I had lunch with this dude I know yesterday, he's running a company that helps chronic insomniacs get back to sleep - but without using drugs. They've packaged a load of proper CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, not Cock and Ball Torture, Gaydar fans) with a load of modern jiggery-pokery like iPhone apps and online sleep diaries. The clinical trials show what he's doing to be extremely effective, which is not surprising given that it's the NHS prescribed therapy for insomnia, but getting people to pay for it takes a bit of doing. The problem is that he's not selling a tangible thing.
This is a really modern problem.
Over the last hundred years you and I have spent our working lives trying to convince people that objects will make them happy. Physical things that they can run their hands over, line up in rows, fill shelves or rails with, polish and clean and otherwise interact with on thoroughly tangible level.
You might remember this exchange from Jurassic Park, which, sadly I can't find on the interwebs as a video. Geoff Goldblum's character warning the kid off his Buffallo Bill nightvision goggles:
Donald Gennaro: Hey, where'd you find that?
Tim: In a box under my seat.
Donald Gennaro: Are they heavy?
Donald Gennaro: Then they're expensive, put 'em back.
Increasingly though things that aren't heavy, are, or should be, expensive. Things like information, music, books lose value as soon as they become digital, because they've lost their object.
There are lots of good arguments for why these things should cost money - but, importantly, they are arguments. Ironically argument the one thing that modern good advertising does not deign to engage in.
So basically, we all better get good at making Tajazzle infomercials.