Anthony Robbins, Infomercials and Experiential Marketing

When I teach marketing workshops to information entrepreneurs, I tell a story about myself and Tony Robbins.

A little over a decade ago I would time my nights so I could come home and watch his “Personal Power” infomercial. I couldn’t afford to buy the tapes (no CDs at that time) … but just watching the stories of other people transforming misery into success was enough for me to believe it might be possible for me, too. So I watched, night in and night out … and dreamed about what life would be like with those secrets in my hands.

Later, when I could finally afford the tapes, making that purchase felt like I was conquering the world.

All this before I even listened to the first one.

Today, Seth Godin posted about an infomercial doo-dad called the Pasta Express (emphasis mine):

Actually, the Pasta Express is a plastic tube with a perforated top. You put boiling water into it (probably a tricky act), add some pasta and watch it turn into a gloppy mass as the water cools. Not only doesn’t it solve your pasta problem (what, you didn’t have a pasta problem?) but it makes bad pasta.

So, how does it sell?

It sells because the point of the commercial isn’t to sell you something that will help you make better pasta. The point of the commercial is to sell you something that you will enjoy buying.

More and more, we buy stuff where the buying is the point, not the stuff.

There is a danger of looking at this too cynically.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is an “either/or” proposition … that the point can be EITHER a) the experience of buying OR b) the experience of using the product.

The most effective marketers put as much attention on crafting a compelling purchase experience as they do a compelling delivery/usage experience.

Do you?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous July 29, 2008 at 12:24 am

My mom bought the pasta express and I’m here to tell ya, it sucks!

Reply

2 Anonymous July 29, 2008 at 5:24 am

My mom bought the pasta express and I’m here to tell ya, it sucks!

Reply

3 Anonymous March 4, 2007 at 4:54 pm

The underlying message here is a really important one I think. This kind of concept could be applied to a lot of things, not just selling products, obviously, but services as well. Seems to me though that you sort of have to have the best of both worlds (buying process, usage process) if you hope to have any real long-term success (and would genuinely like your customers to be happy at the end of the day)

Reply

4 Anonymous March 4, 2007 at 9:54 pm

The underlying message here is a really important one I think. This kind of concept could be applied to a lot of things, not just selling products, obviously, but services as well. Seems to me though that you sort of have to have the best of both worlds (buying process, usage process) if you hope to have any real long-term success (and would genuinely like your customers to be happy at the end of the day)

Reply

5 Michael Cage September 27, 2006 at 9:57 pm

P.S. QVC and the Home Shopping Network are a few other examples.

Reply

6 Michael Cage September 28, 2006 at 2:57 am

P.S. QVC and the Home Shopping Network are a few other examples.

Reply

7 Michael Cage September 27, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Adelino,

Thanks for the comment.

It even goes beyond sizzle and steak … it’s about making the experience of making a purchase as desirable and rewarding as the product/service/offering itself.

Think about it this way:

Is the experience of buying from you so rewarding that even if the product/service being bought is sub-par … your customers would buy again?

Now, I am in no way suggesting making a sub-par product or service … but I am suggesting there is tremendous value in making the act of purchasing itself feel as good as it possibly can. Retailers like Starbucks, the Apple Store and Pike’s Place Market have used this strategy very well.

Reply

8 Michael Cage September 28, 2006 at 2:47 am

Adelino,
Thanks for the comment.
It even goes beyond sizzle and steak … it’s about making the experience of making a purchase as desirable and rewarding as the product/service/offering itself.
Think about it this way:
Is the experience of buying from you so rewarding that even if the product/service being bought is sub-par … your customers would buy again?
Now, I am in no way suggesting making a sub-par product or service … but I am suggesting there is tremendous value in making the act of purchasing itself feel as good as it possibly can. Retailers like Starbucks, the Apple Store and Pike’s Place Market have used this strategy very well.

Reply

9 Anonymous September 27, 2006 at 7:07 pm

You make an excellent point that is never too emphasized: effective marketing will sell the sizzle even if there is no steak (although it is best to also have a steak)

Reply

10 Anonymous September 28, 2006 at 12:07 am

You make an excellent point that is never too emphasized: effective marketing will sell the sizzle even if there is no steak (although it is best to also have a steak)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: