Remember back when you were seduced by your cable company? You do, don't you? You were sitting on your couch, no doubt watching the old bag, basic cable, and a temptress cleverly disguised as an innocent little commercial lulled you away, dangling delicious digital cable before your wanting eyes. If only you would call me and give me a try...I'll even let you use me for 3 months at a discounted price! That was all it took. You made the call, your wife looking on suspiciously. And for 3 months, you immersed yourself in cheap, delicious decadence together. (I'm still talking about you and digital cable.) But as is the case with most naughty relationships, time wore away the painted face of digital cable, and you began to recognize what you got yourself into-when the bill arrived in the fourth month and you discovered with horror that you were from then on betrothed to the baggage of paying over $100/month for a service that is now starting to wreak havoc on your marriage ("I want to watch DIY!" "Well I want to see -fill in this blank with the latest chick-flick title-!") and causing you to neglect your children ("Come on kids, lets all watch I, Robot!" "But Dad, this is the third time this week!" "Shut up and eat your pizza rolls!"). It's the oldest trick in the book-lure them in with low prices and when they're addicted, stick it to them!
I present this analogy on the report of a record-setting quarterly net income of $10.36 billion confessed yesterday by Exxon Mobil. Wow. We are indignant! "How can they do this?" we ask. "To me??" As if the oil companies owe us something higher, more noble than to make money off of us.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. This morning, as I was sitting tenderly in my car after shelling out $30 to fill it up, I thought to myself, "Maybe the oil and gas industry simply pulled off the most effective long-term marketing scheme ever attempted!" You see, all my life, they have teased me with gas prices that have hovered right around a dollar per gallon. Then the wars came and gas producers realized that sure enough, they had me, hook, line, and sinker. They stayed the night with me and washed their make-up off the next morning-and it was not pretty. They were indeed successful. My driving habits have not changed whatsoever. But today, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, and to the oil and gas industry I say, nice one.
On a more adult note, Seth Godin has a great post today about money and marketing. I think he and Herb Kelleher must have been conversing-Seth's 3 tips comprise the very strategy that made Southwest Airlines what it is today. After you read his blog, take one more look at The Imperative-yes, a little shameless self-promotion.
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