Mike and I were watching one of those property programmes the other day. You know the one, where a young couple is looking to relocate relocate relocate to a new home under a hammer and give it a 60 second makeover to turn it into a place in the sun. I don’t really like those sort of programmes, but they’re fun to watch. On this particular day, one line from the show really stood out to us. It was something like this:

“When putting up photos of your house online, be sure not to include photos with Christmas decorations up in the living room.”

Mike and I turned to each other and burst out laughing. We were both thinking the same thing. Who would be turned off by a house purely because it has Christmas decorations in one photo? But at the same time, who would put Christmas photos up to try and sell their house? Do they think that people are looking at these properties thinking “Well it looks really nice. Big garden, spacious rooms, nice neighbourhood… but I wonder what it would look like at Christmas.”

Maybe these festive house sellers are thinking from experience. Maybe they bought their first house because they saw a photo of the living room with a Christmas tree.

“I really like the first house we looked at.”
“Yeah, but this one has a Christmas tree in it!”
“But it’s more money and a smaller house.”
“Yes but look, there’s a Christmas tree! Imagine if we lived in a house with a Christmas tree in it!”
“We could just buy a Christmas tree and put it in any house.”
“Yes, but in this house we already know what it’d look like with a Christmas tree!”
“But the house is not what we were looking for. It’s only got 2 bedrooms and we need 3.”
“Yeah, but… Christmas tree!”

I doubt if I were buying a house I’d ever be swayed by the sight of Christmas decorations, but it’s nice to imagine that the owners want to show it off at its best. Who knows, maybe they might also have a photo of the dining room during a halloween party. They never said anything about that on the TV property show. Will people be put off by halloween decorations? Maybe not a great idea to have a photo of the utility room with a skeleton in the corner.

Who knows, maybe they just didn’t have enough photos of the house and they lost their camera around the time they were selling the house.

“Have we got any more photos of the house?”
“Nah, just use the ones from Christmas.”

If I ever buy a house and then sell it, I think I will put a photo with Christmas decorations on and test the reactions from it.

But joking aside, it did touch on a subject that puzzles me somewhat, of how people are tempted into things with the promise of something – even something unnecessary that they don’t want – for free.

On the Sun Life Direct advert, Michael Parkinson promises us that we’ll get ‘a free parker pen just for enquiring’. What’s that all about? If you need life insurance, you go to a reputable company, maybe referred to you through a family member or friend. You don’t go on TV and see who’s giving away free pens. Frankly, if I’m worried about dying, I’m not going to be too fussed if I get a free pen or not. It’s not like you’re going to have long to use the pen is it. Or maybe that’s part of their plan. Maybe they hide explosives in the pen, so after you buy the life insurance they explode, you die and they get a commission.

But people fall for it. People will buy anything if you offer them something free. Look at the title of this article. Did you read it just because you thought you might get a free spoon? If you did, I’m afraid I have to inform you that there is no free spoon. But why would you want one anyway? Surely you’ve got dozens of them in a drawer in your kitchen, no? But for some reason, if it’s free, people will take it, even if they don’t need it. Incidentally, if you are very poor and do need a spoon – but somehow have the money to buy a PC to look up articles giving away free cutlery – do contact us and we’ll send you a free spoon.

Another example of free nothings being used to entice people is a website I was working on at work. The company does business workshops. On the workshop page, right at the bottom, it lists what each attendee will receive at the end of the workshop. They include a certificate and presentation pack, which is the sort of thing you’d hope for. Then it says ‘free pen and highlighter’. Because if a pen isn’t enough to grab your attention, they’re also throwing in a highlighter! But the final giveaway is ‘complimentary mints’. What?! What business is going to be tempted to shell out hundreds of pounds for their employees to go on a course on the promise of free sweets?!

*looking up courses*
“Ooh, this course has complimentary mints.”
“It’s £50 more though.”
“Yeah, but free mints!!!”
“You know we could just buy our own mints and take them.”
“Forget that, this place gives them away free! We have to go on this course!”
“What’s it like? Does the company have a good reputation? Are they local?”
“Who cares?! Free mints!!!”
“Okay, we’ll go on that one. By the way, how’s the house hunting going?”
“Brilliant. I saw one yesterday that had a Christmas tree in… at Christmas!”

What kind of a world do we live in where complimentary sweets and christmas trees are used as tools to persuade people to buy things?! As I said, people fall for it. The client told us that the customers do actually like seeing it, so it works for them. I’m guessing with the mints one it’s to show that they add the extra little touches, which is nice, but you don’t need to add it on the website. When we have clients come to our office for a consultation, we don’t advertise the fact that we have hot and cold drinks to offer them. It’s just an extra little thing we do. They don’t need to have a drink, they wouldn’t be put out if we didn’t offer them a drink. They might if we sat there drinking in front of them, but otherwise they wouldn’t expect it. They’ve come for a meeting, not tea and refreshments.

So, you’re probably asking yourself ‘Is this article ever going to end?’ and I don’t blame you. The truth is, yes. Unfortunately I must draw this rambling to a close and I’ll do so with an exciting plot twist. You can get a free spoon just from reading this article. Click here to claim your free spoon now!

1 Comment

  1. Nelly on 21/03/2015 at 2:20 pm

    Absolutely gutted that I don’t get a spoon. Brazen false advertising.

Leave a Reply