In his autobiography, John Cooper Clarke tells of a scam one of his friends had going in Manchester in the 1960s.
He’d knock on the front door and offer to change every lightbulb in their house for £1.
That was such a good deal that lots of people took him up on it.
Then he’d knock on another door and offer to change every lightbulb in their house for £1.
Again, it was too good to resist.
The clever part was, he never had to buy any lightbulbs.
He just used the lightbulbs from the previous house each time.
As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t actually breaking the law, he wasn’t telling lies.
He didn’t say they’d get new lightbulbs, he just said he’d change their lightbulbs.
But he understood how people’s minds work, they’re not as complicated as we think.
“£1 to change all your lightbulbs?” and the mind supplies the word ‘new’ without it even being said.
Understanding the mind is just common sense.
For instance: you can’t concentrate on two things at once, even footballers know that.
Uruguayan defender, Jose Maria Giminez, used it against Columbian forward Radamel Falcao in the World Cup.
Falcao later said: “I couldn’t concentrate as Giminez was driving me crazy. Asking me questions. First he asked me what car I had.
When I was explaining it, he had already gone and was waiting to meet a cross.
That was only the start. Then he asked me why the flags of Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela have the same colours.
Next he came over to me and told me it was his debut, that he would get a tattoo of the date of this match, asking me if September was spelled with or without a ‘p’.
I ended up missing the chance to jump for a cross. He drove me crazy.”
Uruguay beat Colombia in that game because Giminez knew how the human mind works.
It’s very simple: one thing at a time.
And yet we persist in making it as difficult as possible, perhaps because we think that’s our job.
I’ve just read a very good article, by Tom Roach, on the persistence of the funnel in marketing.
How the marketing funnel was first introduced in 1924, by William Townsend, and has endured via changes in terminology and technology ever since.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, because it isn’t marketing that works like funnel, it’s the human mind, and we can make that as simple or as complicated as we like.
The mind starts with a bigger problem and funnels it down to a smaller one.
The world is a plethora of stimulation, overwhelming the mind like a tsunami.
The mind quickly funnels this down to something it can handle.
This is called basic Gestalt.
Basically: filter it out, funnel it down.
Expressed as: Form follows Function. The End Justifies the Means. Strategy before tactics.
If you’re in the creative dept our job is very simple (not easy, but simple).
£20 billion is spent on advertising in the UK each year, 4% is remembered positively, 7% remembered negatively, 89% not noticed or remembered.
So the first part of the funnel must be to get noticed, so you’re not in the 89%.
Once you’re noticed (Impact) you make sure you’re understood (Communication).
That’s as far as the creative dept takes you, next is the marketing message (Persuasion).
However complicated marketing would like to make their funnel, our funnel is VERY simple.
Impact. Communication. Persuasion.
Or, as Bill Bernbach said: “If no one notices your advertising, everything else is academic”.