I have been involved in the advertising and marketing business, in one aspect or another, for over thirty years. I love marketing and observing how companies market themselves to prospective customers. Some companies do it better than others. They have a name for those companies. They're called "successful."
The key to marketing is to not let your customer know he's being marketed to (or at.....whatever). A company needs to be its customer's friend, confidant and guide. A company must exhibit a "we know what's best for you" attitude and make the customer think he just made a wise decision based on advice dispensed by a friendly, caring company. Of course, the company's main concern is separating a customer from his money as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
However, just like in life, friends can sometimes offer pretty shitty advice.
I like going to the supermarket, although I have no loyalty to any one in particular. I go the one that is closest to my house. If they built one fifteen feet in front of the one I currently go to, I'd have no problem shopping fifteen feet closer to my house. Last week, my wife and I went to a supermarket called Giant that's a little bit further from our house. Despite being a subsidiary of Ahold, a Dutch-based international retailer with three-thousand outlets worldwide, Giant does its best to convey a small-town, homey atmosphere. (That's marketing strategy at work, my friend.)
One of the ways Giant guides its customer is with "Compare & Save" signs all over the store. Scattered from the produce section to frozen foods, these brightly colored placards serve as constant reminders of what a great decision you made by shopping at Giant. They reassure you in the notion that you are a brilliant and conscientious shopper and you know how to stretch your shopping dollar. You care about your family's well-being and you have great concern for the quality of food you put on the table. So, Giant – as your friend – shows you that you should avoid the big-name, faceless corporations who don't give a rat's ass about you or your family and stick with us who not only cherish your patronage, but offer comparable merchandise at a savings of THIRTY FUCKING CENTS! Thirty cents that you can put to better use, say as a down payment on that heart-lung machine for Grandma or tuition for Junior's Harvard education.
What they fail to tell you is: the donuts taste like sawdust.
With friends like that...