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Pitchman Marketing Secrets Exposed — A Tribute To Billy Mays

ve never done this before. But I'm posting here to the blog my section of last month's Newton Network Newsletter. In it I wrote about marketing lessons learned from Billy Mays and Pitchmen. This was written before Billy passed away. I really admire Billy for all he accomplished and what he did for the credibility and visibility of our industry. I'm posting this here as a small tribute to Billy. I've also create a PDF of this so you can download it, print it or send it to others. Enjoy. -------

If you didn’t recognize my headline you must be a hermit living in a cave or you’re hard of hearing... no... deaf. Even the hard of hearing can still hear Billy Mays blast his famous opening line. He’s loud. Hummmm... where have I heard that before?? Oh yeah, I’m loud. I think Billy and I are alike in many ways. We’re both loud and passionate and love to pitch. They don’t call me the P.T. Barnum of Twitter for nothing, you know. Plus, we both also have a straight-laced partner we love to drive crazy with our outrageous, unpredictable and eccentric antics. I’ve been loud and opinionated about the things I’m passionate about my whole life. It’s who I am. I get very excited and when I get excited, I get loud and animated. I come from a New York, Italian family and we’re all pretty loud... but I get the real volume from my mom. She’s loud too and when we get together we get accused of yelling at each other. In reality we’re not yelling, we’re just having a normal conversation and we’re excited. I’m honestly surprised no one has ever called the cops on us for disturbing the peace or noise pollution. You don’t want to be around when we’re actually arguing... It’s not pretty... And requires earplugs. Billy considered his voice his secret weapon. I conside mine a weapon of mass promotion and neither of us would know what to do with ourselves if we didn’t have it. It’s a God-given gift that can’t be ignored... literally. Billy’s trademark bellow was developed on the planks of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk barking at passersby. Billy says, “If you can sell on the boardwalk, you can sell anywhere.” He’s right on, that kind of in your face busking is the real deal sales training like no other. It’s instant testing and measuring on what works and what doesn’t minute by minute. That’s how these pitchmen can hone everything from their script to their hand gestures and do it exactly the same way every time. That’s powerful because they can predict how much money they’ll generate too. I developed my chops in a similar fashion to Billy, drawing a crowd for my magic shows, pitching puppets to busy shoppers at mall kiosks and being a barker at trade show booths with my ventriloquist dummy Joe Cappuccino. Not to mention just trying to get a word in around my mom! You might be asking yourself what all the Billy Mays talk is about. It’s actually relevant because I’m going to pull some powerful ideas from Billy and the infomercial industry and share some of their little known secrets of persuasion and mass control with you. My goal is to mine the immediately actionable strategies these incredible and mysterious pitchmen use to influence and motivate so many people to buy what they have to sell on a daily basis and translate these concepts into simple language, usable ideas and immediate action steps you can use to grow your business right away. This is the kind of information you so desperately need right now. It’s the kind of information, high-level thinking and instantly actionable ideas–that we deliver every single month in this newsletter. This kind of information is imperative to your success in the current economic conditions. Don’t think for a second things are going to get sweet and easy anytime soon. They aren’t. Things will get worse before they get better and you need to be prepared to muscle through it with smart strategies and innovative marketing ideas... the good news is that both are in large supply in this newsletter and when you’re plugged into Jim and Travis as a devoted Gravitational Marketing Maniac. You should feel proud, you’re in the right place and you’re plugged in and aligned with a group of smart entrepreneurs who are suiting up with armored underwear and making themselves recession-proof. It only comes from implementing the little-known, contrarian but proven marketing information we teach here through Gravitational Marketing. Unplugging is foolish and isn’t an option if success is your true desire. Our marketing maniacs are having record months and finding new opportunities for profit and success in their business by capitalizing on the opportunities being created right now and are drinking Champaign when all others are drinking stagnant hooch from a card board box. It’s OK, you’ve worked hard. You deserve it. Now relax and let’s get rich together now while everyone else is dumbstruck by fear, doubt and uncertainty. I don’t know about you, but my vision and goals aren’t uncertain. I want to kick butt, get rich and have a business and life that are ESP – Enjoyable, Simple and Prosperous regardless of what’s going on in someone else’s economy and what others believe is possible. I’m creating an economic outlook that’s trending up. How about you? Are you with me?

