If I’m, say, checking out a vintage 60s stub-neck Rickenbocker at Bobo’s Guitar Shop, and have this totally bitchin’ insight to making millions with some brilliant new marketing scheme… and I share it on my blog here… do I get to deduct the guitar?
Somebody get back to me on this, will ya?
Okay, I didn’t buy the guitar. I just held it reverently and then let the salesman pry it from my grasp. Then I got back in the cab and continued my journey toward Hell.
See, I’d had the taxi stop at the guitar shop on the way to the airport. Just to put off the pain a little longer. The hotel clerk who called the cab had regarded me with a look of “You are so screwed”, after I’d casually mentioned I was headed for Los Angeles International Hellport.
I had two and a half hours before my plane left. In the world I used to live in, that was plenty of time. Now, you need more than three hours lead-time to catch a fifty-minute flight to Reno?
The cab driver gave the same pitying look, and then shook his head sadly. Like he was taking me to the friggin’ Bridge of Sighs or something.
So I asked him to stop at a guitar store first, just so I could touch something precious before descending into the Abyss of LAX.
You think I’m being melodramatic?
LAX has officially become the nation’s worst airport for long lines and tortuous waits. The worst. Dallas-Ft. Worth, La Guardia, even the Third-World embarrassment that is Miami International all have SHORTER LINES than Los Angeles.
That must be humiliating.
I’d heard about this. Fine. I used to live near LAX, in a nice little beach cottage, and I used that airport frequently. It was always big and nasty and ungovernable, but how bad could it have gotten since I’d left the city ten years ago, really?
Answer: Really, really, really bad.
The cab driver, apparently in an effort to shave two or three minutes off the ride, ripped through red lights, weaved like a drunken sailor between lanes, and even popped up onto the sidewalk for half a block in his mad dash down La Cienega.
Slams up to the curb outside the Southwest terminal, and all the doors and the trunk fly open before I can pry my face off the seatback in front of me. I pay him, grab my bag, and stagger to the terminal.
Oh, man. Imagine emptying an English soccer stadium during a World Cup qualifier, and having everyone stand in single file. That was the line just to see an agent. The look of despair on people’s faces was wrenching.
Fortunately, being a modern kinda guy (although I’ve had in the ear before), I know how to game the system. Just pop over to the computer terminal, type in my reservation code (Apple, Yankee, Memphis, Foxtrot, y’all), grab my “skip the lines” boarding pass and…
… and the five bodies in front of me aren’t moving. On closer inspection, I see that the computer terminal is DOWN. People, dazed, are just standing there, staring at the cold blank screen.
Not me. I start prowling the area. There’s always another computer somewhere. This America, for God’s sake.
Find one, get my pass printed, and I am…
… facing a security line that goes down the length of the terminal, out the door to the sidewalk outside… and all the way into the horizon toward the next terminal.
There are four security points, with four pissed-off guards slapping people around, tossing luggage back into the x-ray machine, wanding little old ladies who look embarrassed to be standing there in their stockings getting prodded.
This line ain’t moving, either. I estimate 400 people. I time how long it takes the line to inch forward the space of one person — two minutes. That’s 2,100 minutes wait time to get through security. Two and half hours.
I’m gonna miss my plane. By an hour.
This is nuts. Suddenly, though, like an angel fluttering down to save us, an agent with a bullhorn starts accosting the line. Hard to make out what he says. I sidle up close, and ask him to lower the frigging horn and speak slowly.
Southwest, it turns out, has sent a bus over to the next terminal, a city block away. The security line there is only eight people deep, and the guards are bored. We can pop through security in a breeze, meet the bus at the first gate, and they’ll drive us back over to the Southwest terminal.
It’s an opportunity.
I’m off. A dozen other people peel out of line and follow me.
Everyone else eyes us anxiously, but doesn’t budge. Sounds too risky, I guess.
