Recently Crabby Old Lady was catching up with David Wolfe’s Ageless Marketing blog. It’s not that she cares much about the techniques and practices used by Madison Avenue to part Crabby from her money. Most of the time advertising’s attempts at emotional manipulation are so clumsily obvious and off-key as to be laughable.
An extreme example currently running on television is a black-and-white commercial in which a man and woman come as close to having full-blown sex onscreen as Crabby has ever seen during the family hour. And what’s the product? Car tires - although Crabby can’t remember the brand name - and she laughs out loud every time at the incongruity of sexual rapture over wheels.
But David’s blog is worth Crabby's time because he sometimes reports on research about older people’s behavior, psychology and thought processes and he lobbies, bless his heart, for more realistic advertising communication.
Still, Crabby thinks these folks, who devote vast amounts of time and resources to trying to figure out what kind of marketing will best induce people to pay inflated prices for both useful and useless products, miss the mark.
One example: For years – yes, several years – Crabby fairly regularly thinks about buying the Bose noise-canceling headphones. Crabby has about 8,000 mp3 files on her computer. She likes the “surround-sound” a headset provides, but the cheap set she owns is uncomfortable on her ears and doesn’t envelop her in the music quite the way she would like.
Friends who know about such things tell her that Bose probably makes the best-quality headphones, or close enough. The company ubiquitously buys full-page advertisements in magazines; Crabby runs across them at least once a week. And unlike most ads for most other products, these explain in detail what they do.
This is a product Crabby wants to own and she’s even willing to overlook the fact that they spell canceling wrong in the product name, as cancelling. But she still has not bought it.
Why? It’s simple: there is no price listed.
What there is instead, is an 800 number, but Crabby has never telephoned because there is no way she will make herself captive to a sales pitch for one little piece of information.
So how dumb is it to leave off the price?
Bose isn’t alone in this practice. Many times, Crabby has sought out a product she read about in an ad only to be struck silly by sticker shock in the store. She might have paid the outrageous price if she’d had time to get used to it for awhile before being confronted with the actual purchase. But when Crabby’s head is reeling while the sales person impatiently taps his fingers on the counter, she ain’t payin'. And a sale is lost.
For about a year now, David Wolfe has been deconstructing marketing techniques, particularly those targeting older people, and often doing it quite interestingly. But Crabby thinks it’s a lot easier than Madison Avenue makes it out to be:
- Tell her what the product does.
- Show her a picture.
- Make the copy and images relevant to the product.
- Throw in some emotional manipulation if it justifies the expensive research; Crabby can see through it anyway.
- TELL HER THE PRICE.
It’s that simple.