Monday, 8 April 2013

Fall for it at your peril.

I've just got a bit sidetracked. I had an idea for a post, quite a serious subject, then I started to look for some bits and bobs to add to the words, to jazz it up a bit, and to get the message across. I am now rolling about laughing at the stuff I have found on yootoob. Oh my, I must try and concentrate more. Anyway, I'll try and get back to the original idea so here goes.

Topic for today......How gullible are you when it comes to believing everything you hear, or see, or read about? Can you spot a trickster a mile off? I'm talking about advertising here, not just the written and the spoken word, but also recognising the body language of the person trying to sell their products. Some of the signs are so very obvious, by their desperation to make a sale, but some of them are hidden and the story is so convincing that you end up believing in their patter and cave in. One of the reasons I am not in debt is that I don't believe what I read, or what people tell me. First of all watch this video, and memorise Victor Meldrew's words.

Then watch this funny video of how he winds a sales person up, and make a few notes on how to get rid of them. He's hilarious.

Advertising takes many forms, the obvious ones are easy to spot, the leaflets through the door, the adverts on the tele between programmes, the posters stuck on billboards, and the supposedly special offers shouting out for us to come on into the shop and spend, spend, spend. Dealing with these is a piece of cake. Bin the leaflets, make a cup of tea or feed the cat while the adverts are on, ignore the billboards, and walk straight past the shops without stepping over the threshold.

When I go to town to buy something, I know what I want. I don't have a list it's in my head. If there's one thing I hate it's a sales person who approaches me the minute I walk through the door. All smiles, asking me if they can help. My immediate answer is, 'no thanks I'm looking', that's if I don't march straight back out again. If I want help I will ask for it. They are not offering because they are nice people, they are asking because they want to make a sale. They are turning on the charm because that's what they do. They are not your friend, it's their job to appear friendly, in the hope that they can talk you into opening your purse and handing over your dosh. More importantly they also want you to visit the shop over and over again. They need to build a relationship with their customers so that they still have a job a year later.

The same rule applies whether it's a sales person in a shop, a lady who delivers the Avon catalogues, a salesman in a car showroom, a utility company that you buy gas from, a garage that services your car, a hairdresser that pampers you, the sellers at a car boot sale, a market trader, the pub landlord, in fact anybody that you buy from has a vested interest in being nice to you.

I need to invest in a new set of saucepans, because mine are in a terrible state. Hardly surprising given that they have served me well for the last 30 plus years. They are a well known brand name, no need to advertise, so I want the replacements to be just as good. I plan on living another 30 years, ha ha. So now I have to do some research. I will not step into a shop and buy willynilly off the shelf, thanks to the internet I can price them up before I get to the final stage of actually buying them. There will be no smiley sales person telling me what I need, no, I know what I need.

In my last house I needed new windows and front door. I checked prices, and knew how much I wanted to pay. I let the salesman go through his patter, he smiled a lot, was polite, said all the right things, he put everything he learnt in his training into practice. After watching him fidget a little I knew he was getting towards the end of his time and he was going in for the kill. Unlike Victor Meldrew above, I signed to accept the deal. I could have let him go an hour before, but I was enjoying watching him work hard.

I am now a customer, but I have also been on the other side of the fence as a sales person. I started my working life in shops, how things have changed. I remember Woolies in the sixties being chocabloc full of customers. It was heaving on a Saturday, customers queueing several deep to make a purchase. Now Woolies have gone because there are so very few customers, and every shop is fighting for their share. We didn't have to be nice and smiley, in fact I was sometimes a grumpy sales assistant because customers interrupted what I really wanted to do, and that was to restock the counters.

When I had my own small business of selling giftware at markets and shows, I had to turn on the charm. I used to go to a lot of cat shows, there was always the same people there, I had to work hard to build up a relationship with my customers. Watching sales people is interesting, the best ones don't harrass, dont pester, and don't bully, they tread carefully and take their time. They hover, they walk away, they come back, they smile, they talk about anything except the item they are selling. They watch your reaction, and they read your body language. They know when to back off, and they know the exact moment when you are on the verge of buying. Here's a little video to illustrate, with an advert at the end, ha ha.

