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Friday, 17 June 2011

Sold out - and a mystery that never fails to astonish: the paradox of the clueless

I was going to write again about the appalling Berlusconi, because my last piece only gave a faint idea of what a shameless crook he is, but it's hard work trying to explain the complexities of politics, mafioso style.

However, the chance to explain why everyone in Italy has had the pleasure of hearing the man running Italy called a piece of shit by one of the ladies who was procuring his hookers - and not once but several times on the most popular TV show in the country - is too good to miss, so I hope to return to that.

At a loss as to what to write I have meanwhile - with commendable restraint - quelled my urge to keep bombarding folk with compelling reasons why they should be savouring every syllable at my copy seminar next Monday, as it seems pretty well sold out - assuming we can agree with each other on the numbers.

So at a loss for something to do, my partner Al and I whacked out an email this morning to find a handful of business partners for something he has been quietly perfecting behind my back.

The results were predictable.

By predictable, I mean that those who need least help are always most likely to reply; and those who need it most show no interest whatsoever. It's a phenomenon I have noticed repeatedly over the half century I've been in marketing. I guess it's one reason why the rich get rich and vice versa.

The key to success in marketing , as in all else in life, is to know how well or badly you're doing, and which respects. Without this knowledge you cannot possibly know what to change and the results of such changes.

The great blessing of the internet, from a marketing perspective, is that you can very quickly see in far greater detail than was possible previously what happens and often why.

The results can be startling. Al once suggested to a client that he move 8 words from the beginning of a questionnaire to the end. By so doing, the orders went up from 2.7% to 4.2%. Within four years that client sold the business for the high tens of millions.

But most of the people we talk to have no idea of their numbers. They are like people driving blindfold in the middle of a wet night on the wrong side of the road with blindfolds on.

Predictably, almost the first person to reply to our email today was a man who knows his numbers back to front. And as a rather sad postscript we have just given up on a man who, despite part of his business losing money hand over fist not only has no clue about his numbers, and no intention, as far as I can see, of doing anything about it.

The paradox of the clueless!

By the way, this is not a devious pitch to get you to ask what Al's up to. We got plenty of replies in the first hour after sending out the email.

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