Human Nature and Your Marketing Mindset

Something kind of bad happened to me a few weeks ago which is sapping my energy, making me bitter, and interfering with my normal content-gifting mindset.

I’m wondering how you’d all go about restoring a positive outlook if it were you?

In early December I went for a winter hike up a mountain stream to my favorite icy waterfall. Winter is my favorite season up here in New Hampshire… the snow, the ice, the majestic mountain views with precious few people to clutter them up… it’s nothing short of astounding.

You see, once you know how to dress for the cold, it’s actually rather comfortable and cozy. And the cold mountain air is extremely invigorating.

Despite this, we occasionally find a frozen tourist on the trails thawing out in the spring after the frost lifts (seriously)… winter hiking is NOT something to be taken casually.

Anyway, I was on the trail wearing crampons (kind of like ice picks that stick out of your boots so you can walk on a sheer sheet of ice and granite without killing yourself) carrying my special hiking poles with ice piercing super-grip tips, just loving the breathtaking scenery… a series of almost frozen cascades surrounded by hills on all sides on the way up to my 80 foot waterfall, where I planned to sit for an hour or so just to clear my head.

Then I happened across a couple of tourists walking in sneakers, entirely under-dressed, trying to cross an almost frozen stream with absolutely no equipment. They were asking all about the trail, where the waterfalls were, etc.

I explained to them the waterfalls started just up ahead, but they were going to have a very hard time crossing the streams and I was concerned for their safety. They were quite insistent on crossing anyway, so I crossed the river first with my equipment, and then THREW my favorite hiking poles back across the river to them so they’d have a better chance of making it without getting a concussion (or worse).

Anyway, they made it across, at which point I realized that I was planning on hiking further ahead than they were, which would leave them without the poles to get back.  So without thinking too much about it I simply insisted they take my poles, and asked if they’d just leave them by my car in the parking lot. (It was only one of 3 cars in a very big and desolate lot)

It seemed like the only humane thing to do, even though it took me years to find this particular pair of hiking poles which I’ve grown very attached to (they’ve carried me over many a 5,000 foot mountain top). And I was perfectly capable of doing this particular hike with just the crampons and no poles, but they were NOT capable of safely crossing the stream without poles.

So they agreed, and took my business card in case they couldn’t find my car. (Yes, I found I WAS carrying a business card on the mountain, don’t ask me why)

Anyway, long story short, there were NO poles leaning against my car when I returned to the lot, which could mean only one of four things:

1) They both wandered off the trail and froze to death out of my line of sight when I returned. I think this is very unlikely given they seemed very interested in staying ON the trail and there’s not much reason to wander off this particular path since all the scenery is right on it.

2) They DID leave the poles on my car, but someone else came by and stole them while they were leaning there unattended. I think this too is very unlikely given that so few people ever drive through that particular lot on such a cold winter day, and my car was at the very far end. (If they had intended to leave them for me, they would have easily known to put them on the blind-side so even if someone did drive in, they wouldn’t have seen them)

3) They decided they preferred to mail them back to me at my business address on the card. (But I haven’t received anything in 3 weeks, and you’d think they would have telephoned to let me know)

4) They were abducted by aliens who took them to Tunisia and forced them to take hallucinogenics and worship the African Sun God.

5) They said “Hey, this guy doesn’t know who we are and this is a nice set of expensive hiking poles… let’s keep’m!”

Unfortunately, as much as I’d LIKE to believe it was one of the first 4, I really think it’s #5.

Now, I’ve never been a fool about human nature. I know that the majority of people are driven by base instincts, that society is an evolutionary experiment, and that most of you are probably thinking “Well, Glenn, what did you expect?”

I made a conscious decision a long time ago to be a giving person regardless… and to make giving its own reward.

Still, I might have saved this couple’s life, and they repaid me by steeling my favorite sticks! I mean, I know it’s the Holidays and all, but man, they really were my favorites… C’mon!

From a marketing context, this is actually an important story. Because the more competitive the internet becomes, the more you’ve got to be willing to pour your heart and soul into providing value for your market, often for long periods of time before you start reaping the rewards. And sometimes there are NO rewards, just the giving itself.

More and more, AdWords advertisers are willing to go negative on the first sale in order to acquire the customer, and sometimes even the opt in. (By definition you DO have to go at least somewhat negative and give before you receive if your first goal is to acquire an opt in, because you subordinate the sale to establishing the relationship)

So I think it’s important we all keep on the lookout for feelings of bitterness and negativity regarding our uncompensated gifts.

Therefore, I suppose I answered this one myself by writing this post, and I don’t have any choice but to go on giving, but is it so awful that I’m hoping to find them thawed out on the trail this spring?

Have a Wonderful Holiday,

Dr. G 🙂

PS – What do you think? How would you handle it? I’d really like to know! (Leave me your comments please)

PPS – After writing this post, I ditched my computer and hit the road to get back to the icy waterfall.  Took a picture this time, which definitely doesn’t do it justice (really, it’s 80 feet tall and you feel kind of puny sitting at the bottom), but I thought you might like to see anyway:

And here’s a fairly poorly shot video: