Ideas can make sales even more than products make sales. Here’s a case summary involving a trendy promotion — The Rich Jerk — and how a totally separate marketer used its success to literally profit from nothing more than well-conceived words and a few connections.
Niche marketing, Rich Jerk, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, internet promotion, cognitive dissonance, work at home, sell the sizzle, Cyberiter
Here is the first rule anyone learns who is even remotely concerned with marketing …
“Sell the sizzle and not the steak.”
In other words, an appeal to what excites the consumer is much more effective than the properties of the product. This is not necessarily deceptive. In many cases, products can be so similar that the only real difference among them is in their perception, ie- ‘sizzle,’ by the public.
If ever anyone in cyberspace has excelled with this principle, it’s The Rich Jerk.
If you’ve done any significant cybercruising, you’ve surely encountered his promotional campaign. His spiel is impressively creative. He claims that he’s rich, not necessarily because he works harder than you, but because he’s better than you. As a result, he doesn’t really care what you think about him or whether you’re interested in buying his product. However, he makes it very clear that it’s due to his product that he can claim his arrogant superiority over you and everyone else.
The Rich Jerk could be the Don Rickles of the 21st century. He revels in spewing insults at his audience, and the more he wallows in rudeness, the more effective his message becomes. Some readers may not be amused by his angle, but most recognize that he goes so over the top with his approach that his point is made. He purports to be so financially free that it doesn’t matter what others think of him, and therein lies the sizzle.
The Rich Jerk’s product is a mere staple of cyberspace: he’s selling a work-at-home internet business concept. There’s nothing earth-shaking in his content. It’s basically the same as what everyone else in the genre is selling:
1) Find a product,
2) Get a website,
3) Promote the product,
4) Reap the profits.
The Rich Jerk has some leads that may expedite the process, but none of those are anything exceptional, either. Results will vary. Few will join him in richness.
Still, that’s not the Rich Jerk’s issue. His job is selling his product. He’s doing it legally and effectively. As far as I’m concerned, he’s merely selling the cyber-equivalent of bottled water; he’s taking something you can get for free, putting an aura around it and getting you to pay for it. Willingly.
Another principle taught in marketing is that of cognitive dissonance. Basically, this term infers that consumers have a tendency to justify their purchase of a product by noting its advantages to them and downplaying any disadvantages. For example, in this case, they’d say they’ve bought a step-by-step tutorial for getting into a work-at-home business and have saved time over anyone trying to gather all that information by themselves, even though the task can be done for free with a bit of search-engineering. Almost every positive comment I’ve seen about The Rich Jerk’s product confirms this tendency.
Thus, the Rich Jerk has his bases covered. His sizzle is alluring, his product may be obvious, but it’s legitimate and his aftermarket has afterglow.
Not only has the Rich Jerk seemingly done well for himself, he’s spawned a cottage industry for others. Copycats are abounding. So far, I’ve already seen ads for the Money King and The Rich Pig; more are probably on the way. They’re poor imitations, but in cyberspace, duplication is a successful form of flattery. They might actually profit from their near-plagiarism.
There is one facet of Jerkdom that is worth calling to your attention, though, which involves the third sales principle I’d like to mention: incentive marketing. This involves giving a consumer something for nothing, in some manner, in order to realize a profit.
Enter The Free Jerk. He’s offering to give you the Rich Jerk product, legally, in return for your simply reading his critique of it. That’s his product.
The Free Jerk profits because you’re going to first pay for the Rich Jerk’s product, after which The Free Jerk gives you a 100% rebate. In effect, he’s ‘sharing’ the affiliate’s commission he receives from The Rich Jerk for your purchase. He makes up the financial difference — and then some — by directing your details, for another commission, to major cyberspace advertisers who see you as an ‘active’ cyber-consumer. Thus, he realizes a net profit and you get what becomes a ‘free’ copy of the Rich Jerk’s product. You also get directed to additional advertising, but The Free Jerk tells you in advance that it’s coming your way, so you do have a choice.
Thus, the Jerk industry is a niche of ironies. Sizzle is on sale, and if you’re so inclined, you can accept someone else’s sizzle in exchange for being exposed to further sizzle in order to acquire the original sizzle for nothing more than a bit of after-sizzle.
And while all this is in process, someone’s making money and everyone has the possibility of being satisfied with their end of the deal.
As the consumer who catalyzes this Jerk-a-thon, perhaps that makes you the Niche Jerk.
Marketing is indeed alive and well in cyberspace.