This is a fairly long guest article, but he points out some very good tactical lessons from Rush Limbaugh’s success. The author works in the sales and marketing of alternative medicine.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Peter F. Drucker
The Secret to Making a Billion Dollars Without Offering a Single Benefit
By Clayton Makepeace
Love him or hate him, you have to admit it. Rush Limbaugh is a phenomenon.
He doesn’t promise riches, better health, and social status, to ease your workload, or get you dates.
In fact, he never offers anyone one single benefit or presents a single “Reason Why” listening to him or reading him will improve your life in any way.
And yet, 20 million Americans religiously tune into his radio broadcasts. Hundreds of thousands subscribe to his newsletter. And masses rush to bookstores and snap up every book he writes.
In short, Limbaugh has broken every “rule” of effective marketing. And he’s become a billionaire (or darned close to it)!
How does he do it?
A year or so ago, he himself gave us the answer in his newsletter:
“The first year of my radio program callers would tell me how thrilled they were that there was finally somebody in the national media who expressed what they believed.
“For decades, conservatives had seen their values laughed at, impugned, run down. My radio program validated thinking that existed all over America….”
Put simply, Limbaugh makes millions because he offers his followers something they value more than money: Validation. And the emotional release it brings with it.
Until they discovered Mr. Limbaugh, his devotees were frustrated with politicians, the media, and the direction in which they felt our culture was headed.
But they had no voice. No power to change things. And, worst of all, no outlet for their frustration and anger.
The Astonishing Power of Powerlessness
Nearly all of us feel powerless at some time or another. That powerlessness causes frustration and even anger to well up. And unless we find an outlet for those negative emotions, they gnaw away at us.
Psychiatrists have long known that the feeling that we are not in control of things that directly impact our lives is a major cause of both aggressive behavior and depression.
And medical studies have even linked the frustration, anger, and rage that powerlessness causes with weakened immune response and frequent physical illness.
That’s where Limbaugh comes in. He understands that millions of conservative Americans disagree with and are worried about the direction our government and/or society are taking — and feel powerless to “make things right.”
And his magic is in providing a much-needed OUTLET for those pent-up negative feelings.
- By acknowledging his audience’s deepest and most intense emotions, he validates them.
- By expressing their feelings in ways that get heads nodding and listeners laughing, he gives his followers desperately needed emotional release.
- And his followers reward him handsomely by buying just about everything the man produces or plugs!
In short, like any good businessperson, Limbaugh provides a product that brings value to people’s lives and that they’re willing to pay for.
And although his product is both invisible and intangible, the emotional release he delivers is worth far more to his followers than the money they pay to get it!
Four Steps to Breakthrough Bliss
Creating a sales message that harnesses this powerful technique is as easy as 1-2-3-4.
1. Identify the enemy — and make it personal!
No matter what you sell, there’s somebody out there in the same, a similar, or a competing field who’s doing your prospect wrong.
In alternative health, it’s probably dimwitted mainstream doctors and drug company fat cats.
In the investment field, it could be greedy brokers, idiotic self-appointed experts, and “talking heads” on TV shows.
In the personal finance field, it could be money-hungry bankers, heartless tax collectors, and everyone else who assumes that your money is really their money.
What enemy is making YOUR prospects feel powerless, insulted, frustrated, and angry?
Whoever it is, personalize the enemy. It’s not half as much fun lampooning hospitals, drug companies, banks, and the IRS as it is skinning the jerks who run them!
2. Identify the things “the enemy” does that frustrate or anger your prospect, insult his intelligence, or render him powerless.
Does the enemy hide important information from your prospect? Does he lie to him outright? Does he treat your prospect as if he’s a dunce?
Is he arrogant and self-important — an authority figure just begging to be brought down a couple of pegs? Is he a sneak thief who nickels and dimes your prospect half to death?
List as many offenses as you possibly can.
3. Pinpoint how YOU feel about these kinds of people — and how you would feel if someone did these things to you.
Then express those feelings more articulately and with greater emotional power than your prospect possibly could.
4. Position your figurehead and his product as being the solution to the negative things the enemy does AND the balm that soothes the negative emotions your prospect has about them!
Make your author righteously indignant. And explain why he is absolutely livid about the way the prospect is being treated.
Say everything your prospect would just LOVE to tell the enemy. If you feel it’s appropriate, call him names.
In a promotion based on the Vioxx scandal, I had a sidebar with the headline: Modern-Day Murder-for-Hire Ring BUSTED!
Beneath that headline, I had pictures of the CEOs of Merck and Pfizer. Then the story (taken from The Wall Street Journal) about how they knew all along that Vioxx, Bextra, and Celebrex would kill people, but promoted them anyway just to make a fast buck.
Now I am NOT suggesting that you accuse your competitor of murder — or say anything else that might get you sued for libel.
But to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in the pursuit of your prospect’s well-being is no vice.”