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

In the good old days of real entertainment, music hall comedians would regularly launch into their first joke or sketch with “A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theatre tonight.” It was all nonsense of course, just a way to get the show going. But a funny thing really did happen to me on the way to the theatre (well cinema)the other week, and any modern day comedian witnessing it would have had his first 10 minutes worth of material readily laid out on a plate for him.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was with wife and child on our way to the cinema where we were to embark in a couple hours worth of viewing the movie Lucy. Our route took us down a wide road which weaved through a sort of housing estate and past the Hyperdome shopping arcade thingy just off the motorway at junction 28. 

Anyway as we approached our destination, I saw a man in his later years, walking slowly across the road towards us – apparently deep in thought about things more ethereal. And as we got closer and I realised he was a vicar/priest/pastor/man of the cloth and for a brief moment I wondered what God bothering duty he was about to perform and perhaps much more to the point, where he was going to do it? The thought didn’t last for long though.

That was because a metallic green hatchback was coming at him from the other direction. The vicar was oblivious to its presence, and the car had to slow right down as he continued his leisurely crossing of the road. The driver was clearly infuriated by the delay caused and blasted on his horn to the vicar as he passed. We weren’t in the least bit prepared for what happened next. The clergyman spun around, made a familiar Churchillian hand gesture and yelled “F*** OFF!” at the stunned motorist before proceeding on his way.

“Did he just say what I think he said?” asked the daughter.

“Yep.” I replied.

“And he was a vicar?” added the wife.

“Unless he was on his way to a fancy dress party!” was my answer.

We all dissolved in laughter at the incongruous turn of events. It appears Father Jack (of Father Ted fame) is apparently still alive and well and living in Loganholme of all places. Who would have guessed?

What we were witnessing of course, was a quick peek beneath the veneer that he presents of himself to the outside world. I’m sure the 'vicar' wouldn’t normally talk to people like that, but the combination of being startled by the car horn and a surge of anger caused his spiritual ‘mask’ to slip and offer us a quick glimpse at what lay beneath.

We’re all like this of course. We present ourselves with an image in line with how we’d like the world to perceive us, but the reality can often be very different. Most of us don’t want the world to view us in a negative way – say as unsophisticated, uncouth, greedy, lazy or self centred individuals… or with a strong interest in some of the more base pleasures in life. And so we apply a veneer that is more refined, cerebral and sophisticated in both taste and action, than is our underlying pre-disposition. The monster within only makes an appearance when we’re under pressure or stress, when alcohol or drugs remove our inhibitions a little, or when we think nobody is looking!

But that monster is instrumental in most of the decisions we make, and he’s certainly making his opinions well and truly heard when we’re considering whether we will buy a particular product or service.

A great deal of marketing fails to hit the spot because it’s aimed at the prospect with the veneer still firmly in place. Over the years I’ve spoken to dozens of people about their marketing and have often had cause to criticise it for being too safe, too boring and too corporate. The reaction is nearly always the same… ”But our customers are sophisticated/serious/refined people. They wouldn’t like anything too extreme.” In my experience, this is nonsense. They all have a monster lurking within, and he’s the one holding the purse strings. He makes decisions based on strong emotions, and you don’t light a fire under those by being too safe or corporate.

If you’re reading this it’s safe to assume that you’re familiar with my company’s services and the way that they’re marketed (Not the tamest methods in the world, see www.facebook.com/localadserv ).

So who do you think would respond to an advertisement that says, “The information the police don’t want you drivers to have’ and then goes on to sell a book about avoiding speeding tickets in the UK. Teenage boy racers in baseball caps, perhaps?

Well I questioned the author who took a little look at his database of buyers and here are a few interesting highlights he gave me:

- There are 34 men of the cloth (and they’re just the ones using their titles!)

- There are 51 knights of the Realm

- There are 26 Lords and Ladies

Plus at least a dozen household names from film, music, politics and TV that he happened to notice when their orders came in.

Now of course, I don’t know anything about the other people who bought from him, but it’s safe to assume that a great many of them are far removed from what you might expect, and far too refined/serious/sophisticated to respond to the sort of advertising and promotion I would personally favour. Except, of course, they all too often do respond.

So if for some reason you’re not getting the results you want from your advertising and marketing, it could be because you’re trying to sell to what you see rather than what you get. And what you get is often a lot more base and ‘earthy’ in its behaviours, needs, wants and motivations than it would like you to believe.

In other words, you need to sell to the vicar out on the street, the one sticking two fingers in the air while ‘effing and jeffing’ at wayward motorists, not the one standing in his pulpit.

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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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