## Marketing number theory

I just posted a comment at TechDirt, and thought it was worth repeating here:

As much as we scoff at the “\$.99” thing, it works. But considering it’s near-universal application, our brains usually adjust for it, such that 9.99 registers as “10 bucks”. We tend to shop logarithmically, such as we give little to no consideration to things at the \$0.10 marker (look how often now you see nickels and dimes in those “Give a Penny, Take a Penny” trays), a quick snap judgement at \$1.00 (ie Like=Buy), a brief value consideration at \$10 (“Does this have a use for me?”), and so on and so forth for each order of magnitude. So, to maximize your profits, you want to price as close to the next mental step of the customer while putting some number play to use to ensure that they consider the price less than that next step. This book situation is a perfect example: \$0.99 is less than a buck, so the mind doesn’t go to risk assesment or visualising a possible buyers remorse situation… if there is a light interest in the product, and there’s an easy way to acquire it, you hit that buy button. At \$2.99, or even \$1.99, or even \$1.29 (*cough* iTunes *cough*), the mind sees that as “more than a dollar”, and thus, more consideration than a flippant purchase.  Now, back to the number 9. Considering it’s abundant use, I suggest 8 be the new 9. If an 8 precedes a 9, it prevents the mind from rounding when making snap judgements. When you see “\$0.89” or “\$8.99”, your mind no longer subconsciously rounds to the full next step. You see “significantly under a buck” and “significantly under ten bucks”, respectively, so for \$.89 songs, you may not even listen for the whole sample, and for that \$8.99… whatever… hey, at least you’ll get SOME use out of it, and if it sucks, well, it was “cheap” (look around your house and find just how many “under \$10” items you have laying around).
I’ll end with a warning: pricing is just one aspect of marketing and doing business in general. If no one knows your product exists, or can’t acquire it, it doesn’t matter how you play with the pricing.

## Evil is what happens when good is lacking.

I used to think of good vs evil as two forces fighting each other, as seems to be the common portrayal. In a wonderful moment of science-meets-religion, I began to see it another way. A common analogy for good vs evil is light vs darkness, yet, “darkness” isn’t a “thing” per se, it is the lack of something… in this case, light. In the same way, cold doesn’t fight against heat, it is merely the result of the lack of heat, and the colder it is, the less heat energy there is.

So, back to the understanding of evil. “Sins of omission” come into a new (pardon the pun) light. If evil is the inherent result of the lack of good, then even withholding good is a sign we are starting to step away from the light source and into the darkness.  I now know understand why the Bible says “pray without ceasing”, as not having constant communion with the source of good/”light” will simply result in a more evil/”dark” state.

This understanding also clears God of any accusations of “Why did God even create evil?”, because He didn’t… evil is simply the result of not being in His light.

## Blooper? Or mental block?

A little slice of comedy I made note of earlier in the month to post here.

The Global Mail (July 6) gave some warnings to fairground wanderers: “it can vary anywhere from as simple as blisters and headaches all the way up to anything more serious”

All the way up to anything more serious, huh? Shoot. That’s serious.  Watch out for Ebola at the PNE!

## What comes around goes around: Don’t be a coupon fiend.

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of scanned coupons sent to me by friends and family via email. The latest example is a whole sheet of free Iced Lattes at McDonalds, which I doubt was intended by McDonalds that way (it was probably just a single coupon in a newspaper that was scanned and then duplicated to fill up a whole page). A certain someone I know has gone through MULTIPLE pages of these coupons, clearly taking things too far.

When businesses give stuff away, one should never doubt that it’s intended as an investment to make a greater amount back down the road. If someone just takes advantage of the intended offer and decide not to do business with them in the future, so be it, that’s the cost of doing business. But blatant disregard for the company’s well-being like in the example above… well, what comes around goes around.

## The Triune Hierarchy

I watched a series called “The Truth Project“. The speaker raised some interesting points, but what really stuck with me was the concept he introduced of what I’ll call “The Triune Hierarchy”.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun to see that there’s more truth to this truth then that speaker let on. Here’s what I figured out:

– in any setting with 3 or more entities, the most effective, efficient method to accomplish a goal is to have this triune hierarchy in place
-all of us, at different times and events in our lives, will have to rise to the occasion in each of the 3 roles
-despite having to be each of the 3 roles throughout life, your life is defined by one particular role that is natural for you
-trying to be either of your non-natural roles,  or performing more than one role, for a significant amount of time, will frustrate and deplete you; conversely, performing in your natural role brings you fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

What are the 3 roles in this hierarchy? It’s hard to choose the best analogy, as you’ll see it everywhere (Owners/Managers/Workers, Masters/Journeymen/Apprentices, Husband/Wife/Children, Federal/Provincial/Municipal… etc). Since I’m a businessman, I’ll use the first example:

Owners: Idea people, who see “the big picture”, who lead and dream and inspire and motivate. They see opportunities and can’t bare the thought of nothing being done about it.  Owners generally make lousy workers (see “Undercover Boss” for hilarious examples of this), as they spend too much time dwelling on how to make improvements to the job.  I often see small business owners also take on the role of manager, and they are always frustrated and burned out. There’s a difference between tracking the numbers, and seeing the changes that need to be made in order to improve the numbers. Owners specialize in the latter.  Seeing the organization making progress towards the dream is what brings fulfillment to the Owner.

Managers: Organizers. They see chaos and are driven to bring order to it. Seeing a smoothly operating organization is what brings fulfillment to the Manager.

Workers:  Specialists. They do a certain task extremely well.  They could be world famous neurosurgeons, or the janitor at your building that loves his job. Doing their task well and being recognized for it is what brings fulfillment to the Worker.

Yes, as evidenced by the longer description for the owner-type… I am an owner type. Yes, I did not do well in school, and yes, the first thing I did after school is start my own business, and yes, I can’t stop thinking of ways to improve this or that.

Now, for those that may be bothered by the term “hierarchy”, let me explain that that term is meant to imply merely quantity and authority, NOT value. Each role is needed, and equally valuable.  By quantity I mean that it’s not very efficient to have as many managers and owners as there are workers, so it’s safe to say most people are Workers, some are Managers, and even fewer are Owners. As for authority, there needs to be a sense of unity-in-purpose in any organization. The hierarchy enables that unity by having “the top” disseminating the focus on down.

Now, despite the ideal, I’m not naive enough to be surprised by the gross misuses of authority in this triune hierarchy, where authority is twisted to become synonymous with value. I think the most potent example of this is underpaid assembly employees. Personally, I think manager types could cope better with this work than workers, as they could at least see themselves as contributing to the smooth operation of the company.  But as for the Workers? What does a \$2000/month paycheque and doing the same limited task over and over mean to them? That they ARE less valuable than management. That they ARE less appreciated and respected and talented etc etc.

I wanted to keep going, but that’s it for today. If you are a Manager or Worker type and have further insight, please share in the comments.