Organisations and governments spend millions and millions of pounds every year on advertising and marketing. Trying to communicate to people their message. Over the last few days here in the UK we have seen an example of the futility of all of this compared to the power of word-of-mouth.
A bunch of activists threaten fuel protests. The government and industry says – “you will not have any problems getting fuel during the fuel protests that are going to occur over the next few days”. That’s alight then, we can all sit comfortably and just get on with our lives – apparently not.
I’ve sat back and watched it all happen, but apparently we have filled our cars with a weeks worth of fuel on just 24 hours. The herding instinct has well and truly kicked in. I’m not sure quite what the mechanics were but I imagine it was something like this:
- Some people didn’t believe the government so went to full up there car.
- They then told others what they had done and why.
- All of the others they told thought “well there can’t be any smoke without fire, there must be something in this” and joined the queue.
- Other see the queue and think the same.
- Before you know it everyone is sat on a garage fore-court filling up.
- The government and industry experts give endless interviews on radio and television to say that it will all be OK but to no avail.
- A short-term fuel shortage is created.
I am absolutely convinced that most of these people won’t use up all of the fuel they have bought for another week at least. I’m also convinced that most of these people will also be very embarrassed that they bothered. Of course I could be embarrassed when I’m shown to be wrong; but I don’t think so.
It would probably do our environment some good if we all stopped using our vehicles for a few days anyway. It would do some waistline a lot of good to actually do some walking.
I work in customer environments when one of our most difficult issues is communicating with people. This story just goes to show that people will listen to whatever they choose to listen to; it doesn’t matter how much money you spend.