Sunday, March 23, 2008

Selling the Sizzle, Not the Steak

Well I found it! I've been in Vegas this past week spending the money!

I wish.

But I have excavated a couple more pieces of the puzzle. And I am even more convinced than last week that a new big picture exists of which those pieces are a piece.

That's not quite true: it doesn't appear to be new, actually. I can't quite put my finger on it just yet, but it is starting to smell like something Melvin Powers used to do. I remember old Melvin Powers, the self-promoted "King of Mailorder." I mean, this guy would promote anything! I think he cranked out a new book of some kind or other every 72 hours or so. I swear!

He was the kind of guy who would run classified ads in 100 little newspapers for 10-cent bars of soap, and then, when the orders started to flow in, he would go out and start looking for some soap maker to sell him soap for a nickel a bar. Anyway, one of the things this guy promoted was books about how to do various things, and music (for some reason he was into hawking sheet music.) He would talk these middle-aged singers (who had used to be popular but hadn't been for years) into recording some of his stuff and going 50-50 with him on any profits. (Melvin really fancied himself an actual song-writer.)

The point that I need you to glean from this turns out to be one of the pieces of that big picture I was talking about earlier. That point, that the old hustler Melvin Powers teaches us, is this: It doesn't, within reason, really matter what the product is. All that really matters is the proper promotion of that product.

If you are an American with a few years under your belt, you will recall the incessant TV commercials of trinket-inventor Ron Popeil. You know--the Ronco Veg-O-matic, and the Ronco this and the Ronco that. And then came the age of TV "infomercials"--long commercials. And when he had run Ronco into the ground, then came the Popeil this and the Popeil that. Ok, maybe you are too young to remember.

Dan Ackroyd of the original Saturday Night Live crew in the late 1970s did a skit which entailed grinding up fish on live TV. That was a parody of Ron Popeil's ubiquitous TV commercial, and of the way Ron talked. (Actually, Ron didn't talk like that; it was an announcer. Ron himself didn't talk like that at all.) Dan did that carnival barker voice perfectly in that famous skit.

This post is getting too long to hold your attention, so I am going to come back and finish the thought in a few days. Just keep the first point I am trying to make in the back of your minds: it's not really the product that's of greatest importance; it's the proper promotion of that product that makes money.

Think I'm crazy? Then while I'm gone, ponder Britney Spears. Yes, Britney Spears. Helluva fantastic singer, right? That voice deserves to rise to the top, right? Sheesh! No, people. What makes the money is product promotion.

Something else to chew on: How even cooler would it be if the product you are uber-promoting is also itself something of great value? What a thought!


Aerten said...

I don't know why you say this site is less interesting than your other, Max. I remember Ron Popeil. My favorite (not that I ever wanted one, mind you) was the Popeil Pocket Fisherman. My brothers wanted them, but where were they going to fish? In the Chicago River? I don't think so.

I'll have to see what else you have to say here. You have a lot more ads, that's for sure. Yessy is an interesting place, though I've yet to try selling there. Some of my artist friends have accounts, though.

Relax Max said...

I will never underestimate the depth and breadth of your curiosity or subject range again. *big grin*

I only meant to say it was unlikely it would appeal to the same people that, know.

Aerten said...

Hmmm... you know, I should probably just post in all my profiles "I Live To Learn." People would still underestimate me, of course... but fewer people. I would hope.

Oh, and my life mission is to mess with as many minds as possible. heh heh heh

Relax Max said...

Well, speaking for mice elf, I have been looking at you with even greater awe lately. You truly amaze me.

I do too: I especially like to stop by all those entrecard diet sites and leave comments describing in great detail the banana split I just had. :)