You know it’s Christmas time when two things happen…
1) People stand in line for 48 hours camped outside Best Buy for 48 hours waiting for the latest PlayStation release, or…
2) The Internet giveaway fever really heats up – More about this later.
The current PlayStation mania is an incredible lesson in marketing. But I missed the importance of what was going on until a friend smacked me in the face with it this morning…
DUMB LIKE A FOX…
Our friend — I’ll call him AJ — reported this morning that he and his wife had just come back from Wal-Mart where they’d been camping for 48 hours to get one of 4 available PlayStations 3 when they went on sale…
Unbelievable! I thought he was insane when he told us this. Who wants a PlayStation bad enough to stand in line 48 hours?
He said with a smile, “We got two!”
So! It was still 48 hours in front of a store, right? Do your kids really need PlayStations THAT badly?
“Oh, they’re not for the kids! We listed them on eBay within an hour,” he said, still smiling. “And they’re averaging 5 to 7 thousand dollars. Some have sold for more than $14,000.” Search for “PlayStation 3” on eBay. I was blown away at the prices.
I was stunned. Not because of the price (people pay extravagant prices for just about anything), nor because my “insane” friend actually made about $390 per hour if he sells them both for $7000, but because I had totally missed the entire marketing lesson expertly laid out by Sony and Wal-Mart.
The six basic marketing persuaders from Robert Cialdini’s classic book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, are in full view!
** Authority — Wal-Mart. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are the big kahuna in mega store retailing. If they advertise that they have 4 PlayStations in stock…they’ve got 4 and only 4 in stock. But they promise they can get more because…well, they can.
** Liking — People practically live at Wal-Mart. Convenience and service translate into customers with an undying loyalty to them, often because they’ve become the only game in town.
** Commitment with Consistency — Let’s see. Stand outside in November in the rain for 48 hours to be the first in line for the release of a new product. That’s serious commitment!
** Reciprocation — Wal-Mart provides a free (and massive) PS3 buyer’s guide on their site that provides all the information you need to make a decision between the $500 and $600 basic units, and all the accessories required. Giving such complete information not only sets up the authority persuader but also makes you value the content and feel indebted to the retailer. That’s called reciprocity.
** Social Proof — The press has been lapping up Sony’s press releases about the PlayStation launch date and the lack of product. And the gaming blogs can talk of nothing else.
** Scarcity — Sony is really smart! They do this every year. Release only enough of the hot product to create an insatiable appetite for it. They may have warehouses full of PlayStations, but they won’t release them until the market begs for more.
HOW DID I MISS THIS!
AJ knew — before he invested the time to stand in line –that the market was clamoring for the product. And he saw an opportunity.
He had no intention of keeping the PlayStations himself. His research on eBay confirmed that PS3 fans were rabid and would pay any price!
Like any good marketer, he remembered the first rule: Determine what the market wants and sell it to them. As Mark Hendricks, a master marketer, and creator of the Christmas season giveaways, likes to say, that’s the difference between “marketing” and “selling” — it’s much easier to make money when you’re providing a much-wanted service.
Selling something no one wants is hard work, indeed. Marketing is easy.
I should have seen it too. I’ve studied with some great internet marketers. Most teach the basic principles of Robert Cialdini’s book.
During the Christmas season, online marketers flock to the Internet to collect gifts — usually informational products and software tools. Always free, hence the name giveaway, the purpose is to drive traffic. All of Cialdini’s six persuaders are used to create the buzz, exchange the gifts for e-mail addresses and names.
The 12 Days of Christmas is the granddaddy of the online giveaway extravaganza and Mark Hendricks is the father of the concept. For several years now, Mark has brought together more than 75 top marketers to giveaway hundreds of products during the month of December.
Because the concept worked so well and has become an Internet marketing staple, a gazillion giveaways pop up. It’s now a standard tool in every marketer’s toolkit. Why does it work so well. It’s based on one of Cialdini’s persuaders — reciprocity.
I give you something and you’ll feel obligated to give me something back. It’s a technique used everywhere. When you go to the grocery, clerks stand at sample stations offering everything from cubes of cheese to portions of spaghetti and meatballs. Why? If you take a sample, chances are really good that you’ll buy the product.
But at Christmas…Whew! It’s tough to keep up and maintain enough free disk space on your computer for all the online giveaway opportunities.
The six persuaders (all included above) are real. Until I got involved in the Internet, I had no idea I was being “persuaded” at every turn. We all react to them, will forever, and have ever since the first caveman tried to sell the first hunk of meat to his neighbor.
It took a PlayStation 3 and AJ to point me back to the “real” world to see it in action there too.