If you saw pictures of ‘famous’ people born in the early to mid 1800s you saw them with long beards. Till of course 1900. When 7 o’clock, and other brands of blades had to be marketed, they told you (very convincingly) that beards were gross. It worked. Gillette is the biggest beneficiary of course.

Then they turned their attention to women. Using hair brushed photos women were convinced that body hair was gross. So again PnG with its hair removers and Gillette with its blades became a big beneficiary.

Women were not smoking at all (or not much) in the 1900s. So in the early part a very unconventional marketing whiz started associating ‘lighting up’ to ‘freedom’ – this caught on very well with women. Now they enjoy lung cancer as much as the men.

So you had to create a problem (even if it is not there) and make people believe you can solve it. After all, people only buy something if they believe it will solve a problem. Therefore, if you want to sell more stuff than there are problems, you have to encourage people to believe there are problems where there are none. This great work was done very well by the media. So women started smoking and removing all the body hair. Marketing target achieved.

Now come to financial products. Your wife has been screaming..that you have done nothing for our ‘retirement’ you go and buy a unit linked pension plan and feel relaxed. Oops sorry guys, it does not work that way.

Most sales is made on the basis of creating a false solution for a non existing problem.

When I first attended ‘sales training’ program by the financial services sector, I was told that sales depended on selling to friends. ‘If he does not buy from you he is not your friend’ I was told. So I was encouraged to sell false solutions to unsuspecting ‘clients’. Luckily I had finished a long stint in the brokerage industry and I had some clarity on costs, embedded costs, etc. I could see through some of the part of the game.

This is Marketing 101 – right from when marketing was started being taught in college. When I first studied marketing (thank God, not much) I was told to find people’s “pain points” and then subtly make them feel worse. Then go there like a messiah and tell them my product will make them feel better. In my case, the product that I was selling was RETIREMENT SOLUTIONS, so the idea was to tell people that they will be finished, if they did not have a few million US $ (yes 1 million at least), that no one will ever take care of them. and that something must be done now — oh! And here, buy my book! (by the way my second edition should come out, right?

At least with a book you go wrong, you would have lost Rs. 499. In a ULIP you might end up paying Rs. 50,000 per month for 30 years (I have seen one IIT, IIM girl married to a pharma company executive and daughter of a banker having this product). She told me ‘it is only 50k)..I said…in a good product it could be worth about Rs.15 crores. A great sale by the banker. Till a fellow RM makes her surrender this and buy a ‘new improved ulip’ after 5 years!!

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  1. @luckyoye… the worse I saw recently is the ad which reducing farting smell…selling with the idea of that one eats food at odd times and junk food

  2. The idea of creating(not identifying) and solving problem is pretty much a standard in services industry(at least IT). Every one does it.

    Now things are changing fast, only creative people a creating and solving them. 🙂

  3. I agree. I’ve seen this strategy first-hand in Chennai… in early 1990s, there was no established player for bottled water. A now-very reputed firm (based in South Chennai) came in, methodically polluted the ground water table, increased the arsenic/Potassium levels (don’t know which element was more), sent it to the reputed labs, and showed the results to public…
    then was born XXXX huge water plant for providing “Safe Ozonised ROed….” water.
    This was true Erin Brokovich-style pollution… this is how religions/Corporations/dynasties are born.

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