Posted by: brandextenders | May 29, 2012

But Wait, There’s More…

Long before the Internet and television, there was P.T. Barnum, arguably the greatest pitchman of all time who famously said, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”

In the 1950’s along came Ron Popiel of Ronco fame who brought us Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone and the Smokeless Ashtray along with the saying, “But wait, there’s more.” He honed his pitch technique at county fairs and in front of his hometown Woolworth’s selling products he found while giving a kickback to the store. So ubiquitous were his products that Dan Akroyd did a parody of his advertising style in the famous “Bass-O-Matic” bits on Saturday Night Live.

In more recent times the late Billy Mays, Vince “Schlomi” Offer (Sham Wow) and Anthony Sullivan (“Sticky Buddy”) have all made a tidy income pitching products they didn’t invent, but which have become fixtures of the late night television landscape.

So what makes a good pitchman or pitchwomen? Is this something you major in at college or are these people born salespeople? Here’s my take on what makes these people so good at what they do and why you can be as well.

  1. Believe in what you are selling: If you don’t like or use the products you’re selling, why do you think anyone else would buy them. Billy Mays saw thousands of products, but only pitched those he believed in and was confident people would be pleased with.
  2. Sell the benefits first and the features second: Which of these phrases gets you more interested? These knives are made of the finest steel forged in the hills of Pittsburgh (feature) or These knives never need sharpening (benefit)? The best pitchers innately sell the benefits of their products first with the features supporting the benefit.
  3. Everyone loves a deal. Deals don’t have to be smarmy and outrageous, but need to bring added value to the buyer. Buy this, get something extra for the same price. Do this today and you’ll get this added bonus.
  4. Limited time offer: It’s easy to procrastinate which is why the best pitchmen give a reason to buy now. This price expires in 24 hours, get double the quantity if you order now and free freight today only are all calls to action, a reason to buy now. Limited time offers work and give people a reason not to procrastinate.
  5. Be Real: Ed McMahon, Ron Popeil, Suzanne Summers, Susan Luchi and many others have all sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products over the years and why is that? Because we believe what they have to say. No matter what you’re selling if you aren’t real, people won’t buy.

    Sham Wow Magic

Use these guidelines to help as you make your pitches to clients, employees, co-workers or even your children and friends. We’re all pitchmen and women on a regular basis, but chances are we don’t wear that goofy microphone like Vince Offer does as he pitches Sham Wow. Good thing too!

I work with customers to evaluate their promotional marketing needs and develop creative and measurable solutions to address those needs. I build long-term relationships to become a trusted advisor my clients turn to for their brand extension, promotional product, incentive and other branding needs. Contact me at  

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