I was wondering how many views I would get with a title like the one above. I think it is human nature to go against the grain on things like this. “You can’t tell me what to do. I will read it if I want to. What is it anyway?” I will be interested to see how many people click on the link to see what the heck this post is all about.
One other fascinating element of human behavior is the interest level that people tend to have for seeing others fail or get hurt somehow. You can see this principle in action on America’s highways each day. It’s called “rubbernecking”, and it is one of my single biggest pet peeves. On the off chance that you are not familiar with the term, it means slowing WAY down or stopping to take a look at a car accident or other “compelling” event on the side of the road.
Usually, rubbernecking implies that there is no reason to slow down (i.e. the lanes are completely clear ahead with no obstructions). Whenever I see traffic backed up and I am forced to sit and wait, I get impatient, especially if I suspect that there is no reason for the delay other than simple curiosity.
George Carlin had a routine years ago about this:
MAN: “Excuse me, officer, could you bring the bodies over here to the car? My wife has never seen a man disfigured in quite that manner before.”
When I am driving, I really make a conscious effort not to be the guy who slows everyone else down with my morbid interest. In fact, as I was driving to my office today, I was one of the first cars to pass a rather large truck fire. It was a pick-up truck (this is Texas, after all), and there were two guys trying to pull a large item out of the bed of the truck that was badly aflame, ostensibly so that it wouldn’t spread to the cab? I quickly weighed my options, and made a 911 call. Could I have helped them at all if I chose to stop or slow down and take a closer look? Well, since I am not Jack Bauer from “24”, probably not.
Where am I going with all of this? Well, I hear lots of media attention being given to this year’s slowdown in the housing market. Although I won’t say that all media are alike, they are generally like the rubberneckers I described above. Although the Austin market remains pretty healthy and “normal”, things are slow (or very slow) in some markets, and the media ends up making everyone wait until they have had a good, long look at the negative stuff going on. You don’t usually see them focusing on very many positive stories, do you? As a matter of fact, my wife rarely watches the news anymore (local or national) because it is just too sad and upsetting to her. Think about the lead stories that you typically see – not very uplifting stuff, is it?
Unfortunately, perception is reality, and the media will probably continue to affect the personal buying habits of our clients, so I suppose it is a bit of an uphill battle for those of us who are in this business. You have to be like a good, assertive traffic cop to keep your clients moving forward. Sorry for carrying that analogy so far. I am done with my mini-rant now.
As a brief final point, with regard to headlines, titles, and quoted statistics in general, I have always heard that marketing is made more believable if you use specific numbers, like I chose to do in these two recent posts of mine:
I think the eye is drawn to numbers in general, and really specific numbers just seem more trustworthy somehow. If I had said, “many kindred spirits” or “six-figure referral fee” above, I think the response would have been more lackluster.
Thanks for reading and your comments are welcome below!