When advertising is in your face, it's easy to deal with, as I said above, all you have to do is ignore it, which is where your will power comes in. But there are other ways of advertising which aren't so obvious. Take a look at this video which will give you an idea of how it works.

There are ways of hiding adverts, to disguise them, even to the point where they are hard to spot. The same sales techniques that are used face to face, can also be used in the printed word, the only difference being that you cannot see the persons body language. Writing sales material is a very skilled job, the smiley assistant in the shop can be eloquently transformed into text. Companies spend billions on crafting the exact words which will produce sales. They want to reel you in, not only through the front door, but the back door as well. Look around you, can you spot this back door advertising? You will find it in the most unlikely of places.

This kind of advertising relies heavily on building relationships.You are lulled into a false sense of security, you are made to feel comfortable, and you feel like you fit in. Just because it is written by someone down the road, or in another continent, does not make any difference. The internet is global, anyone can sell to anyone. We have all heard of the scam emails asking you to deposit an amount of money into a foreign bank account with the promise of a massive return. Hopefully we all know to dump these advertisements straight away. What we need to do now is look even deeper to spot the hidden adverts, because it's only by being vigilant and keeping our guard up that we will not be taken for a ride. The term, 'wolf in sheeps clothing' comes to mind, and describes the advertising trend exactly.

The only time you should be spending your hard earned money is when it is you who have instigated the purchase. Keep to that rule and any mistakes will be entirely your own doing. Savvy up on advertising.
I've rambled on long enough.
Toodle pip


  1. I object to your attitude! Having worked in shops for MANY years, (along with teaching school, being a nanny, and caring for horses...), I have ALWAYS greeted people coming in the shop with a smile and a good morning/ is just nice to make people feel comfortable and welcome, whether they spend or not. I have answered many questions and given free advice/directions to people who did not spend. The last woman I worked for would push for sales, but I think if someone wants to buy, they are more inclined to come to a place where there is friendly, non intimidating sales..last week I was in a toy shop. The miserable woman in there sat behind the counter reading a newspaper.No greeting, comments or smile the ENTIRE time we were in there...I would not have bought anything from her if she priced it for free...just a thought. Next time someone greets you, just smile back and say"just looking, thanks!"......

    1. Hi lynda. So, it's nice to make people feel comfortable whether they spend or not, is it. How long can a shop go on trading if no money crosses the counter? If everyone comes in for free advice and walks out again, not very long. Sales assistants have to be nice to get the sales, because if they don't smile people won't spend, as you illustrated with the miserable woman in the toy shop.

    2. If you came to my house, I would welcome you the same way..just as I greeted my students each day! Just want people to feel comfortable , and I truly meant it when I asked if I could help you!

    3. Ps I am not a "shopper" usual clothes are trainers, jeans and a cotton t shirt that I wear allnday, out in the barn or with the dogs! But I do appreciate it if someone greets me when I shop..I feel like I have made contact with someone and would be likely to ask them to help me....

  2. Sales people do my head in especially the door to door sales men and they always seem to call when we are having our dinner. Despite having a sign on the door saying "no cold callers please" they still take it upon themselves to disturb us at dinner time. I just open the door point to the sign say no thank you and shut the door straight away. It may seem a little rude but so is disturbing our dinner when there is a blatant sign on the door telling them we are not interested.
    Claire xx xx xx

  3. I often wear old clothes and don't dress up when I am going shopping. I can find those shops who judge people by how they look and avoid those shops or salespeople. A friendly smile and not hovering goes a long way.

    There is nothing quite as offputting as having a salesperson yack yack yack and follow you all over the store. I think one woman was lonely but it kept me from considering any purchases. Another shop owner did nothing but complain loudly to anyone in the shop and it caused me to turn around leave and never return. Both of these shops were nice independent stores who needed desperately to develop a client base but neither shop owner knew how to do it.

    But I do remember the lovely fast food restaurant where 4 people said hello and welcome, they brought the food to the table rather than having us stand there and they clearly said what choices could be put on the sandwich rather than having it made ahead. Food was great too. I would pay a little extra without complaint.

