Years ago, before I ever entered the field of marketing, I saw one of the greatest sales presentations I have ever seen, only I, and most of the 200 plus people in the auditorium weren’t aware that’s what was happening.
And it worked like a charm!
In fact, what made it most effective was that we weren’t really aware that we were being sold to. That in fact we were the targets of a carefully planned and executed marketing campaign that worked mainly because of that fact.
Since that time, I have used the technique myself in many different disguises and in more than one medium, but the marketing technique remains relatively constant.
In mail order marketing, it used to be called the two-step technique. My wife has another, more descriptive, name for it, but we’ll save that for later.
Here’s how it went down. It was the late 80’s, and I had completed 13 years of active duty in the army and was in the Texas Army National Guard, working full time as a federal purchasing agent at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Periodically, the powers that be would hold what were referred to as “Town Meetings”. All the offices would leave someone to answer the phones, and all the employees would meet for question and answer periods, procedure updates, or sometimes, informational briefings. When you got everybody in the room, there were a couple of hundred or more.
One day, a Town Meeting was held, and we were all told we were going to receive a briefing on personal safety. A professionally dressed lady was presented to us, and she gave an excellent, humorous yet fact-filled presentation on defending yourself, or better yet, avoiding placing yourself in dangerous situations. She covered many means of self defense and ways you could fight off or escape from an attacker. She gave special attention to the situations in which a woman might be accosted while shopping or on her way to her car, for example.
The presentation was very valuable, and I saw several people even jotting down her recommendations and cautions.
During a question and answer period that followed, one of the women present asked the lady where some of the items she had mentioned, and shown, during the presentation, such as Mace or pepper spray, could be acquired.
Funny she should ask.
You guessed it. As it happened, the lady represented a company which sold those types of items. She had some free handouts, and she had a table with samples of various self defense items on a table in the back, and a catalog for those who wished to take it home and look at it. She was prepared to take orders for things she did not have with her.
Before the last person left the building, she had sold almost everything she had brought, and had taken orders for several hundred dollars more.
My wife calls it “giving something away”, in order to make a sale.
As I stated above, it has long been known as the “two step” method. In the heyday of mail order, a free report was offered, and, when ordered, arrived with informational material on other, similar items. If the person bought from that presentation, they were offered more items. This procedure had two valuable results. It gave the marketer a growing list of people who responded to that type of presentation and were willing to purchase those sorts of items, and it helped establish a trust relationship between buyer and seller.
I can wave the world’s greatest product around all day, and offer it at reduced rates, but I will make many more sales if I am waving it in front of people who are interested and motivated to buy that sort of product, and… in front of people who already trust me!
Sometimes it is easier to lead the customer to choose the product than to sell the product to the customer.