X-Message-Number: 10446
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 13:01:02 EDT
Subject: Selling Cryonics


Jeff Davis' piece on selling cryonics (Cryonet # 10435) has generated some
criticism, much of it sound--especially the parts about ambulance chasing
etc., an absolute no-no. But we don't want to throw out the baby with the bath
water. Let's look at a few points:

>A systematic analysis conducted according to proven methodologies of market
research (a fascinating project, possibly breaking new ground in the field
of marketing) would be really helpful.  

>A professional marketing plan begins with research to identify specific
market segments, and a sales strategy tailored to each segment

Rudy Matic and others have said the same thing, and they may have a point, but
I see two large doubts here. Second, standard marketing analysis is unlikely
to be applicable, since our product is so non-standard. First, the absolute
numbers of good prospects presently is so small that the relative numbers
don't matter. For the umpteenth time, we know e.g. that Libertarians and
computer people are over-represented in cryonics--physicians too, for that
matter!--but in spite of that, it does not pay (or has not in the past) to
advertise in Libertarian or computer periodicals. (We never tried JAMA.)Of
course--and this is important to remember--something might work now that
failed in the past, either because times have changed or just because next
time it might be done more competently.

As far as I am aware, only two marketing techniques have worked noticeably in
the past. One is the shotgun approach--get the word out as widely as possible
(mostly via free publicity), and wait for a few responses. The other is
patient and persistent work by cryonicists on their own friends and relatives.
(I don't count research as a marketing technique, even though it obviously
makes marketing easier, besides having direct importance.)
I am not at all saying that we should stand pat or try nothing new. But I
think perhaps the most promising way at present to increase recruitment may be
to improve our follow-up procedures, working on those who have expressed
interest but have not joined. What often counts more than brilliant insights
is just a very careful and systematic cultivation of known prospects. Not hard
sell, but patient and appropriate reminders.

>In life, timing plays a big role.  For at least 40,000 years before Dr.
Ettinger published "The Prospect", humans had come to know death as a
certainty, so it seems reasonable that it should take them a while to get
over it.  

Yes, as often previously noted, we are leading the most profound revolution in
human history (including prehistory), with many institutions and deeply
ingrained habits of thought potentially threatened. One might say the wonder
is, not that progress has been so slow, but that we are growing and no one has
been lynched. 

>two fast-talking promoters",=85..After that, Juno (the cryonics company

Leonard Gold was one of the two mentioned, and he did have one pretty good
observation: "When you are selling a laxative, you don't show a picture of a
toilet." No, you show a happy, smiling customer. 

>It would take time and science to bring the world to a level of technological
sophistication where the techniques of cryonic suspension could be seen as
achievable. It would take a population so accustomed to the ever-accelerating
pace of technological progress, that the death meme, ancient and entrenched,
might become vulnerable to the meme of technological possibility.  

Yes and no. Certainly it is true that every striking advance in
technology--especially medicine and biotech--makes our thesis more credible.
On the other hand, Franklin, Condorcet and others were apparent buyers in the
Eighteenth Century.

>Salesmen know.  You sell the sizzle not the steak.

We have to sell both. Sizzle alone is too much like snake oil. 

>Plant the idea before the defenses are built, ie. when they're young and
impressionable.  As the twig is bent so grows the meme. 

We have done that, to some extent. I recently had a letter from a Ph.D.
candidate in microbiology who said that, as a youngster at a Jesuit boarding
school, someone had given him a copy of THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY, and it
had completely altered his worldview. There are also a lot of elderly people
out there who were middle-aged in the sixties, and still retain a vague
intention to do something about cryonics some time. Some of them just need
reminders and easy access.
>Greed.  "Greed is good." God forgive me (just a phrase), but I do love this
one.  Greed is just so,...reliable. 

Al Capp's Billionaire's Club had a sign in front to warn the riff-raff;
"Millionaires, Keep Out!" You just can't afford to miss the future, when we
will all be zillionaires. (Merkle points out that there are more galaxies than
people on earth, so one day you might own not just your own planet, but your
own galaxy, if all that real estate is currently vacant, as seems likely.)(No,
I'm not suggesting we offer a "free galaxy with every membership." But we
might offer a million dollar prize for the best essay on "What I would do with
my own galaxy." Winner to receive a dollar a year for a million years.)

>The harder you try: the more needy you look, the more it seems that you're
trying to sell a bill of goods, the more they resist.  Less is more.  Tease
them.  Tempt them with the juiciest rewards cryonics has to offer--health,
youth, sex, money, power, immortality-- and then turn and walk away. The
less you try the more they will chase after you and the harder they will
work to persuade themselves. 

>Fear, Anger, Stubbornness, Outrage. The dark side of the force.  We don't
like to talk about them, but there they are.  And like greed, they are
reliable.  And jam-packed with emotional energy waiting to be tapped.

Tricky tactics. In SUPERMAN and elsewhere I have tried variations of some of
these. Do you want your (enemy, rival, neighbor,=85..) to dance on your grave?
Will you allow establishment "experts" to VOTE you into the grave? Etc.

>Every day, in oncology clinics around the world, people are being given a
death sentence

We cannot be ambulance chasers, and cannot be seen as such. 

>I thank George Smith for bringing this to my attention. We will often more
readily pay to save others than we will pay to save ourselves.  

Yes, this is important. We do try to remind the prospect that he has a duty to
his family--first, to study seriously and inform himself; then to take the
necessary steps. He should think of himself as a frontiersman of old--no
convenient government or institution to provide direction and protection, only
his own perception and courage between his family and disaster. 

>The first market is, at the risk of seeming foolish: Pet owners.  

We have several dogs and cats at CI. We only freeze pets of members, but some
have apparently joined only to get the pets frozen--no contracts yet for
themselves. (We only store the pets--the owners must arrange perfusion by a
veterinary, to whom we offer suggestions. This can be done premortem, so pets
have it better than people in this respect.) But I don't know if there is any
special, direct way to exploit this in a seemly manner. Ideas?

BOTTOM LINE for individuals: In my opinion, individual members of Cryonics
Institute and other organizations can best help promotion by talking about
cryonics and life extension to their friends and relatives on a regular basis.
Don't try to sell, and don't be a pest or a bore--just cheerfully mention,
from time to time, the interesting things that are going on, and make it clear
that you and your family are much happier now that you have arrangements in
place. Don't push, but lead. Some will follow.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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