Marketing: The Story Of The Lottery Ticket

Get Results: marketing quotes battle of perceptions
Get Results: marketing quotes battle of perceptions

A teacher stands in front of his class of business executives and holds up a lottery ticket. He says to the audience,

“This ticket was an unsuccessful match for numbers two weeks ago. It cost me £2 for it. Will anyone give me £2 for it?”

None of the class responds.

“I’d happily take the best offer you’re willing to give for it, anyone?” asks the teacher.

Again, none of the class responds.

“I’d happily take 20 pence for it, last chance!”

There is a nervous shifting in chairs as the audience look at one another confused, but again none of them responds with an offer for the ticket.

“Okay”, says  the teacher. “Well, if I tell you this ticket didn’t win anything two weeks ago, because I only actually purchased it for the lottery this coming weekend. What would you give me for it now?”

There is a number of humorous exchanges between audience members before one of them shouts out “I’ll give you a £1 for it.”

The teacher asks “Any better offers?”

Another audience member shouts out “I’ll give you £2!”

“Okay!” says the teacher, “I think I’ll keep hold of it in that case, because this ticket wasn’t purchased for this weekend’s lottery, it was purchased for last weekend, and it was a winning ticket for the £30 prize!”

Now the audience members responded with some laughter and a realisation they have been fooled.

The teacher asks “Now what will you give me for this ticket?”

One of the audience says jokingly “I’ll give you £2 for it!”, but then offers £20

Another says “£25!”

The teacher hands the ticket to the person who has offered £25 and says “It’s yours”, the person gives him the £25 after checking that the ticket is a genuinely winning ticket, he realises it has in fact won the £100 prize, not the £30 as stated by the teacher.

The teacher asks, “So this person has got herself a £100 prize which has cost her just £25! How silly do the rest of you feel now lol?”

The audience agrees they have missed out on a great opportunity, and congratulate the woman who had got herself a great deal.

Now this story is used to illustrate the perception of value and how it can be manipulated.

When the class are led to believe the ticket was a failed attempt from a couple of weeks ago, it is valued at zero. None of the audience perceived any value in it at all, and why should they?

When the ticket is described as actually a ticket purchased for the upcoming lottery draw, audience members value it more, in fact £2 is offered for it, which is the face value of the ticket anyway. Why has the audience member offered this? Well because that is the market value  for a ticket in an upcoming draw, and the person may think they have a chance to win something with it, as they would if they purchase the ticket themselves. In fact they were going to buy a ticket anyway for this weekend’s draw and think the opportunity that has presented itself may be a lucky omen.

When it is revealed the ticket is in fact a winning ticket, the offer goes up to £25, which still provides a surplus of £5 for the winning offer, which of course is still a good deal.

When the audience discovers the prize is actually £100, much of them feel quite envious of the winning bid, because they have missed out on an even better deal.

The ticket is the same ticket throughout this whole scenario, the only thing that has changed throughout, is the story the teacher is telling the audience, about the value of the ticket and the subsequent perception from the audience.

The value of the ticket isn’t wrapped up in the material it’s made of, after all it’s just made of paper! It’s not wrapped up in its cost, the cost of the ticket is the same in all the proposed situations.

The value of the ticket is perceived to be in its winning potential, in its reward value.

If I told you I could guarantee you £2 for every £1 you spent with me, would you not spend as much money as you could get your hands on, if you trusted me to deliver on that promise?

Of course you would!

That’s what marketing is all about, the promise of a reward that outweighs the cost of that exchange. The rewards don’t have to be just monetary gains either, psychological gains are often even more important. Having more money is only valuable because of what having more money means to you; more money equals more freedom, more choice, better or bigger possessions etc.

If you can genuinely provide more value than you take in return (in the way of money), and make sure the audience perceive that value, you’ll be a successful marketer.

But remember great power comes with great responsibility. Use your marketing powers for good, and keep your  promises!

Otherwise  you’re not a marketer, your a scammer.

Check out our marketing guide, here.

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