Sometimes the key in writing a successful column — or a successful advertisement or short story — is a headline that grabs a reader and pulls them in. I learned this from David Ogilvy, the guy who sort of invented advertising as we know it today.
David preached headlines.
“That’s the way people read,” he said. “They skim headlines until they stumble upon something that sparks their interest, then they read what is below it. Study the cover of Reader’s Digest,” he said, “and you’ll learn the fine art of writing headlines that work.”
For those of you born after 1960 or so, Readers Digest was sort of a pocket-sized magazine that you bought in grocery stores. Its front cover was basically a list of all the stories and articles inside, sort of like an index but with more panache. It was founded in 1922 and is still the largest paid circulation magazine in the world, reaching over 40 million people worldwide each issue.
For some reason, I doubt that Clark Howard ever read Reader’s Digest. I don’t know why I think that; it’s just a hunch.
Maybe that’s why I don’t like Clark. How can you like someone who doesn’t like Reader’s Digest? I mean, someone like that probably kicks dogs too. You think?
But, if I’m honest, what’s not to like about the guy? I mean, his purpose in life is to help you save money, not spend more than you have. So, with the money you save, you can go out and, well, maybe spend a week oceanside at Sea Island.
In the unlikely event that you don’t know about him, Clark Howard has a radio show. He is also rich. And he is famous. And instead of treating his prostate cancer, took the wait and watch approach instead of going under the surgeon’s knife or being zapped by radiation like the rest of us. And knowing Clark, he got away with that.
His Wikipedia page says this: “The Clark Howard Show is heard every day on more than 200 radio stations throughout North America, and airs from WSB in Atlanta.”
Big bucks. National exposure. Just for telling you how to save a penny here and a penny there. Really? I hate this guy.
And my wife just loves him. “Clark says this,” “Clark says that.” I am sure if I never hear that again the rest of my life, it will be too soon. And, for the record, he gets it wrong sometimes too — not that my wife would agree.
He says never buy that supplemental insurance/warranty. “It’s not a good value” he says. And my wife buys it hook, line and sinker. I always buy the extended insurance. Always. And 99.99 percent of the time I buy it, I use it. I buy it on those jump-start batteries, on flashlights, on tools, on HVACs, and on new cars and more. Clark would never, ever buy a new car, much less the extended warranty.
I don’t think I have ever had an iPhone that I didn’t use that extended warranty to get it replaced or repaired — for free. (Clark would say it’s not free). I even buy the extra insurance for my wife’s iPhones — always. You think this would be appreciated? How’s this: “Clark says iPhones are terrible purchases because Androids do everything iPhones do for a fraction of the price.” Hate the guy.
Anyway, because it works so well for him, I’m giving you a tip on how to save money. I want to be rich. Being famous wouldn’t be that bad either.
Here you go.
My son Carl, who is smarter than Clark, recently needed to have a program written. The next day, I asked him how his project was going. He said it was finished.
“How did you get the code written?” I asked him. “That is always very expensive. How much did that set you back?”
“Twenty bucks,” he said.
“No, way” I replied.
“I just described the code I needed and posted it on a sub domain of Reddit.com and said I would pay $20 to have it written,” Carl said. “I got the code in less than hour after I did the post. I paid the guy with Venmo.“
The look in my face must have screamed “How, what!?” So he explained that the site was sort of like a reverse Ebay where someone posts a “work needed” and how much they are willing to pay, and then other people bid down what they are willing to do the work for — even writing code. I could just imagine some person on the other side of the world trawling this website all day and cranking out code a couple times an hour.
But I am sure that Clark would say that was too risky. You know how conservative he is. He probably wouldn’t even like another site Carl told me about — BuggyBusters.com
So, maybe the headline for this column should be “Don’t go to BuggyBusters.com” or else.”
Now can I be rich too?