The Cliff Hanger

Did you catch my tease at the end of last month’s newsletter? I mentioned that Pitchmen is my new favorite show. It’s a reality show that stars Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan. Together, these two pitch pros evaluate products submitted by inventors, pick ones they think will be infomercial winners and then create a “show” (two minute, direct response commercial) to test the product. They air the “show” on a test budget and media schedule. If the show proves profitable they ramp up the dollars they invest in the project... more media gets placed and more money comes rolling in. Voila, a cash machine. This is exactly how all entrepreneurs should be conducting their marketing efforts. New ideas, products and services should be evaluated and then rolled out with a test budget and media schedule. If the market responds favorably then you can put more money into your marketing and scale the results. In reality the infomercial business is not really about selling products from commercials like it used to be when the industry was unregulated and late night media was cheap. Nowadays, the whole business is really about pushing retail stores to pick up the product and driving retail awareness and sales through the commercials and at least break even on the media and show expense. With a minimum of a 5x markup it is possible to make a front-end profit. I’ve been doing a lot research on this topic recently. I’ve read a bunch of different articles about Anthony and Billy that have come out due to the new show. I’m including one of the articles with this newsletter because I think it makes some extremely important and relevant points.

How To Know If Your Product Or Service Is Pitch-Worthy

In the show Pitchmen, they are constantly hammering the key points that make for a good direct response product. Now even though you’re not trying to sell your product or service from start to finish in a two-minute infomercial some of the points still have merit for any business, selling anything.

Is Your Product Or Service Highly Demonstrable?

This is an interesting question when taken away from the infomercial scene and brought into our reality. As business owners and entrepreneurs, I don’t think we typically ask ourselves this question about our products and services. But let’s do that for a second. Is YOUR product or service easy to explain or demonstrate? Can you show concrete results that are so compelling when someone sees them they say WOW and instantly understand what your product or service can do for them? When they see the result does it create in them an eager want to achieve that same result? If not, maybe you’re not presenting your product or service the best way possible. Sometimes just changing the words we use or the way we explain or show how our product or service works and what it delivers can make a world of difference. When I was in college, I bought my first information/personal development product. It was a set of sales training tapes by Brian Tracy and I bought them from Nightingale Conant. The one thing that really stuck out in my head from those tapes was a story that Brian told about a salesman demonstrating his product. The product was a safety glass or lens and the sales person took it out, put it on the prospect’s desk, took out a hammer and slammed it down right on the glass. That’s a Billy Mays quality demonstration.

Billy does a couple of very visual and powerful demos in this spot for Mighty Mendit.

That never left me. The power of an impactful demonstration is enormous. I also remember the story of a woman who lost a ton of weight. Because of her results, she started selling for the company. She was passionate about the product and an advocate for the company. To demonstrate her results, she had a before picture of herself blown up to poster size. When she would pitch her product she would unroll the picture and hold it up next to herself and say, “This was me 167 pounds ago before I started on XXXX. Look at me now.” That’s a demonstration that can’t be denied or ignored. Let’s take a personal trainer as an example. In a recent Facebook chat with Gravitational Marketing Maniac and Newton Network member Ernie Boxall from Nuneaton, United Kingdom, Ernie told me how he used what he learned from Gravitational Marketing to make his product more demonstrable when we was out networking and giving his 30-second elevator pitch. (My comments are in italics). “Jimmy, great to get your heads up...basically what we start with here is a 60-year-old, naturally chubby guy with very thinning hair, poor eyesight and a dodgy knee, vying with strapping, younger muscular personal trainers to work in corporate wellbeing market... no contest right. “So, having read Gravitational Marketing, I wanted to use your ideas and make my networking (his pitch) memorable. I begin in a deep squat position to introduce myself by asking the group members to “Spend Time With Me And Change The Way You Look At Exercise”--- I then throw my feet up behind me onto a chair, begin doing press ups (push ups to those of us in the states) and ask the members whether they ‘Believe that at 60 years of age they will feel well enough to be able to do what I’m doing now.’ “I stretch down to place my hands under my feet and tell the members that by spending 6 weeks with me they will ‘Discover renewed energy, feel the power of relaxed breathing and the regeneration of joint mobility, through the Balance Health and Fitness Wellbeing Programme.’ Finally I ask them to visit my web site or call me to receive a free wellbeing questionnaire and report. It certainly gets attention Jimmy and even if the members tell me that they don’t want to do squats and press ups I can talk about my tai chi and shiatsu work...You and Travis are my passport to American citizenship. Ernie can make this presentation even better with a few tweaks. Instead of sending people to his web site he should collect the information right there so he can begin a relationship and foster ongoing communication. A simple way to do this would be after his powerful demonstration, he could offer everyone in the room a special report. Something like, “9 ways To Boost Your Energy and Live A Longer, Fuller Life In just 3 Days. Along with a personal one-on-one fitness and wellbeing evaluation. A $97 dollar value absolutely free.” Ernie could collect their business cards or name, full address and email. Then mail then the report with a letter that he’ll be calling them in a couple of days for the person fitness and well being evaluation he promised them. Then call them a few days later, ask them some qualifying questions and sell them his program. He could add email contact as well to strengthen the relationship and video to put the icing on the cake and blow them away. Don’t think you can’t write a report. The report doesn’t have to be much more than a couple pages. Just like nine little things someone can do at home to boost their energy levels and feel better. You could video record yourself delivering the nine things as well and send them nine little video clips that educates them and actually demonstrates the process. Giving value before the sale, building the relationship and being an expert and a sales system... all right there. Simple.

