Wednesday 15 May 2013

What impresses people.

I suppose the main motivators are signals of wealth, power, physical prowess in one form or another and physical and personal attractiveness.

From these basic ones perhaps we could move on to qualities of living, occupational skills and creative expression.

If I go to my core, and try to find a general sense that might apply to the majority, I would pick on the words "leadership" and "charisma". The heroic sense of being a leader has changed: today it could mean something more passive in respect of gaining a following rather displaying courage and active integrity in terms of responding to a situation.

If I tweet extremely often, or have an extensive facbook presence, are others impressed by my online presence, or do they impress themselves with their own online presence in respect of my online presence?

I'm not being facetious. Once I spent time and money seeking advice about promoting and branding my product. I learnt that image, virtual presence and increase of recognition are paramount. In a word, marketing.

When I was a child, the family went regularly to the Epping market on a Friday evening. My mother believed in fresh produce at good prices. Our home overflowed with far too much fruit and veg. We shared, gave away: I don't remember how we managed to dispose of all the nutritious fibre. What I do remember is the shouting of the vendors as they vied for attention. Potatoes, sacks of cabbage, boxes of plums, peaches, bags of onions, cartons of grapes. Two for forty cents, and ten for a rand. Take the lot for five rand. This is the kind of marketing I grew up with.

This very morning on the radio chat, someone asked the question "Why drive an expensive car?" You only lose capital, get left with something expensive to maintain, and nothing is really gained. There's truth in all of that, yet I prefer to drive expensive cars, myself. The quality of the ride is what impresses me.

What impresses people, in respect of marketing, is what they are led to believe rather than what is credible about the product or experience. Product is easier to debunk, experience can be manipulated by persuasion. If I spent so much money being in this hotel or on that cruiser, I must be having a good time. Is there really a difference between wearing one brand of jeans, another and no-brand jeans? And what makes one G-string utterly superior to another?

I have learnt that not everybody is impressed by God's attention. This surprises me. In fact it leaves me nonplussed. In my experience so few turn towards, and indeed many prefer to turn away from God's attention, that there's nothing left to do. If God's attention is to be avoided, why would anyone want to listen to my input?

"God's attention" is of course a highly-charged phrase. To strip it of religious sense and bring it closer to experience and perception, think of emotions being slammed shut, hearts being closed on purpose, minds refusing to acknowledge their own expanse, and aborted decisions based on fear.

Courage impresses me. Beauty impresses me. Musical expertise impresses me. Personal detail impresses me: how a face changes ever so slightly, yet communicates some deep thing aptly from one moment to the next. How the timbre of a voice tells you more about the person at that moment than the confession does.

Too much marketing has left people jaded. The personal, the mindful attention to service, the detail that fascinates, the discipline of the collector, the dedication of the chef, the resilience of the competitor, whatever makes that excitement of personality shine through: impression doesn't come easily these days.

Finally, what is memorable is a test of what impresses, too. One night after church, on the way back home, our old Morris Oxford broke down close to Mostert's Mill.  I think somethng in the gearbox went. Someone stopped to help us fairly quickly. I remember sitting in front with the kindly, clearly professional gentleman who had supplied a tow-rope and was taking us to a nearby garage before dropping us off at home. Dr Metcalf. I have no idea of who he was, and never had any contact again. Yet I vivdly remember the experience of his kindness and his name. And perhaps the comfort of the ride. I was about five and a half at the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment