How To Explain Trading To A Spokesmodel

Back in the 70’s when I was touring with KISS, one night Paul Stanley pulled me aside backstage and told me something he had learned from years on the road….

Brian, let me tell ya sumthing.  Everybody likes to Rock n’ Roll. Awwwwyeaaaahhh…..!!!!

It’s true.  They do.

And another thing that people like, or that traders like, or at least male traders like, or actually just any males like, are spokesmodels.

You know who I am talking about.  The lovely young ladies who pose and sometimes talk at the booths of trades shows and conventions. Often they are actually pretty well-informed on whatever product they are representing, but most of the time they are just there to be pleasant and to attract customers.  Rarely do I assume that they know anything about trading.

Last week I was out at the Trader’s Expo in Vegas helping to work the show with the crew from Ditto Trade, when one of the guys suggested we hire a “spokesmodel” for the booth to help attract customers.

I was a little leery of the idea, as it seemed a bit cheesy.  Plus, where the hell do you find a spokesmodel in the middle of the week on short notice?  (Craig’s list Las Vegas it turns out).

However, a lot of the other booths were doing the same thing, and the point of being at a trade show, in addition to promoting your brand, is to get potential customers.

At the Trader’s Expo they make that real easy. Every attendee has to have a badge with a bar code that contains all their contact information, and you just take your hand-held RFID device and scan their badge in order to put them in your database. Seems easy, right?

Yet a lot of the attendees were standoffish when it came to scanning, probably worried that they would be hit non-stop every day with marketing materials.  I get it, but that’s not how we operate.  Nobody forces anybody to have their badge scanned, but if they allow it, we see that as giving us the “green light” to at least contact them occasionally about the magical and fantastical products we have to offer them?

So we put out the call and were immediately deluged with numerous aspiring Vanna Whites’. The winner, though not selected by me, was Karla Jayne.

Vanna White, the original spokesmodel.

Despite having a name that sounded somewhat like an 80’s porn actress, Karla was a very nice young girl.  Clever, funny, professional, she had the whole package.  But more importantly, the percentage of show attendees that wanted their badges scanned increased dramatically. Like to 100%.

Still, I was worried about her knowledge of the markets, or better put, her lack of knowledge of the markets.  I didn’t want her to get cornered by a potential customer asking trading questions and have her come off sounding like a, uh….well…..a spokesmodel.

I decided that if she was going to stay in our booth I would have to give her a quick overview of the trading game.  Just enough info to keep the customer engaged before she turned him over to one of the company guys.

I was just about to start the process, when she walked over to me and said, “so what’s that up there?” pointing to the trading platform.

“Those?  Those are the different stocks that you can trade at our brokerage,” I replied.

“Oh, the stock market,” she continued.  “I heard about the stock market crashing,” she said with a pause and a waiting look.

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself.  Which crash would this twenty year old be referring to? The recent drop in the markets?  Nah, that wasn’t a crash and hadn’t been on the TV enough for a non-trader like her to notice.

Perhaps it was the “Flash Crash” of a few years ago that she was talking about?  Too “inside baseball” I figured, and ruled it out.

Maybe the fall of the 2008 markets was what she was thinking of?  But she had said “crash” and 2008 was more of a meltdown than a crash.

I went with the 87′ crash.

“Yeah there was a day in 1987 when the market dropped 23% in one day,” I said, trying to sound both sage-like and hip at the same time, but the there was no crack in her “waiting look” so I continued on….

“….and of course there was a huge crash in 1929…”

Still no facial change.

“….which was the start of the ‘Great Depression’,” I continued.

Still nothing.

“….and it was so bad that people jumped out of buildings.”

“THAT’S IT..!!!,” she said.  “I remember reading about people jumping out of buildings.”

Okay.  So her only real reference about the markets was people jumping to their death’s over eighty years ago.  This should be interesting.

8 out of 10 spokesmodels surveyed relate closest to the 1929 stock market crash.

There was a time when the insecure, “A-hole Brian” would have taken this opportunity to act intellectually superior to a woman whom the awkwardly retarded twenty year old Brian would have been too intimidated to even approach. But I have evolved.  I am “Brian 6.0” now.

Instead I thought I would try to tell her about the markets in the ways I thought she would best understand them and I went right into my patented, “How To Explain Short Selling To Your Mother” bit.

“Who is your favorite band,” I said.

“Evenescence,” she replied.

“Okay,” I began.  “Let’s say your friend just got a brand new copy of the Evenescence CD in the mail…….blah, blah, blah.”  I figured let’s go for the hardest thing for most people to understand about trading; if she gets that, then it’s all down hill.

She got it.  Not right away, but with a bit more coaxing she understood it as quick as any “civilian” I had ever explained it to.

“Okay, well how do they decide what price each stock costs,” she asked.

It’s all supply and demand,” I answered.  “Let’s say they need eight spokesmodels to work the Insurance Adjusters of America trade show, and there are only five available. The demand outweighs the supply and thus the models can charge more.  But if suddenly a rogue band of Swedish spokesmodels parachuted into the pool area of Caesar’s, the supply would go up drastically, and the fee for each model would drop.

“Ah, got it!  But how do you know what stocks watch to see it they go up in value.”

And thus we went into sector analysis.

“Are you familiar with $COH brand purses,” I asked with nary a bit of guilt over the blatant sexism of the question.  I mean c’mon, she was spokesmodel after all.

“Oh yes, I love their bags,” which led perfectly into an explanation of the retail “sector,” the companies that make it up, and how other sectors are built around energy, technology, finance, and so on.

Finally she asked, “so if I know that $AAPL is going to come out with an Iphone 5, I should probably buy the stock because it will sell a lot of phones, right?”

“Well, it’s not that simple, let me explain it like this,” I started.

“Say you are about to turn twenty, and your boyfriend throws you a surprise party. You are excited and feel good about it.  But then when your twenty-first birthday comes along you expect him to do the same thing.  Now, if he doesn’t, you may feel disappointed and leave him.  If he does and the party is just ‘meh,’ then you may hang around but not feel very sure of the situation.”

“But what if he blows it out of the water with the best party you have ever had, something totally unexpected?  Then you would love him even more and probably stay around at least until you see what he does for the next birthday.”

“It’s all about meeting expectations,” she said. “If you are already expecting something and it doesn’t happen or happens like you thought, you are not to excited and may sell the stock. But if something happens beyond what you expect; a surprise, then you might may hang around by buying more stock.”

“Everybody knows $AAPL will sell a lot of Iphone 5’s,” she continued. “So the stock may not go up much more.”

I felt like a proud parent and a small little trader tear rolled down my cheek.

“Exactly,” I said.

Karla worked the rest of the show for us and did a great job.  Even though she picked up enough basics on trading, I shouldn’t have been too worried even if she didn’t. The attendees (at least the men) were too starry-eyed talking to her to care if she had said something wrong, and she was too smart and comfortable in her spokesmodel role to have made any gaffes.

By the way, Karla is also a singer and multi-instrumentalist and you can check her YouTube videos out here.

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Brian C. Lund

Brian C. Lund

Great father. Good friend. Decent trader/writer. Lacking husband. Solid drummer. Sometimes funny. Often A-hole. Terrible poker player. Too smart. Punk rock. Work in an ice cream shop.

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