Shut up, Frank Kern.

I fell for it.

I watched some videos 18 months ago. Here’s this surfer dude who claims to work 40 seconds per month and make millions by flipping a switch. He seems like a straight shooter, walks the walk.

4 or 5 obviously artificial “product launches” later, I’m seeing the same emails over and over. “Is this product for everyone? No. Not if you don’t intend to actually use it.”

What does that mean? So if you don’t intend to use this product, it’s not for you?

Great job. “Is this product for you? No, not if you’re lazy. Not if you’re a loser and hate money. Not if you can’t follow through.” Really? Wow, you’ve really run us through some funnels. Only the few, the brave, the well-intentioned, remain.

Trying to create an artificial market segment that includes “everyone” is the coward’s way out. Show some balls and pick out real people who won’t benefit from your product.

Like me.

The Parable of the Sushi Coupon

First of all, here’s a surefire way to conquer writer’s block; buy an iPhone. I downloaded the WordPress app, and being able to post when a thought strikes is awesome (plus the iPhone keyboard encourages brevity).

On to today’s topic.

My wife and I have been wanting to go out for sushi for many weeks, but due to the time and budget constraints of having a new baby, it’s been difficult to get out.

We’d made up our minds to go tonight, and planned to go to a nearby place that is not amazing, but a known quantity.

In the mail today, we received a flyer for a new sushi place near our house, offering 20% off any order. Two things scared me: 1) messing with an unknown, new restaurant serving raw fish, and 2) that this restaurant’s poorly-designed flyer needed to offer 20% off to draw customers.

So why did we end up at the unknown restaurant?

It wasn’t a sense of adventure. It was the 20% coupon, precisely the thing that turned me off at first. The idea of cheaper sushi compelled us there.

We werent the only ones; the place was more packed than any new restaurant I’ve seen. I doubt this new sushi place anticipated the result they got; as a marketer, I sure wouldn’t have. But in a tough economy, people don’t give up the things they want, they just look to pay less for them.

In this age of social media and “viral marketing”, it’s important to remember not to look down on the less flashy stuff.

There are lots of ways to make money in a down economy, but if you’re asking how you can help people save money on the things they’re already planning on buying, it’s not a bad start.

And the sushi was excellent.

Listening for your Cassandra

I had a coworker remind me recently, when confronted with some negative talk, to not be too dismissive of our “Cassandras”. I am not intimately familiar with Greek mythology, so I had to look up the reference.

Cassandra is the story, in Greek myth, of the woman who received the ability to see the future, only to be cursed that no one would believe her. This would be an exquisite form of torture that all of us, at some point, have the unfortunate ability to relate to (particularly those of us that have attempted to advise teenagers of the rocky shoals ahead).

In today’s society, as in those before us, we tend to be dismissive of those that approach us with such negativity. We’re conditioned never to bring up problems without pointing out a silver lining, for fear of being perceived as naysayers.

As I was perusing The Consumerist today, I was reminded that some of us just didn’t get that message:

Jim Cramer 1 year ago

And a year later, unlike Cassandra, he can recall his prescience to those that called him crazy 1 year ago.

Now the Consumerist calls this “gloating”, but if you watch the follow-up, you’ll see more of a general feeling of frustration that people ignored and still aren’t fixing the underlying problems that caused our current economic meltdown.

It was a sobering reminder that all too often, when we hear the voices yelling for us to stop the line because we’re walking into disaster, we dismiss them as “tactless”, “negative”, or “crazy”, and push forward with our admirable exuberance.

I understand that if we spent all day pondering the doomsday prophecies coming from society’s fringes, we’d never sleep or get anything done. But we’d do well to at least consider these viewpoints from time to time.

How do you listen to find your Cassandra? The nice thing is that you don’t have to look too hard, as they’re usually vocal enough to attract attention to themselves. If you’re working on a project and someone predicts impending disaster, it tends to stick out a bit.

Rather than dismiss, correct, fire, or ignore them, it might be in your best interests to indulge them for a moment and let them explain their reasoning. You can teach them tact later.