designing ebooks and other fun things


Shocking prices! (or the easiest way to be ignored)


If I see one more ad that features a person with a face stuck in a blatantly fake expression of shock or surprise next to a headline along the lines of “Shocking prices,” I am going to SCREAM.

That’s what I was going to say. Then I realized it wasn’t true.

I do see these ads. All the time. In fact, I am so overexposed to that sort of thing that I no longer notice them. It would seem I have developed a shocking-prices-ad immunity. And I bet I am not the only one. (Scary thought, isn’t it?)

Unless I’m already actively looking for exactly the kind of product featured in the ad, chances are I won’t even notice it.

But let’s say that I am actively looking for whatever it is you are discounting. Let’s also say that I don’t know or care much about the product – from my point of view, it’s a commodity. Let’s say it’s a fairly expensive one – like car tires. (Yes, I realize that some of you could argue about the best car tire brand for hours. Me, I don’t care, as long as they allow my car to move the way I expect it to. Hence, commodity.)

This is the only scenario where your ad might actually influence my buying decision. If it’s the best offer I have seen, and if the location of the store is convenient for me. The wording or the design of the ad in this particular case, surprisingly, don’t matter much. (I know, I know. Not something you expect to hear from a designer. Though I’d still appreciate it if you avoided people with blatantly fake expression of surprise glued on their faces.)

But what happens after the sale influenced by your cut prices takes place?

Do I come back to you the next time I need tires? Unless you happen to be running a similar kind of sale again, I’d say it’s unlikely. I’ll probably just stop by whoever happens to be the closest at the time I realize I should get the tires changed.

On the other hand, if I have learned something else from you  – either before, during, or after the sale – that actually made me more involved in the kind of tires that I choose, then I am very likely to come back again.

So here’s the point: tell me something I didn’t know about your product.

Tell me why I should care.

Maybe there is a way to make my car tires last longer? Maybe it depends on how I drive, or the kinds of roads I drive on? Maybe that brand my friend swears by isn’t right for me because while she lives in the city and only ever drives the 5 blocks to work and from the store, I tend to drive a couple of hours a day, often on less-than-perfect roads? Can that be relevant? I don’t know. And I don’t care enough to research. But if you manage to find a way to connect with me, to tell me why this is the best choice for me, I’ll listen. Then I’ll test it. And if I am convinced you’re right, I’ll be back – whether you had given me that 50% discount or not.