A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


 

I was walking through the town centre the other day, when I took a quick step to the left to avoid a pile of doggie doo dahs. It caused the bloke walking behind me (who was walking just a little bit faster) to check his stride to avoid bumping into me.

As he came alongside me, he started to speak (or rather shout!)...

"Where'd you learn to walk you F****** W*****." At the same time he made a circle with his thumb and index finger and flicked his wrist up and down vigorously in my face. His expression was one of sheer hatred.

Does that shock or surprise you?
My guess is that it probably does.

Okay, let me switch the scenario a little. I was driving to work today when I swerved slightly to avoid something in the road, causing the car behind to brake. As I looked into the rear view mirror I could see the driver mouthing "You F****** W*****... where'd you learn to drive." I could see he'd made a circle with his thumb and index finger and was gesturing vigorously.

Does that shock or surprise you? My
guess is that it probably doesn't!

Now it probably won't surprise you either to learn that I made the first scenario up, but the second one (or one very like it) has happened to me and most other drivers around the world numerous times.

So what? I hear you say. Well I'll tell you in a minute, but first I want to tell you about something which really did happen to me on the way to work a few weeks ago.

I was sitting in a traffic jam. And a lorry was attempting to join the queue from the left, but it was early morning, everyone was in a rush and nobody would let him in.

Now one solution I've seen employed by lorry and bus drivers is to simply use their bulk to barge their way into the queue. But this lorry driver had a far more subtle approach... one that at first I thought was accidental and incidental to what subsequently happened, but one which I've since found to be deliberate and 100% effective.

So what did this lorry driver do to
'force' the next driver in the queue
to let him in?

He simply wound his window down! When I saw him do it, I thought it a little strange because it was below freezing outside. But sure enough, as the window came down, the very next car in the queue stopped to let him in. And here's something even more interesting...

I've tried the same thing (even in cars that
usually guarantee you won't be let in anywhere) and it
works every single time.

So what's going on here, and what's all this got to do with the first story I told you? And perhaps even more importantly, what's it all got to do with the important business of making  money? I'm glad you asked!

People behave towards other drivers in a way they would never behave towards other pedestrians, because of the barriers created by their cars. The car isolates and separates them from the human beings sitting in other cars, and acts to negate the rules and mores which usually prevail when one human being comes into direct contact with another.

A pedestrian would never be so abusive to another pedestrian who made a simple mistake (unless they were insane and wanting a good hiding) but introduce the metal barrier created by cars, and when the same two pedestrians become drivers the outcome of a comparable scenario is very different.

The simple act of winding down a car window, and removing part of the barriers between two drivers, causes the second driver to behave more in the manner of a pedestrian/human being... and that means showing courtesy and giving way to the first driver.

Broadly speaking, the more barriers there are
between two people, the more negative and less
courteous are their actions and reactions
likely to be towards each other...

And of course, the opposite is true... the fewer the barriers, the more positive and courteous the interaction is likely to be.

So when you're attempting to sell your products and services to other human beings, this information has some quite profound implications... because the more physical barriers there are between you and your customers the more difficult the job of selling anything will be.

How I've got some experience of selling things in a variety of different ways, and the hierarchy is very clear... if you approach 1000 people with your product, you will sell to more of them face to face than you will over the phone... more on the phone than you will by mail... and more by mail than you will on the internet.

As the barriers increase, and in effect the isolation
of the individual, so does the negativity and resistance...

And mirroring the pedestrian/driving relationship, so does the abuse!

The person who will listen, and then tell you politely in a face to face situation that they're "not really interested thank you very much", will be the same person who says "I'm too busy to talk to you right now!" before slamming down the phone, and the same person who scrawls 'Bollocks!" across your mailing piece before returning it in the pre-paid envelope... and exactly the same person who emails you back to say "Go F*** yourself you as*****!"

So you should always try to
sell your wares face to face then?

If only it were that simple! You see, a face to face meeting could cost you tens of pounds depending on the location and length of the meeting. A phone call can cost at least £2-£5 when time and phone charges are taken into account. But a mailshot will typically cost you less than 50p. And an email promotion... Next to nothing!

So removing the barriers is effective in increasing the positive response to your message... but it's also effective in increasing the cost of each contact you make. The decision on which barriers to remove therefore, is a complex one...

The price and nature of your product, the size of your market, the location of your audience, and the extent to which those particular people respond to the absence or imposition of any barriers will all have a part to play in determining how you approach people.

Obviously I can't give you a definitive answer for your product and market... you know your own customers far better than I ever can do and you will have to find your own mix. But my objective with this posting is to help encourage you to think about the way you communicate with your customers and potential customers, and the effect of any of the barriers that are there...

Oh, and to give you a foolproof way of
getting let out of junctions which you can now use, 

free of charge for the rest of your days.


Let me know how it goes.......



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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