Anatomy of a Master Idea Monger

“A good basic selling idea, involvement and relevancy, of course, are as important as ever, but in the advertising din of today, unless you make yourself noticed and believed, you ain’t got nothin’.” – Leo Burnett

Have you seen the most recent infomercial by Kevin Trudeau? It’s the one in which he’s selling The Weight Loss Cure.

If you can catch it on TV, check it out. It can teach you a lot about selling ideas.

This guy has been very successful on TV. He turned his last book on natural health into a best-seller through infomercials. I’ve been watching him for a while, trying to figure out what he’s doing, and I have some ideas about how he’s been so successful.

One of the most interesting things is that he has – as far as I know – no qualifications whatsoever in the health field. He’s not a doctor. Not a nutritionist. He doesn’t even have a degree in health sciences. But he knows how to sell his message. He does some of the things we have always said are key to being successful in the health business, and he does them very well.

Let’s start with the basics. In promoting his books, Trudeau observes the following principles that we have advocated in past ETR issues, in AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting , and in ETR’s Direct Marketing Masters Edition program.

  • Sell only one idea at a time.
  • Make that idea attractive by associating it with a desired benefit.
  • Make that benefit believable.
  • Provide additional benefits and prove them.
  • Respect the structure of a persuasive argument.
  • Emphasize the unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Repeat the main benefit.

Sell Only One Idea at a Time

In his Weight Loss Cure infomercial, Trudeau posits the idea that obesity is caused not by overeating or even by eating the wrong kind of food, but by a simple glandular dysfunction. Some people have it, and they stay fat no matter how hard they try to lose weight. Other people don’t, and they are skinny no matter what they eat.

Make That Idea Attractive

Losing weight is simple and easy. All you have to do is take a pill that will put your dysfunctional gland back in working order.

Make That Benefit Believable

Trudeau proves his claim with charts showing how many pounds people have lost following this “weight-loss cure.” The effect of seeing chart after chart has the effect of overcoming skepticism, even though none of that data has been documented. And he is good at coming across as honest, earnest, and reasonable. He wasn’t always this way, but his TV charisma has increased with experience. Watch the infomercial and see if you aren’t charmed by him.

Provide Additional Benefits and Prove Them

Not only does Trudeau hold the “secret” to fast and easy weight loss, but once you start using his system, you will keep losing weight and never, ever become fat again. This very desirable additional benefit is proven by Trudeau’s own experience. After he hit his goal of getting to 196, he dropped another 10 pounds even though he wasn’t even trying anymore!

Respect the Structure of a Persuasive Argument

Trudeau creates sympathy first by saying, “If you are fat, you have to know this: It is not your fault.” Then he makes a promise his prospects want to hear: “You will be able to lose weight quickly, easily, and automatically without dieting. The pounds will come off the moment you start the program. You won’t be hungry, because you will be able to eat whatever you want.”

Only after he’s allowed the prospect customer to imagine how great his new life will be does Trudeau bring in logic and science to back up his claims.

Emphasize a USP

Repeatedly, Trudeau says: “There has never, ever been a diet solution like this before.” Nothing else, he says, has ever approached obesity by treating the hypothalamus gland. “You may have tried the Zone or Atkins or low-carb or low-fat,” he says, “but none of them worked for you, because none of them attacked the problem.”

Repeat the Main Benefit

Over and over, Trudeau reminds the viewer that the solution to losing weight is to take a little pill. No work. No deprivation. You don’t have to worry about eating or exercise or anything else. Just pop the pill.

Other Tricks

He also keeps saying: “I don’t sell this thing…” – and yet he sells a book about it. And if you buy the one book, he throws in all his other books with it. Four books for the cost of one, an overwhelmingly strong close.

What I love about Trudeau’s weight-loss-cure book (and now that I think about it, this is also true of his last book) is that he himself isn’t a tipping-point thinker. None of these ideas were developed by him. He’s just a salesman who can recognize a tipping-point idea when he sees it.

And, boy, can he sell it!

He is a marketer who found a great product and wrote a book about it, and is now turning that book into a best-seller. And if you could find some way to do what he’s doing, you could very likely turn your own product into a best-seller as well. Here’s what you should be thinking about:

  • What would it mean to you if you had a license to steal the best tipping-point ideas out there, simply by “discovering” them, getting excited about them, and selling them to your customers?
  • If you are already in the infomercial business, how does your presentation compare to Trudeau’s in terms of persuasiveness? And if you admit (as you should) that your presentation is weak by comparison, what are the elements that make his infomercials work so well?
  • How much of your creative time is spent generating tipping-point ideas? How much of your money? What is your process for discovering or producing them?
  • Do your products have strong USPs? Are they desirable and easy to understand?
  • Is there a place in your business for a brilliant salesperson, even if he isn’t a qualified expert?

Kevin Trudeau is an idea monger like I’ve never seen, and you would do yourself a favor to take a page from his book on selling.

[Ed. Note: This fall, Michael Masterson and a group of the world’s leading Internet marketing experts will be revealing proven techniques for shooting your online sales through the roof, creating over a dozen sources of new revenue, and tripling or even quadrupling your profits within the next 9 to 12 months. Sign up now for ETR’s fast-approaching 2007 Info-Marketing Bootcamp, Making a Fast Fortune on the “Other Side” of the Internet.] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]