Friday, 13 February 2015

The Principles of Pursuit

(preceded by The Anatomy of Attraction)

It would be nice wouldn’t it; if you loved someone and it would be enough? It would be fair yes, but not real. In this world though, love or attraction demands reciprocity and a simple balance of probability will suggest that it would be unfair to assume that two people find each other equally attractive. There ought to always exist a deficit of desirability which must be compensated by some means. In other words, you ought to woo the girl/guy.

I don’t need to establish how overtly retarded the textbook approach to wooing really is. For that you can just go watch any “romantic” movie from the 90s and try and figure out how exactly would you get 50 strangers on some random street to sing and dance along to “Khud ko kya samajhti hai…” or something else, after you have figured out who bails you out of criminal custody when you’ve touched/teased/pinched/groped her in full public view.

Interestingly, however, an expression of neediness is the enemy of desirability i.e. the exhibition of need to a person of interest instantly makes you less valuable to him/her.


Ever encountered a door to door salesman? Seen the spring in their step, the excitement in their demeanor, the confidence in their stride, the desperation in their voice? You never come across more enthused people ever in your life and yet what is your first response to them- acceptance/warmth/compassion? No, instead it is apprehension, neglect and denial followed by a fleeting feeling of enormous self-worth. You might have even run away leaving the poor man alone with his sadness, despair and an energy efficient water purifier!

The sales guys don’t realize that however promising they may sound, a person will not purchase his purifier just because he wants to sell it and is honestly passionate about it. You will rather drive all the way to Big Bazaar or VMart and get yourself another similar to it at even twice that rate, but will not buy one from this guy just to make him feel better. That’s Marketing 101- never try and deal from a position of weakness. If you need to sell the pen, you have to create the need!

And it is the same with love.

Love cannot happen just because one needs to. It is because people don’t see a sincere proposal but a helpless person writhing in neediness who instantly gives them the position of strength in the bargain- a sense of pseudo desirability. This is what makes them feel they can do so much better.

But does that mean there’s no correct way to make this deal? Hell no, that’s where the art of flirting comes in.

Flirting is nothing but raw romance. Flirting is the art of making the deal without assuming the position of weakness or seeming needy. Consider it as a lot more civilized version of some pre-historic fight unto death to be the alpha-male of the herd. Extrapolating on the above analogy, that’s the difference between the sales guy and a Marketing Executive.

They are both trying to get into your pants (well, pockets to be precise) but while the sales guy only manages to make you feel sorry for him for a while, a watchful and sophisticated Mark Exec is way more subtle. Starting with a customer survey via dedicated clients, he will first figure out the kind of product that will suit the demand or arouse need in the customer. He then builds a precisely customized brand value that satisfies this need. He will floor you with his attractive billboards, flashy ads, eye catching slogans, raunchy catch phrases, indispensable warranties, dependable guarantees (and at times even glorified product reviews from past customers)! He will make you realize how you’ve lead an incomplete, pointless and pathetic life so far and why only his unique product in the entire market can provide the missing vitality.

Some users are apprehensive of not so memorable past experiences with similar products and need a lot more convincing. But the Executive knows from his experience in the economy that in an ever changing market place bustling with new and better products, such grievances are bound to be short-lived just like their customer’s attention spans. They are particularly wary of potential competitors and have dedicated PR and crisis management teams to tackle critical situations. All they need to do is stick around for a while. May be slip in a discount offer or a cash back voucher once in a while just to stay in the focus and earn their trust until they make you realize that their product is tailor made for you.

The only variable here is time. Not all Executives have the kind of patience and resources to fuel the R&D required to compete and stay long enough in the industry. Given enough of those, there is absolute allowance for every wannabe investor to aim as high as he can. Then of course there are those who wish to diversify and have no qualms with compromising product quality. A change of clients does little harm to either party when both of them have made peace with the fact that there is little room for long term attachments in an unforgiving market place and despite the cut throat competition, opportunities are virtually endless.

Most of the time, it is just about striking the most suitable deal with the best possible client for an appropriate time frame. There may be myopic venture capitalists on a rebound who are just looking to break even before they move on for greener pastures or dedicated angel investors who wish to build a partnership that endures the ravages of the economy. Consequently, it may be a short term collaboration, a mid-term joint venture or even a long term partnership. It doesn’t matter whether you are doing it the honest way (So yes, all IS fair…) What matters is simply whether or not you need to stay in the market.

In hindsight, it might have seemed inhuman to examine something as transient and abstruse as emotions from the unforgiving lens of rationality. But come to think of it, this inevitable battle between mind and heart- which, ironically, seldom want the same thing- is as old as time itself. There is no unconditional love, only unconditional needs. Most of the time, they are borne out of the primitive human instinct that sincerely seeks the warmth of companionship. But at times, they are motivated by a twisted rendition of something as unremarkable as carnal desires. Regardless of the inception, at times, it blossoms into a memorable journey and we call it love. Most of the time it succumbs to one of the many fallacies of human nature and we call it fate. Somewhere between these two extremes, life happens.

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