Billy Mays, who sadly passed away this summer at age fifty, was a pot-bellied, black-bearded Atlantic City carnival barker in a blue long-sleeves over a white undershirt.
He had a loud, shrill, and annoyingly exuberant voice. And he seemed to lean forward, through the TV screen, and put his nose in your face, the way only pitchmen do.
Madison Avenue style brand marketers who believe asking for an order even once, unless it’s in small grey type, is undignified, contemptible and just plain bad manners, absolutely loathed him.
Direct marketers idolized him.
Consumers, well, they either loved or hated him… or were totally unaware of him (presumably Tivo owners).
Bottom line: Billy sold the hell out of stuff. And he didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to do it.
Billy bellied-up to bar with the TV viewer and spoke straight and to the point: you got a problem, I’ve got the solution, I can guarantee it or your money back, buy it now and I’ll make you an even better deal.
Inelegant to the max. But he sold and made millions. Not through artifice; there was no false imagery, cheating or stealing, just great showmanship and the secret behind great salesmanship.
The Secret Behind Great Salesmanship
But great salesmanship, contrary to popular opinion, is not about selling ice to Eskimos.
The truth is less flamboyant, and far more reasonable.
Simply put, behind every great salesman is a great product. And Billy Mays understood that better than most.
Because if it’s a great product—it was easy for Billy to sell, using salesmanship techniques he had honed over two decades of selling.
Who better than Billy Mays could grab your attention (Hi, Billy Mays here for…)… get you excited (So fast and easy…)… make you want to buy it (No more dings, dents or scratches—and it’ll save you money, too…)… and get you to buy it (But wait, order now and I’ll…)
So how do you know if the product you’re currently selling or developing is great… and easy to sell?
According to Billy Mays…
Your Product Must Have These 5 Essential Character Traits
1. It must solve a problem.
If it doesn’t fix, mend or alleviate a nagging pain, problem, condition or situation—why would people want it, much less buy it? There must be a strong, recognizable and somewhat measurable or appreciable benefit to owning and using your product.
2. It must have mass appeal.
You may have invented the best mousetrap ever, but if only one in ten million homes has a mouse problem… you’re not going to sell a heck of a lot of mouse traps. Sure, you can sell just a few at a ridiculously high price-point? But a mouse-trap priced at $50,000… how easy of a sale will that be?
3. It must be unique.
If it’s the first or only one of its kind—that’s a homerun! If it’s not, then it should at least be different and beneficial in a way that isn’t currently offered. A rose by any other name is still a rose—but a rose that never loses its petals, now that would be unique.
4. It must offer instant gratification.
If it’ll only be of use next spring, why buy it today? People don’t want to buy seeds. They want the fully grown tree, planted and providing shade now. We’re an impatient nation of consumers. We don’t want the fishing pole—we want the fish fresh, filleted, seasoned and served.
5. It must be demonstrable.
It’s a law of nature: seeing is believing. The customer must see with their own eyes how easily, quickly, and effectively your product does what it does. Though people will often say they can’t trust their eyes—they always do.
But wait, there’s more…
You Don’t Need TV Air-Time to be a Successful Marketer
A demonstration doesn’t have to be live or on TV to be effective. If you’re selling from a webpage, then diagrams, schematics, and before and after pictures will also do the trick.
And if you’re not limited to a 30-second or 1-minute TV spot… you might have a distinct advantage!
You can show why your product or service is superior to your competitors by creating tables.
You can provide testimonials, endorsements… and your own impressive credentials.
And as long as you know how to keep the reader reading—you can methodically, step-by-step, convince and persuade the reader to buy from you in a voice and style that’s compelling, empowering, believable and completely your own.
I’m sure that’s what Billy Mays would do. He’d begin every letter or ad with, “Hi, Billy Mays here for…”
Thanks, Billy. Rest in peace.