The good thing about being in a tough situation in life is that thanks to internet and global communication we can access everything without leaving the comfort of the sofa.
As I was trying to find helpful tips on some issues that I’m going through at the moment I encountered a lot of bullshit online. Created to mislead and take advantage of people in the easiest way possible: the easy guides.
I’m going to explain as much as possible on this, so bear with, it will be long.
Here’s a few examples to start with:
5 tips to get the guy
10 easy ways to improve your life and be happier
50 easy home business ideas to start from home
3 simple steps to achieve …
And so on.
First I’ll start with the numbers. Marketing is all about the easy way to get to your brain in the shortest amount of time that the average amount of people spend on advertisement. 30 seconds max on tv/radio/video etc., 10 seconds max on printed format. Hence the number and the words easy/simple and sometimes tips/secrets etc. Also they prey on how lazy humans can be and how desperate they are.
Numbers and wordplay:
1 – Magical number, with just 1 touch, step, look, word, something should change in your life. Now that’s bullshit, even Harry Potter took 7 books, the only things you can achieve by 1 step only is to put on your shoes and only if they don’t have laces.
2 – A pair, plays with the fact that most things come in pairs, shoes, hands, salt and pepper mills, earrings, male and female, even transcendent ideas comes in pairs, good and evil, light and darkness, and I could carry on.
3 – The divine trilogy, as easy as 1, 2, 3, we count on 3 to jump, it remotes back to a sense a divine protection and good luck that everything is going to be alright with just 3 actions, set up your email account in 3 easy steps, no one wants to take much more than that to set up or do some boring task and we secretly expect divine intervention that we don’t come of it with a broken leg or worse.
4 – It’s a tricky number to play with but because is less than 5 (full hand) it preys on our laziness, it’s not used as much as others as it also resonates with some very unlucky superstitions.
5 – A handful, when you count with your fingers it becomes unpractical to use a second hand and not many of us will use our toes, it helps keeping focus of steps and tasks at hand, bend one finger for each step achieved and gives you a sense of completion and success.
6 – Half a dozen, not a very used number because 12 is cheaper, so a bit of playful wording is involved, you won’t see half a dozen tips for anything but you will see 6 easy and quick steps instead, again it’s also a superstitious number, you know, the whole devil thing.
7 – Godlike number, 7 advices from the rich for success, God makes the earth in 7 days so you should feel like one too by mastering the 7 tips, steps, secrets, the word play is phenomenal, it creeps on your desire for admiration and acceptance, and it’s considered lucky in some cultures and unlucky in others so its use depends on the target audience.
8 – Luck and the infinite, although some cultures consider this number to be very bad because of its dizzy ways it is also a symbol of all that shouldn’t end, like love, time, universe, and even knowing that none of the above are infinite we still believe in it, thus 8 secrets to a perfect relationship, 8 easy steps for a more meaningful existence.
9 – It’s just like 4
10 – The lazy bastard, most people when facing titles like 10 secrets to master the art of seduction, think to themselves, if I master 5 I’ll be ok, 10 and 12 are perfect numbers for you to feel better on skipping the harder ones or just do the ones you are more familiar with.
From 10 onwards it’s just a matter of using round numbers like 25, 50, 100 or familiar numbers like 33, 69 and 101 you had some wordplay and your appealing title is done.
The actual content of these guides:
Taking aside the things that a phycologist, an economist and a doctor can tell you, 5 ways to improve your general health, the content of these guides tend to be pretty much common sense, smaller versions of extensive research made by others (leading to a lot of important information being left out) and stereotypes that will most likely end badly. For example, it’s common sense that we should drink plenty of water to improve our health, that some home businesses although bringing you some extra money won’t be enough for you to pay your bills, otherwise we would all have businesses from our kitchen table in our pj’s that only really take off after significant time and money being put in to them, and our love life would be just a few text messages away of being better than a Jane Austen novel.
The final catch:
These guides and tips are usually presented by someone that says that they have helped millions or are posted in some website, magazine or other platform in order to help you.
Let’s be honest, when you truly want to help someone you don’t charge them for it do you? Nor do you expect any type of compensation for it. But there’s always the book to be bought, the seminar to be attended, the sponsor that it’s just on the side with the helping product for you to purchase on your way to whatever you are trying to achieve.
When I was in Uni. I used to buy a certain worldwide publication and I kept it for a year as sometimes I could use the advertisement campaigns for projects, we had a really big project and I needed all that I could get my hands on so I went through my magazines, page by page to find campaigns that suited the project, at some point some of the titles started to sound extremely familiar, specially guides, tips and such, they sounded familiar because they had been recycled from one year’s issue to another year’s issue, needless to say that I was short on ads and long on repeat magazines, a lot of recycling was done and I didn’t bought it again. These articles were being used to fill pages when there wasn’t enough material for that issue to be sent to the printer as the magazines need a certain amount of advertisement to keep the printers rolling. Same happens with websites, ad space costs thousands.
And now to end this long post, I give you the guide to all guides:
- Use your common sense, I you don’t have it call your mom
- There’s always someone trying to make money on other people’s needs
- Nothing gets fixed in easy steps
- You don’t get rich just because you work out in the morning, you need business savy
- Secrets are secrets and smart people keep them for themselves
- Consult an actual expert before making a stupid decision
- Do your own research
7 steps, you’re an official God/Goddess, wasn’t that easy?
Lots of love