How to Be a Sensitive, Pony-tailed Marketing Guy

sensitive pony tail guyYou have a brand. You have a marketing plan.

Absolutely, you need those two things. You can’t get noticed without the brand and you can’t find people to buy your stuff without the plan.

All good.

But how exactly do people choose to brand themselves online? What marketing and sales strategies do they use and why?

This past week, there have been some interesting discussions going on in the blogosphere about these questions.

Now there’s one guy in particular. You may have seen him. He’s low-key, casually dressed, with a charming personality.

He’s not like what some people refer to as the online “carnival barker.” He sells those information products, you know the ones where you can make $2 million in a weekend.

Tiny disclaimer: the title of this post is a little misleading. This guy doesn’t have a ponytail per se. It’s long hair, though, blond and straggly-looking, with locks he keeps pushing behind his ears in his videos.

Some see that as endearing.

Others, the ones with highly-tuned crap-o-meters? Maybe not so much.

Now I’m not going to judge his credibility because I have never bought his product. I’m just sayin’, a lot of people envy him.

That’s why they buy his stuff. They want to be like him. They want the house in La Jolla. And the surfboards. Oh, yeah. Some of them want those.

But forget for a moment that he has thousands of rabid fans. That he’s taught them to make fistfuls of money (while they sleep). That his marketing either makes you want to puke or pull out your credit card.

Fact is, he is successful at convincing us—the poor, lazy ones who want instant fame but don’t really want to work to get it—to buy his information product.

One of the top bloggers in the world calls him an “extreme anti-marketing personality. ” I guess that would make his brand the “anti-marketing marketer brand.”

But when you break his messages down, they’re really not that different from the old-school direct mail sales letters—except that he’s the sensitive, pony-tailed surfer dude in a t-shirt and jeans, in a full-color video, sitting on a lawn chair in his backyard.

(You’re wondering how I know about old-school direct mail sales letters, aren’t you. I know because I went through a hugely expensive course two years ago, when I was thinking about starting an Internet-based information publishing business.

From that, and the hugely expensive direct response copywriting conference that followed, I learned all the secrets to writing those letters. You know the ones I mean. Those really long ones with
the huge-font headlines in red, followed by Sign up now!)

After watching his video, I’m seeing a little of those same techniques.

Okay, a lot.

Sensitive, pony-tailed marketing guy’s message playbook:

1. “I’m just a ‘regular guy.’ Hey, I’m a surfer dude. I’m just like you. I like to have fun. I don’t like to work hard. Buy this video program and it’ll be like I’m right there in your living room, except I won’t be drinking all your beer.

The strategy: Build trust. Show empathy for “the little guy.”

2. “I shouldn’t be telling you this.” I’m letting you in on a secret. At my last seminar, my attorney came on stage and made everyone sign a no-compete agreement. I’m sending you this ‘secret early link.’ (Leans in and whispers.)

The strategy: Confide in prospects. Make then feel part of a special club.

3. “This is not like that other junk you wasted your money on.” I know, you’ve ordered those other products before. You read a little bit and then thought, ‘”What am I supposed to do with this?” It was confusing, so you just put it away on the shelf. This program is not like that. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

The strategy:
Differentiate yourself from the “enemy.”

4. “It’s really easy or I wouldn’t be doing it.” Now I’m
not the kind of guy who likes complicated things. If it’s too hard, I just won’t do it. But this worked for me. And I don’t just tell you, I show you how I made $3.8 million in 24 hours.

The strategy: Reveal a weakness (he’s a little lazy), an “Achilles Heel,” to show you are no better than your prospect.

5. “I’ll be raising the price in the future, assuming I offer this product again.” This offer won’t last. Time is running out. You will miss out if you wait. Act now.

The strategy: Create scarcity and a sense of urgency.

6. “I’m so confident you’ll be blown away by this, I’m offering an unconditional 60-day guarantee.” I’m
showing you that I stand behind my product 100 percent. In fact, if you loved every bit of the package except for DVD #4, send just that one DVD back and I’ll refund the purchase price for the entire program.

The strategy: Use a super-strong guarantee when you sense that it’s hard for your prospects to believe your promises. Remind them that they have nothing to lose.

So what do you think?

Can we learn anything about marketing and branding from this surfer dude?

Is what he is doing good salesmanship or manipulation?

Does it work for his brand but maybe not for somebody else’s?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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7 Comments

  1. Lynn February 25, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Great post, Judy. You got me thinking. : )
    Does this guy manipulate? Yeah – but you're right, when I think of the direct mail letters I get every day, they are eerily similar to surf-boy's strategy.
    So, he’s not really anti-marketing at all; he’s marketing on steroids. He worked long and hard to perfect his message to give the illusion he doesn't even know what "branding" is.
    Does it work? Guess so, or he’d be an unknown blip. Instead, he’s surfin’ the blogosphere. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

    Reply

  2. Matt Garry February 25, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Of course this is manipulative. Personally I have never fallen for anything like this and it blows me away that people do.

    Reply

  3. Judy Dunn February 25, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    @Lynn: Yes, he is brilliant at marketing and branding. And I am sure he works very hard, regardless of his "this is easy" persona. It works for him. For me, it boils down to core values. I just can't play people like that.
    @Matt: Thanks for stopping by! I agree with your comment on manipulation. For me, anyway. But is it still manipulation if someone doesn't see it that way? A lot of people are in love with this guy and will buy anything he sells.

    Reply

  4. Linda Williams February 25, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Judy, I love your de-construction of his approach! And like him or love him (I saw one of those backyard videos :-), we may see the strategies you point out as manipulative, but on a deeper level, many of them are based on how we relate to each other, find a connection, build confidence – even in our day to day conversations.
    Making his strategies visible to us, though, gives us choice on whether to BUY NOW!…or think about it a bit. Great post!
    Linda Williams

    Reply

  5. Judy Dunn February 25, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    Linda,
    What a perceptive comment. Yes, he is certainly a master of the psychological technique, connecting with people, and trust building. Many very smart people think his strategies are brilliant.
    I guess, aside from the branding issue, I wanted to start a conversation on how your core values make you decide what you will do and what you will not do when you sell to someone.
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

    Reply

  6. Solomon April 6, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Hi Judy,
    I think your analysis is so true. It speaks of your expertise and depth of understanding of human psyche. Sure, it's how the MESSAGES are SENT across.
    I really like the pony tails… they send a strong message that they love life; besides…business, money etc.
    Good and engaging post!
    Solomon
    Recent blog post: Leverage the RAW ENERGY of YOUR SPEECH
    Recent blog post: Leverage the RAW ENERGY of YOUR SPEECH

    Reply

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  1. How to Write an Opinion Post - - January 27, 2016

    […] instance, when my blog still focused on marketing, I wrote my opinion (really a rant) of a charming “anti-marketer” surfer dude—an online pitch guy who is reaping millions by using what I thought were manipulative […]

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