Cunningham’s Law: “The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”
Ever heard of this law before?
It’s true. And if you’ve been on the internet for any amount of time, you’ve figured this out.
A better question for marketers, though, is why is it true?
The answer is simple: We love feeling like the smartest person in the room.
We like one-upping other people. We don’t mind if someone lacks knowledge about something, but we do mind when someone has incorrect knowledge that we know we can correct.
It hurts to say, but it’s true.
So what does this mean for marketers? Well, if you give customers the chance to be one-uppers, you can make more sales.
Here’s an example: A popular—but not so ethical—tactic is sending out pre-holiday “internal test” emails about upcoming sales.
These emails are designed to look like a mistake—like something meant for the internal team. And they often convert very well.
You look in your inbox, you go, “Ha! They made a mistake! They weren’t supposed to send this out!”
You open the email… and all of a sudden you’re spending $500 on a premium Japanese rice maker.
Engineered “mistakes” are one way to use Cunningham’s Law—but there are other ways to do it… without necessarily tricking your customers.
But be careful. With great power comes great responsibility…