In 1985 I was 21 years old and just about to graduate from Stony Brook University. Sharon and I were already good friends – we were both attending my father’s psychotherapy training center (CPCA – “The Center for Psychotherapy as a Creative Art”).
Sometimes the training meetings were in the official offices on 11th street in NYC (“The Village”), and other times we met in my Dad’s living room.
In any case, during one of the events at home Sharon happened to come early to find my father eating his breakfast. No sooner did she sit down at the table with him than she noticed, to her incredible dismay, that the little black dots in my Dad’s oatmeal were moving.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! MARTY!!! You’re eating bugs!!!” – she screamed.
“No I’m not!” my Dad said. Those are the raisins.
“NO! MARTY!!! THEY ARE BUGS!!!!!!! THEY ARE *$#&%*$# BUGS!!!” she retorted with disgust.
Well, my Dad put on his glasses, looked down at his oatmeal and said “Hmmmmmmmmm. I guess they are. Tasty ones too” (Dad has always had a sense of humor! Thankfully he did stop eating them though.)
So what’s the marketing lesson?
Human psychology and desire are overwhelmingly powerful. When we’re too close to a situation, we tend to see what we WANT to see, hear what we WANT to hear, taste what we WANT to taste, and smell what we WANT to smell.
My father isn’t a stupid person. Quite to the contrary, he’s not only got a Ph.D. and a very
successful practice in New York City… he’s run an entire department at the Post Graduate
Center, published several books, and supervised dozens of other successful therapists…
Yet, LIKE ALL OF US, when he really wanted to experience a certain thing he crafted his
perception to match. My Dad was working really hard that day… he had a lot of things
on his schedule. He didn’t want to throw out the oatmeal, go to the store, buy another
box, etc. That would be WAY too painful, if he could even make time to do it. No, Dad
really wanted some oatmeal with raisins, and his mind showed him what he wanted to see.
It happens to the best of us. But it’s particularly dangerous for marketers.
One of the biggest problems with developing a marketing mind is that reality is often
too painful for you to see clearly when you apply it to your own stuff. For example,
it’s not uncommon for the real solution to a marketing problem to be radically changing
the offer. This can involve creating an entirely new product. Or you may need to reduce
your margins considerably on what you THOUGHT was going to be your profit center…
but really, given the state of the market you need to use it as a loss-leader. Or perhaps
you need to change your USP and you’ve now got to go through a thousand web pages,
dozens of follow up messages, and a graphic redesign.
Ugh! That’s WAY too painful. So what do most of us do?
We decide bugs taste like raisins, that’s what we do!
We leave our campaigns the way they are, settling for MUCH lower bottom line
profit than we need to…
Or we might give up on a project entirely when in reality we were just a few
changes away from an incredibly successful business.
What’s the solution?
No matter how good a marketing eye you have yourself, you need an outside
perspective. But NOT from just anyone. Too many people accept marketing
advice from whomever vomits it up in a forum, or is willing to look at the
No, you need to get advice from people who can answer ONE CRITICAL QUESTION in the affirmative “Have you personally profited more than one million dollars from direct response advertising in which you risked your own money” (Not newbies, or people who are
constantly “talking theory” and THINK they know how to improve your site)
There ARE a few people out there like that.
I happen to be one of them.
Maybe I can be your personal Web Sales Hero?
See you there, OK?
The Very Good Dr. Glenn 🙂