In the course of living what some might call “a new normal” I feel like I am in fact living in one of the most distorted eras ever, it all feels surreal. It’s good sometimes to write up things to give a clearer head space to some of the more important issues. It’s been a crazy ride either way right?
Quite recently, there is news about some people purportedly getting “deceived” by a fintech investing company. Some claimed that the reported company does not actually have the license to operate in that specific area, I won’t say much about the issues at hand since I think I’m lacking the expertise to fully judge on what happened, but it definitely interests me.
The argument at hand is that the marketing and information that this company share is deceiving a lot of people, that people are lured and not finding enough information and trust this company (seemingly does not have the right license) to handle their money. People lost their hard-earned money that they have worked so hard to get. Who would not be pissed? Darn, I would be pissed.
This reminds me of a movie called “Syrup” where the main character asks about the target market of a certain sugar drink and he said “it’s success depends on people being shallow, superficial, desperate for attention” and the other character stated “exactly, it will be like drinking irony.” And when they are pitching these products to the investors he said “If it tastes better than urine, people are literally gonna convince themselves that they like it.” What this movie implied is it does not matter what you’re selling and what it tastes like, it’s people’s perception of it is what’s important.
When I was in business school I learnt how important people’s perception towards a product is. If you see a big company — think Coca-Cola, Apple, L’Oreal, every word that you see on an ad or a billboard is cherry picked to reflect a certain image, what it sounds like, what it feels like. Every droplet count in a photograph of the sweaty can of your favorite soda drink is engineered to the right amount to peak your attention. We are thought attention is the most important thing that will lead people to purchasing your products. These companies spend billions of dollars to “make an impression” on you, my dear customers.
Some people are very skeptical and cautious that they will not fill in any application form or a survey form, or checked “allow permissions” in an app but give them a profile page in social media and gosh, they will literally tell you everything about who they are. This is the “it’s like drinking irony” part.
The content you see is probably dynamically chosen by your search history. They know who you are, what you like, what you trust and what will engage your attention and specifically show you content that will lead to what we call here nowadays, a “funnel”. A funnel is as it sounds like, starting from the first you put your attention to something which leads you to the end of goals we want. It started out from a larger pool of people to a smaller one, in between, is what we call the “journey” in which you will be fed this tailored information — everything, from the text, the action button, and color chosen in that specific message, that will hopefully lead you down more into the “funnel”.
“Selling ice cream on the beach in the summer is easy. Raising people’s expectations, engaging in their hopes and dreams, helping them see further — that’s the difficult work we signed up for.” – Seth Godin
In this case, we learned that arguably the best method to sell something is to instill “fear.” Some research showed that showing a consumer the worst case future is more effective than showing them a chance of a future success. This fear is what drives people to buy things or in this case, to put their money into the unknown (as Elsa from Frozen would sing it). For example, if you don’t use this hair product, you will go bald might be more effective than “use this product and you will have beautiful hair.”
I personally think that our sense of wanting to belong in something can sometimes decapitate our ability in making independent decisions. For example, if I want to belong in a group of people who have their future secured by doing an investment, thus by not yet making the move right now to do that, making the place I am now in feels insufferable. We give our trust so easily (I have been the victim of several scam case in my life as well, but that’s for another post) to people who seems like they got it together from the outside.
That is why we should not let others filter our decision and information for us, no matter how hard it gets. No matter how much people think you should do this and that you cannot let it control you in a way you’re not analyzing and getting the right information yourself. Then it will be like what Seth Godin said, making it to them as easy as selling ice cream on the beach in the summer. Happy 2020.