Useless messages by marketers like me
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I’m in Detroit giving a talk for PBwiki today.
I’m at the airport right now and I keep hearing this message repeated over and over:
“Attention passengers: The Transportation Security Administration has limited the the items able to be carried through the security screening process. Please check with your air carrier for further information.”
On the 34th time this message was played, I actually listened to it. It struck me how absurd it was: This message is basically telling me, “You can’t do something. To find out what we’re not allowing you to do, go out of your way to ask your airline carrier for details.”
What can’t I carry? What is an air carrier, anyway? Who do I talk to? And why would I go out of my way to find out what I can’t do?
I’d rather take my chances at the security check.
I’m willing to bet you that over the last month, this message resulted in exactly 0 people inquiring about what they can’t take on board. What a waste.
I also bet that some misguided marketer wrote this announcement that as a way to cover his ass: “We told them to check with their airline carrier!” Technically true. But if you spend $10,000 to implement something and it results in 0 responses, you’ve failed.
I could message people all day at PBwiki. Did you know you can create a new page! What about a sidebar? How about exploring our Premium options? Sometimes I want to, and sometimes I experiment with it, but not very often. There’s something very special about leaving people alone unless it’s really important.
How many useless messages do you hear today? Ones that don’t give you actionable intelligence, but just create noise? This is why I read so few personal-finance magazines. I don’t need to know about the latest change in the Emigrant Direct rate or the 10 best stocks to buy. I’d rather seek out two good books than have 78 RSS feeds. In the best case, it’s just noise. In the worst, it’s bad information or information that just encourages me to debate minutiae, not really get anything done.
Just because something is there doesn’t make it important. Often, it’s quite the opposite.
As I finish typing this, another message is now coming over the loudspeaker:
“Attention: Unauthorized limousine solicitation is prohibited in the airport. If you are approached by an unauthorized limousine representative, please report it immediately to an airport police officer.”
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