A Mighty Demonstration

There are many ways to demonstrate even the most mundane products and services if you just think about it with a fresh set of eyes. Your demonstration may not ever be as powerful as pulling an eighteen-wheeler with a chain attached to the bumper with Mighty Putty but it doesn’t have to be.

Here's Billy's Mighty Putty Demo.

If you’re using Gravitational Marketing correctly, you’re initiating relationships, using automatic follow-up methods to build trust and rapport, positioning yourself as an expert and trusted advisor and delivering massive value before you’re asking people to buy. This allows you to show your personality, gets your prospects to know, like and trust you and give you a chance to tell your entire sales story. With that in place you don’t need an OxiClean, stains-magically-disappear type of demonstration but having a powerful way to demonstrate your product would still be extremely valuable. A way to create powerful demonstrations is through testimonials and case studies from past clients especially when combined with video. And because we’re live and not on TV, we can use sampling and information to help us demonstrate our wares...two highly potent opportunities which are dramatically under used. Our infamous Orange jumpsuits (which you’ll see make an appearance in our upcoming show for – more on that in a minute) matching suits and ties, shtick and business cards are all ways we demonstrate our services.

Here Billy and Anthony talk about the power of demonstration.

Is Your Product Or Service New Or Unique?

This doesn’t mean that your product or service has to be one-of-a-kind or you’re sunk. That’s not it at all. In fact, in both the infomercial world and our world, you don’t want to invent a category. That’s a recipe for a lot of hard work and heartache. You want to be in a hungry market but you also want your product or service to deliver something that seems new, fresh or different. Remember my life’s mantra... SAME IS LAME! What I’m talking about here is that your product/service must create a buying preference. Why would someone choose your widget over all the other widgets available in the market? Out of the thousands of other options, why would someone choose you? This is an extremely important question to answer if you’re ever going to create effective marketing and find enormous success. Sadly most entrepreneurs think that saying you have a good product, service and selection and that you’ve been in business for a long time is enough. It’s NOT! Here’s a list of things that can make your product or service seem new and unique.
  • Create a special process or method
  • Create a unique design for your product
  • Look, feel, materials
  • Product features
  • Your personality
  • Your positioning
  • Narrow your target
  • Create a guarantee

Does Your Product Or Service Solve A Common Problem?

