In western society, some of the most frequently told jokes revolve around the three most common lies in circulation. They follow a number of patterns, many of which I will not go into in a column that winds up in general circulation.
I have, however, defined the three biggest lies as told in AV. The first one is easy to guess, as it applies to all businesses, not just to those of us in the audiovisual field:
“The check is in the mail.”
Certainly, this is the most common of all the lies that are told to us, and must be a testimony to how gullible those of us in our industry appear. I am informed personally every time this one is told to us. The guy who handles all of our business and finances at the company that I run (we’ll call him Mike, because that’s his name) has a particularly sarcastic form of wit about this particular lie. The fact that this sarcasm is inflicted on the bearer of the message (usually me) and not the customer who originated the message isn’t really his fault. And the fact that I have to avoid him like the plague when I have this message for him isn’t my fault, either. It’s just the way of the world.
But that’s the lie that everybody knows. Now let’s move on to a couple that are constant, but which are exclusive to our particular industry:
“I will gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” — J. Wellington Wimpy
“We have no budget for this event, but have all kinds of events coming up for which we have Warren Buffett kind of money. If you’ll just do this one cheap, we’ll be sure to use you on the ones that are coming up in the undefined but near future for which we have been issued a license to print money.”
Since most of my career has been spent selling and planning events, I am exceedingly, cynically familiar with the Wimpy.
And, truth to tell, I have to admit to having fallen prey to this one, especially in the early years of my career. In fact, those very expensive program advertisements are pinned to a cork board over my desk to remind me not to fall prey to it again.
My standard response to this ploy: Offer a discount on the second, high dollar, event.
As a tip to those of you who are end-users reading this column, and who might be tempted to try this one, make sure that your intended prey is new to the industry, preferably still starry-eyed, and that there isn’t somebody like Mike standing behind him or her to tip them off. In fact, the Wimpy should not be your first ploy. It should be a fallback position from the third most common lie, as you might as well shoot for the moon.
The third most common lie (drumroll, please):
“For an event today, we will NOT repay you Tuesday.”
This one is the gold standard of lies told to audiovisual personnel. It goes something like this:
“The attendees for this event secretly control the entire world, and the oil, diamond and gold supply, so you should be doing this event free to gain exposure for your company and ensure your place in the new world order. In fact, in addition to doing the event for free, you should become a sponsor and buy an ad in the program in order to take advantage of your unbelievable luck in being accorded the privilege of providing free services for our event.”
When confronted with this one, I often think back to something that I was told by one of my first bosses: “There is no such thing as a strategic reason to lose money.”
My standard response to this classic?
“Talk to Mike.”