Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Sell Magazines

I have heard from time to time various advertisements using the approach that there are secrets out there that they are going to let us in on to make our lives much easier or richer or healthier.  Ones tells me that they are going to tell me secrets Wall Street doesn’t want me to know, if only I attend some complementary seminar.  Another tells me there are secrets the credit card companies or banks don’t want me to know to tempt me to sign up for some service – I stop listening half way through, because I am not so paranoid as to think there are that many secrets out there.  Most businesses aren’t that smart or that good at keeping secrets; there’s going to be a leak with news agencies jumping all over it.  Most businesses want to serve their customers and maintain a good reputation and the leaking of secrets is not going to help.  So I usually ignore these pitches as, shall we say, insincere.

That’s why the news of “50 secrets hospitals don’t want to tell you” caught may attention.  It was on network news, but featured a story from The Reader’s Digest.  I thought, these Readers Digest titles feature articles and not advertising.  They are not just saying that to try to sell me some service or seminar.  What is the deal?  So I looked it up.

A Google search of “Reader’s Digest 50 Secrets” took me to this page.  Wow!  There was a whole list of similar titles.  According to the Reader’s Digest, everyone is keeping secrets from us:  hospitals, food manufacturers, nurses, your waiter, pilots, your surgeon, veterinarians, the nursing home staff, your grocer, the HR department and even your pets!  And the really odd thing is that each of these conspirators has exactly 50 secrets!

Curiosity led me to the 50 hospital secrets and I found some common sense ones, like don’t stay in the hospital longer than necessary because it costs more and check your bill for accuracy.  There were many that I wouldn’t really care if they kept the secret from me forever:  some providers bet each other on patients’ readings before they are taken.  Some bet on what the next condition an ambulance will bring in.  Sometimes nurses are getting attacked by violent patients.  None of this is going to affect me, so I don’t really care.  A few tips were helpful, like a tip to bring your own meds from home so you are not buying them at hospital-inflated prices.  In general though, it was kind of ho-hum information.

But let me correct an earlier statement.  I said I was surprised because I didn’t see the Reader’s Digest in the same light as some of the people who were trying to sell me something directly with their pitch about the secrets.  They aren’t trying to sell services, but they are trying to sell magazines – using the same sales approach (over and over) with a slightly different objective.

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