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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tricks of the Trade!


I remember there used to be a program on TV called "Tricks of the Trade" that lasted for five minutes and had people for different walks of life who would show a trick of their trade. One stayed in my mind and I use it still. When you've used an expensive paint brush with oil-based gloss paint, no matter how much you plunge the brush into cleaning spirits, when it dries there's always a residual of dried paint that more often than not ruins the brush. The alternative is to leave the brush in a jar to soak in the spirit, though this means the hairs on the brush usually become permanently bent. Great for painting round corners!

The Trick of the Trade was to clean as much of the paint off the brush as possible, then still use the jar half full of spirits, but to get two thin pieces of wood and put them crossways either side of the brush handle and secure them with a rubber band. The brush can then be suspended in the jar supported by the two bits of wood and the brush bristles will be cleaned long-term without being compressed or bent. Very simple.

There must have been loads of similarly clever ideas in the series, none of which I remember. However that's not the point of the blog. It's the tricks tradesmen of all kinds use... not necessarily for our benefit!

Supermarkets are past-masters at making us buy what they want to sell, rather than what we need. The Points Loyalty Cards they're so keen to give us as a reward for shopping with them allow supermarkets to very accurately profile over a period of time what we buy, where we buy it, how much we buy, what else we might be interested in buying. That's on an individual basis, but  supermarkets can profile us as groups, by age, by location and socio-economic group. So much for free choice!
Once in the supermarket all the expensive versions of products are put at eye level and less expensive ones are on the top shelves. They make sure their own-brand goods are also highly visible.
Inevitably staple items such a milk, bread and sugar are placed far apart and usually away from the entrance and the tills so that you have every opportunity to buy items on the spur of the moment. On average people spend up to 35% more on a supermarket visit than they intended to, with men being the worst culprits. For instance in America one supermarket found that wives were often telling their husbands to call into the local mart to buy nappies / diapers (especially those that had babies) on their way home from work on Friday evenings. Very cleverly they surrounded the nappies with cans of beer. Needless to say their beer sales went through the roof!
Then there's the checkout. While you wait for the previous customer to bag up their goods and pay there's the "opportunity" to buy magazines, sweets, cut flowers and even financial loans and life insurance as supermarkets move into banking.
Supermarkets don't miss a trick!

Some tradesmen depend on our lack of knowledge of their trade and we all hear about the sucked in breath "who did this for you then?", or the famous "Blimey, you're going to have a problem with this soon. I can sort it no for you, but it's going to cost". The pounds and dollar signs have multiple noughts after them.

And what about writers? Authors have the knack of making you want to read on...just when you've reached the end of a chapter and want to switch the light out and got to sleep!

Comments of Tricks of the Trade, please!

Blog on, dudes!

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