Thank you for a great first year

By the|G|™ Used under the Creative Commons Attribution license

It feels like an appropriate moment, i.e., Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., to mention that this autumn I passed the one-year mark writing The Contrast Principle.

It is especially timely because one of the most heartfelt reflections I have about the experience is how much I appreciate the time readers have spent with the blog.

As airlines like to acknowledge that they “know you have your choice of carriers,” I understand how many things — whether online, on your phone or in the non-digital world for that matter — vie for your attention each day. I also know how many of us feel like we have less and less free time.

So at this time of thanks I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your readership.

Other reflections from the first year (or 14 months, to be precise)….

I’ve enjoyed the process of writing the blog: from experiencing the spark of an idea to thinking through the topic, performing needed research, writing, proofreading and the satisfaction of pushing the “publish” button.

Admittedly I haven’t posted as often as I’d have liked (see the comment above about lack of time). Or even as often as ideas have struck me — I don’t know how many topics I’ve scribbled down but haven’t yet turned into posts. However, each time I have posted it’s been accompanied by a sense of accomplishment.

Adding to my thanks above, I am also extremely grateful for all the responses I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who has commented on post topics — whether on the blog itself, via the Contact email, or in person — or who have “liked” or shared posts.

Lastly, I’m thankful that this blog has been a gateway to connecting with both new people and old friends. I’ve received emails and blog-related LinkedIn connection requests from people as far away as Asia and as close by as downtown L.A.

I’m looking forward to another year of The Contrast Principle and hope you’ll continue to join me.

– Josh Cole, 11/28/13

2012 year end


Two year-end social media notes, one professional and one personal. (At least to the diminishing extent that those realms are distinct from one another).

On the professional front, I’m happy to share that Universal Studios Hollywood made one of Facebook’s 2012 Trends top 10 lists, in the Check-Ins category.

Facebook 2012 Trends - Check-ins

On a personal note, I’d like to extend a very sincere thank-you to everyone who has taken time to read posts on this blog. I’ve been touched by how many people from different parts of the world have visited The Contrast Principle since I started it in September. I’ve received a lot of words of encouragement and great feedback, including many thoughtful comments that have added to post topics.

After years of telling my wife I was considering starting a new blog and once a week saying “that’d make a good post,” I finally committed myself to the effort. I’ve really enjoyed the process and am looking forward to continuing in 2013.

Thank you in advance for your continued interest and support.

And, more importantly, best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful New Year!

— Josh Cole, 12/31/12

The Contrast Principle

The contrast principle (or contrast effect) says that when you experience two similar things in succession, your perception of the second is influenced by the first.

For example, when you pick up a heavy box and then a light one, the second one will feel lighter than it really is. Or to quote a colorful example from Robert Cialdini’s excellent book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

If we are talking to a beautiful woman at a cocktail party and are then joined by an unattractive one, the second woman will strike us as less attractive than she actually is.”

(Sorry guys, the same holds true when women look at us.)

So why is contrast principle as the name of this blog?

Foremost because I find it to be an interesting insight into the way we perceive and experience the world. It’s a good example of how our perceptions are shaped and influenced by external experiences in ways we’re often only vaguely—or not at all—aware of.

I also like it for the title because my intention is to primarily write about marketing-related topics, and the contrast principle is applied in salesmanship. When you’re quoted a high price and then a lower one, the second seems lower than it really is.

An observation of this principle in the wild:  Costco’s watch case.

At my local Costco, the case always contains a handful of watches in the $5,000 – $10,000 price range. These watches are placed at the side of the display case near the main aisle, so they’re likely the first watches most consumers see as they approach the case.

Between their location and appearance, you can’t help but look at the $5,000, $6,000+ watches.

The $950 Tag Heuer you see two steps away looks surprisingly inexpensive. “I can afford that,” I always hear myself thinking. And the $89 sports watch? Why not pick one up for weekend hikes and working out — they’re almost giving them away.

I doubt there are many impulse purchases of the small selection of high-end watches, but my guess is that their main value to Costco lies in the comparison.

My local Costco store isn’t an anomaly — I saw the same set-up in other branches, including one in another state.

Lastly in terms of choosing “The Contrast Principle” for the blog name, I just like how it sounds.

If you read a post on this blog and then a post on another blog directly thereafter, hopefully the quality of my post doesn’t make the other one seem better than it really is. But if so, it’d be the contract principle in action, in both name and effect.

Looking for Lessons

For a second I thought of “Looking for Lessons” as the name of this blog. But I quickly thought better of it. It’s a terrible name, unless the goal is to induce boredom prior to first line of body copy.

But perhaps it’s excusable as a post title. I like it because, boring as it might sound in copy, that’s what I’m doing.

My intention with this blog is to share observations and ask questions. Perhaps on occasion it might … possibly… hopefully … spark ideas for some readers.

The blog posts will primarily focus on topics related to marketing, digital and otherwise.

But the world is a very interesting place, and you never know what will catch one’s attention or spur a conversation.

I hope that writing this blog will be interesting for me and hopefully at times for others as well.

If I’m at some point I’m at loss for ideas and ask you to guest author a post… kindly say “yes.”