I blast through security at the far terminal, scoot down to the first gate and… there’s the bus waiting. I hop on. A breathless group of other escapees pile in behind me, the bus roars off, and suddenly… we’re all strolling down the Southwest inner terminal.
Took fifteen minutes, total. I have time to sit and eat a leisurely sandwich, read a magazine, and make a few phone calls before my plane starts boarding.
I am smug with self-satisfaction for, again, gaming the system.
Just to further my joy, I stroll back toward the security log-jam, to see how the scaredy-cats who refused to leave the line are faring. Not well. The human fence still goes outside and waaaaay down the block.
Most of them will be outside the terminal, waiting, as their plane taxis away on the tarmac.
I think about them, on the flight home. About the people in front of and behind me in that death-march line, wilting in the hot sun and exhaust fumes, the ones who refused to grab the opportunity offered by the agent with the bull horn.
From what I could see of the remaining line, there couldn’t have been all that many buses arranged for. It was like scooping a bucketful of water from a lake — they bused maybe twenty of us, max, and nearly all of us were near the end of the queue. The snake stayed long and hopeless after we’d bolted.
There are many things in life for which this is a metaphor.
It’s like that scene in the great movie “Sideways”, when it’s obvious (OBVIOUS, you friggin’ idiot!) that she wants to be kissed… and the guy stammers and frets and fiddles… and the moment passes.
The moment passes.
But more relevant, here, is the way it applies to business.
For many marketers, the entire wad of energy and persuasion and “take it or leave it” cutthroat salesmanship happens at the very front of the sales funnel.
They create, in essence, a moment for the prospect. A moment that must be grabbed… (for God’s sake, man, can’t you see how URGENT this is!?!)
And that’s it.
Allow my little story to sink in.
Most people out there are incabable of grabbing a moment. Any moment. Our entire species is wired to miss out, it seems.
That’s why movies and novels and fables where the protagonist DOES grab the moment are so inspiring.
Cuz, normally, we seldom do it.
Your prospects out there may desperately desire what you offer. The future of their happiness and the safety of their loved ones may even hang in the balance. Entire civilizations may collapse from a failure to act.
And yet, they will demure.
In most situations, most of the time, people are terrified of decisive action.
Remember this, as you gloat about your oh-so-fine results. Whatever those results are… if you’re not going BACK to your list or market (once you’ve broken the code on creating sales)… then you’re leaving a fortune on the table.
If you get 1,000 sales with a direct mail piece on the first mailing… you will get approximately half that on the next mailing (I recommend you wait 3 weeks before going out again).
This isn’t science… it’s experience. I let the euphoria of a winning piece die slowly, and then urge the client to mail the piece again. To the same list.
With no changes. (Or, at most, a bright red “Second Notice” stamp either on the envelope or at the top of the first page.)
But… but… we already hit them with the pitch! Why in the world would we need to mail again?
Because it works that way. Pull out the names of the ones who bought, and mail the cleaned list again. Just do it.
You want a reason why?
You’re giving them another chance at grasping the moment.
Carpe diem, dude.
P.S. Anyone catch the Iggy Pop reference?
P.P.S. Next post, I swear I’ll answer the questions that were posted in the comments section a few weeks ago. My bad.
P.P.P.S. The site for the revised and updated Freelance Course has been delayed, again. I am not doing this on purpose. Rather, I set aside my aversion to weird new technology and recorded important elements of the newified course on my new Olympus DM-1… and, apparently, there is a digital demon inside the one I have. It’s taken me a week to finally get reasonably decent recordings finished. And this has pushed back the launch date, again.
Seriously — probably ten days. Be patient. You will be rewarded.
Side Note: All Insiders will be able to deduct their entire club membership if they pop for the Freelance package. I’ll be sending out an email about it soon. Watch for the usual subject line from me, so you don’t delete it by accident. This is important, since it may be coming from aWeber or some other source than marketingrebel.com.
Now, go seize something.