credit card companies charge people who have bad or questionable credit higher rates than those who have good or excellent credit. It creates a "catch 22." How can a person improve his or her credit when he or she is being "legally price gouged" with exorbitant interest rates and fees? When I was a kid they used to call those types of interest rates "loan sharking."
Can our economic system ever be fair? I doubt it, but...it's possible. What we all need to do, as consumers,
businesspeople, and leaders, is to teach fairness, compassion, and kindness. Of course, businesses must make a profit. But they can do so without taking advantage of their customers and employees. For that to happen, I believe that we need to adjust our societal moral compass. It only takes the realization that when a business treats people right, they create good will, positive "word of month" advertising, a lot more customers, and...loyalty. It works every time!
We live in a world of comparisons. Each of us is compared to someone else when it comes to our intellect, physical appearance, profession, lifestyle, hobbies, likes and dislikes, religion (or lack thereof), political stance, and the material goods we possess. I guess that's called selection. Yet, our culture has taken it to new levels. Marketing thrives on making us feel insecure, imperfect, and never good enough until we buy the product or service they're peddling.
I teach marketing (as well as a number of other business subjects - including; ethics and leadership) and start each semester by explaining the rudiments of marketing as I see it: "Getting people to buy what they really don't need, with money they really don't have." Explaining that, to me, sets the course on a realistic path. Knowing that, may help students see things from a broader perspective and, hopefully, add some insights into why this system persists and how to make a difference within it or change it.
Yes...there are some excellent companies that don't exploit the vision of sucking every dime out of consumers pockets, making them feel like a "lesser person" and actually providing the populace with things they really need at a fair price, without taking advantage of their own workers in the process. The trick is to get more of them into our society.
But, of course, there's that thing about imperfection that most companies use to haunt us. You're not attractive enough unless you buy this car, those pants, that electronic device, these makeup products, hair coloring items, teeth whiteners, or that dress. How could you possibly land the woman or man of your dreams with a body like that? Eat this food, drink this drink, take this pill, join this gym, buy this equipment, and you'll find the love of your life in no time flat!
Let's be honest folks...making people feel like they're insecure and imperfect is what, quite often, makes consumers buy the things they really don't need.
Once you realize that you're actually perfect in your "imperfection," you become teflonesque (not letting marketing and advertising stick to your thought processes). Yes...I know - you must be wondering how I can say these things when I teach it and owned a marketing, advertising, public relations, and management company for almost 15 years. Well, I can, because I know it for a fact. That's what it's all about.
So recognize that in your imperfection, you're perfect...period. Yea...you may wanna slim down (you can always do that by doing pushaways and exercising at home on a regular basis), or buy something that makes you feel good (a book, some music, some new clothes, fine wine, and/or healthy food), but do it through getting other people's thoughts on the items (ok, maybe some occasional advertisements may pique your interest, be informational and useful too).
Once you accept yourself for who you are...marketing, as we know it, becomes the reality that you're being led, used, and manipulated. And - when you know that in your heart, it's very tough for anyone to sell you what you don't need, with money you don't have.
So...think about it. Try being a "non-stick" human. It really can give you a feeling of freedom and a new degree of contentment.