Marketing Bootcamp

A Rant Could Be Your Best Sales Pitch

I got an email from Eric Hauk, president of Bodacion Technologies in Barrington, Illinois. Before I relate his story, let me explain.

Eric’s company makes “hack proof” web servers that do not have any of the usual security holes that Windows, Linux, and Unix machines have.

We’d just done a fast start phone consultation, and the strategy I outlined for him was to become a relentless, remorseless publisher and publicist of all of the vulnerabilities of typical server software. Every month he should crank out more reports about seven, seventeen or a hundred ways hackers can and will (or already did) wreak havoc in your business. White papers, special advisories, magazine articles, seminars -- you name it.

The neat part is, he doesn’t have to fix Windows or Linux. He’s got the miracle cure -- his bulletproof server. He can rant about the other guys’ security issues until the next millennium. He can shoot holes in the other guys all day long. Do that and he’s got a natural audience.

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Create missionaries.

OK, so anyway, Eric sent me an email today, explaining how when he speaks at a conference, 15 percent of the people in the audience ask him for copies of his presentation so they can become the security expert inside their company. One guy sat there listening to his talk and decided it was about time to go back into the security business. He asked Eric to send him all the information he could on network security issues.

So what’s going on here is that Eric has a convert. And pay close attention, because a lot of times what gets a new technology over the top is when it attracts converts and "missionaries" who reject the status quo and multiply the message. A form of viral marketing, really. That’s how Linux got to be where it is today.

Another thing Eric has in his favor -- something that you should always be on the lookout for -- is the fact that network security is an extremely emotional issue. Lemme tell ya, if someone hacks into your company and swipes 4000 credit card numbers tomorrow, it’s going to be worse than bowel surgery in the woods with a stick.

Suddenly your “security budget” is going to go from $50 per year to unlimited.


Also note that there are two distinctly different buying modes for this and most other things, depending on the circumstances:

1. Preventing problems before they happen
2. Curing problems after they happen

You’ll always make more money, with less pain, by selling a cure rather than a preventative measure. It always takes pain and suffering for money to change hands. If your customer is experiencing the pain, then you don’t have to. If your customer is experiencing no pain, then you will experience all of the pain in the transaction.

If you don’t believe me, then compare your medical insurance bill to your herb, vitamin and exercise bill. Just about every city in America has emergency 911 service, but how many towns have a cholesterol reduction hotline?

Or let’s talk about your computer. When did you start backing up your data? Before your hard drive crashed, or afterwards? When did you get anti-virus software? Before you sent the KLEZ virus to 144 of your closest friends, or after?

Goodness, virtue and prevention are hard to sell.

In the late ‘80s, an infomercial was shot for a product that everybody should have. The product being advertised was a video designed to help parents talk to their teenagers about drugs.

It was such an altruistic, appealing project that everyone wanted to help with it. It was hosted by Nancy Reagan; there were dozens of prominent Hollywood stars on the cast; the production values were outstanding and it was nothing less than a beautifully produced, impressive and inspiring infomercial about making America a better place for kids.

This thing was the advertising equivalent of the Milk of Human Kindness. The company behind this infomercial, Guthy-Renker, was so proud of themselves, they were almost busting their buttons. They bought the airtime and ran the show.

Guess how many orders they got?


Absolutely none. The phones were silent. At first they thought there was a phone problem, but when they dialed the number, sure enough, it was working. Nobody wanted to buy a video about talking to their kids about drugs. And they especially didn’t want to sit their teenager down on the sofa, pop in the video, show it to them and have a discussion about it.

Nancy Regan couldn’t convince ‘em, Hollywood couldn’t convince them, and a team of professional copywriters couldn’t convince ‘em. Why?

Because it was prevention, not cure. It was entirely too easy for the viewer, who was not in pain, to think I’m going to mention this to Fred and Doris, because their son Todd is waaaay out of control. Of course, my kids would never take drugs. Besides, it would be a pretty awkward conversation if I implied that I don’t trust my little Missy to do the right thing when she’s at school.

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Chicken soup for the dysfunctional, lust-infested drug addict’s soul.

It’s hard to sell virtue and goodness in and of itself. That’s why there’s such a drastic difference between non-profit businesses and for-profit businesses. It’s why there are so many novels about murder, mayhem, lust, betrayal and hell, and so few about goodness, hope, utopia and heaven.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way degrading the goodness of prevention. I’m just telling you that if you want to sell it, it’s much better to sell it as part of a cure than talking to someone who’s never had the problem in the first place.

Copywriter John Carlton has this running debate with Joe Polish, who you could describe as ‘the Perry Marshall of the carpet cleaning industry.’ Joe runs ads about carpet mites in your rugs and pillows, but John insists that however hard you try to sell the fact that you can kill carpet mites and take toxins and allergens out of your house, the real reason that Suzy Jones calls a carpet cleaner is that she’s got company coming over and she doesn’t want her friends to see the spot where little Jeffrey puked.

In other words, Suzy’s going to have the carpet cleaned before the party, not after. After would be prevention. Before is cure.

I’ve got my own perpetual rant, implicit in my Unique Selling Proposition. There’s two versions of it. One is the rant about small business owners having no marketing system in place, and all the problems that result from their lack of “deal flow.”

The other rant is the salesperson’s version of the same thing. It’s when the marketing system is the blood, sweat, tears, cold calls and shoe leather of a commissioned sales person.

Both of my rants are extremely effective in bringing me the results I’m after… because I offer the cure.

How about you? Do you have a rant? What ailment does your product/service cure?

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