Last week I took two days off to go with the family to Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world. We have been there multiple times over the years and stayed at a new resort this year…primarily attracted by a deal that ended at midnight.
The deal was $100 off one night, and it gave us access to the waterparks (indoor and outdoor) as well as both theme parks (indoor and outdoor). All for the cost of a hotel room. What a great deal! So we booked it before midnight. Thank goodness we did, because the very next day (and every day thereafter) the same deal was available. The daily deal may expire at midnight, but what they don’t tell you is that the same deal starts again at 12:01am.
The Perpetual “Today Only” Offer
I got up early in the morning to go for a run. It was then that I saw, and recognized, the genius to their marketing. They had permanent billboards announcing $10 park tickets as today’s special. Wait, today only? Did they actually create a permanent billboard to go up just for the day we happen to be there? Of course not, but to every other visitor the message is that the deal will be here only today, so they better act now. I’m not sure how many people realize the “today’s special” is on a permanent billboard.
So how is it they can do this so cheap? They give it away with the cost of a hotel room and it is only $10 for those not staying at the hotel (only if you buy today…or some future day). Competing parks charge at least $50 for the same features, and the competition doesn’t have as many rides.
While it was a good deal regardless, it wasn’t as good as it sounded. First off, the cheap rates attracted a lot of people; too many. The resort ensured they employed just enough people to make us wait 50 minutes for just about every ride, including the Go Karts. And this was on a Wednesday! They get us in with the “deal” and manage to disappoint. But only if you act today! The sense of urgency and potential to “miss out” gets us to act.
Urgency From the Media
The media is a master at getting us to act. This should not be surprising, since their being in business is dependent upon attracting viewers. Many investors tune in to obtain information. Yet, the media employs tactics, such as the sense of urgency, to get us to stay tuned. The media’s primary role is obtain and retain viewers, not to help investors reach their goals. Whether it is elevated voices, streaming tickers, stock quotations or panel discussions on what will move the markets next week, it is all about creating a sense of action, urgency and short-term thinking.
That sense of urgency influences us to make decisions based on short-term data or news. The idea that we may miss out can get us to act quickly, which in the investment realm often corresponds with poor choices.
Investing thoughtfully is about thinking, deliberating and taking time to ponder decisions. That can’t be done in a few minutes let alone a few hours. And so what if you “miss it”? Are your financial goals dependent on the timing of one stock? Usually it is short-term emotion that gets us to act hastily. The challenge is to overcome the innate desire to act on our emotions. Emotional investing feels good; disciplined investing is good.