    And I can tell where the big stores make customer service a priority. In one store, every employee I passed made sure I was helped and asked if I had any questions. It was kind of funny after awhile but I knew who to ask if I had a question. Try doing that at some of the department stores where it is even hard to find a cashier to buy something. Ana usa

  4. I think you are being harsh on sales people. It is their job to sell, you do not have to listen.

    Coming over and enquiring if you need any help in a shop is "good customer service" and hardly a pushy sales technique comparable to double glazing or doostepping.

    You are of course right that you do not have to listen to a sales person, but to walk out of a shop because someone offers to help you does seem a little extreme. Most retail workers are not working on a commission basis, so have no incentive to "sell".

    Enjoy the blog, and your post was thought provoking.

  5. I hate having someone come up and ask if they can help me. If I need help I will ask for it, but having someone jump on me the moment I walk in the door makes me feel as if I'm being watched from the get go. As for TV advertising - don't these people realise that for many viewers the more annoying their advert the LESS likely we are to buy something. Unless I've researched and found a certain company to be the best value, I would purposely avoid buying products from them if their advert is so cringe-worthy.

  6. Good luck with finding those saucepans. Let us know how you get on.

    Sft x

  7. Great post. Most need to learn how to avoid hidden sales pitch. We had a very successful series here in advertising and its gumpf, called The Gruen Transfer.

    I get the commenters above who say shop assistants are doing their job and may be well-meaning, but they are their to sell. I have never heard a sales assistant say, "Don't buy that new lounge. Your old one will do the trick. And you really shouldn't take out a loan or put more on your credit card." Or in a clothes shop, "Don't you think you have enough clothes? That dress really makes you look fat."

    1. Hi lucinda. I googlied your programme, it's a pity we don't have something like it over here, then maybe people would not make such horrendous mistakes when shopping.

  8. Good evening Ilona from House fairy
    My last job was in sales. I got to see behind the scenes how things worked.
    Under 18's for cheap wages.
    Not enough sales = there is the door!
    Correct lines to say to every customer.
    Small contract hours so they could have you work the hours they would generously decide you could have each week.

    When I need to open my purse I now buy online and get it delivered or do click and collect for no p&p for house hold items.
    I do like to go whoopsie shopping though!.

  9. I am normally super frugal. But, and there is always a BUT. I had to splurge after Christmas in the sales for some saucepans. They were on sale and they are by le crueset. they are stainless steel and I never had pans that heat up so quickly and at such a low temperature. Before I had to have my stove on warp factor 9. now I can cook at 3 or 4 and it is the same result. So I am saving on electric. they have a 3 ply bottom

    I didn't buy them from this shop. but they are the same pans. I am really happy with them. they are really sturdy and I don't think I will ever have to replace them, they were on sale and I had a coupon. = very happy Sol

  10. sorry this is the link

    I wouldn't normally say any kitchen equipment is good, but I am really happy with these

    1. Thank you Sol, I'll take a look at those. I was hoping my pans would last a bit longer, but they are really awful now, all the non stick coatings are chipped, and the big one smells permanently of curry, even after washing it. Yuk. My scrambled eggs are starting to stick to the bottom of the small pan.

  11. I started my working life in good old Woolies back in the 60,s. My favourite job was restocking the counter too. That may have been due to the two good looking boys in the stockroom ha ha!
    The Victor Meldrew clip was very funny and I spent an hour looking at other funnies on Youtube. I am so easily side tracked !

  12. It's a good game to mute the sound during ads. We also used to watch tv ads and try and work out what emotion the advertiser was appealing to ie fear, vanity, being the odd one out etc.

    Like you I'll ask for help if I need it. What annoys me about a lot of shop assistants is lack of product knowledge. If you're selling something you should know how it works!!!

    Linda xx

  13. When I worked in fast food there were a lot of set phrases you said to make people spend more. For example, if they ask for a burger, you ask if they want a meal. If they want a meal, you ask if they want a large meal. People are more likely to upgrade if they are offered, because you have to make a split decision.

    I have recently experienced some seriously hard selling techniques in Turkey. We were part of a group trip to a carpet weaving place, which was very interesting, but they also wanted you to buy. They offered drinks and interestingly split people off from the group to divide and conquer. I suspect this is a very important trick to them, because people in groups influence each other.

    I am terrible for falling for advertising! I try and avoid it because if I see an ad for a chocolate bar for example, I immediately think to myself "one of those would taste really good right now!".


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