If your product/service doesn’t solve problems it’s not really going to sell. In the infomercial business they are looking for the products they sell to solve problems that are common to millions of people. In your case it doesn’t have to have that broad appeal. But it does have to solve a common, nagging problem your potential customers face. The more painful the problem or the more you can agitate that pain, the more you will be able to sell.
  • Your product/service needs to do one or a combination of these things:
  • Remove burden, discomfort or pain
  • Help your prospects achieve something they desire
  • Save them time
  • Save them money
Think through this list and figure out specifically what your product/service does for your prospects. Then think about how they voice their problems and craft a compelling message in their language that shows how your product/service can solve their problem. Don’t forget the demonstration we talked about. Add one of those and you got the makings of a real winner on your hands. In a minute I’ll show you how to knock it out of the park but first a word about prevention. Prevention is tough to sell because it’s hard to demonstrate and nobody wants to think about what could happen to them. In the infomercial biz they steer clear of prevention products. They don’t sell pain or headache prevention... they sell a remedy. It’s because the people with the pain are the buyers. The people who don’t have the pain don’t care and most likely aren’t paying attention. If you’re selling prevention you have to create a problem first and then solve it with the prevention. In this case your main G-Force is going to be fear. You have to create fear of what would happen if they don’t prevent the problem. Then sell against that fear you manufactured.

Billy and Sully on The Tonight Show with Conan. This was Billy & Sully's last appearance together.

Does Your Product Or Service Have High Perceived Value?

We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, right now more than ever... people are looking for two things... confidence and value. You must give them both if you want to get them to whip out their wallets and buy. Creating products/services that have high-perceived value is a huge part of your recession success formula. If you can package your products/services in such a way that they have high perceived value and make the cost/value comparison seem lopsided in your customers’ favor your selling job will become much easier. Solving problems, being an expert, being for someone specifically, saving time, saving money, being someone they feel like they have a relationships with (a friend), throwing in some bonuses and adding a guarantee are all things you can do to help raise the perceived value your product/service delivers to your customer immediately with out adding any additional cost. Don’t think you can’t do this. You can and you should. You better re-read that last paragraph. There’s a lot there and huge lessons just went by in a flash. Sorry no time to expand on those now. This issue is packed to the gills. A warning. Adding value without telling your prospects or customers doesn’t do you any good. Imagine if they threw in two ShamWOW cloths but didn’t tell you in the commercial they were going to do it. Sure you would be happy about it when you got the package... but it didn’t help push you over the edge and make the sale happen. You have to tell your prospects and customers about the value you’re providing. Help them see it all and grasp the robustness of the offer you’re making. Show them the value you’re providing and how little you’re asking in contrast. In our book, Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers we talk about the Woodchopper metaphor for delivering value and this is exactly what happens very quickly in an infomercial. Picture a woodchopper cutting wood and piling it piece-by-piece into his assistant’s arms. Each piece of wood represents something of value you’re throwing into the transaction. If the woodchopper continues to throw on logs, eventually the assistant will collapse under the weight of all the wood. The same thing happens with your prospects. As you keep throwing on value, eventually they crack and collapse under the value of your offer and buy. In an infomercial this happens as they pile on bonus gizmos and gadgets and ultimately they try and crack you with the trusted, “call now and we’ll double the offer.”

Human Growth Hormone For Your Business

OK, now you know the four big secrets of how to make your product and service more desirable to your prospects and customers using secret strategies borrowed from underground pitchmen. But what if I told you there was a way to turbo charge all these strategies and make them 100 times more potent? Well, there is and I’ll share it with you now. Here it is... video and social media. You heard me. Video combined with social media is the thing that right now can turbo-charge these strategies, your marketing and your success. It works because using video consistently can position you as an expert, allow you to create a high-perceived value by giving first and really fast track your relationship with prospects and customers. The social media element allows you to disseminate your message and your video to a lot of people very quickly. It also creates an instant feedback loop (just like Billy had on the boardwalk) and cements the relationship you’ve created and moves it from stranger/seller to friend/friend at warp speed. The problem is that using social media and video can be a huge pain in the butt and an enormous waste of time, energy and dollars if you don’t use it correctly. You need a plan to follow. In just a few shorts weeks we’ll be releasing a proven and tested plan that you can follow to create massive success with the potent combo of video and social media. We’ll show you step-by-step and move-by-move what to do and how to do it and exactly what you should do every single day to market your business using these new and powerful tools. The other thing I can say about this at the moment (because it’s all still underground) is that it’s awesome and you’re gonna want to get your hot little hands on this before it’s too late. It’s the only step-by-step plan for social media and video out there and the results it’s been generating for entrepreneurs around the country are sick!! Well folks that’s it. So... Vee Out. Oh, and Stay Classy!  

We'll Miss You Billy