“Sell this pen to me.”  Ever heard this one before?

This is a perfect interview question that still stumbles up the occasional aspiring-salesperson today.

The idea is that you try to sell the ordinary run-of-the mill fountain pen that I give to you. In the wolf of Wall Street the model was featured brilliantly and still a somewhat-common interview question in the modern sales world.

Many people try to rattle off as many features of the pen as they can think of knowing well that they’re fudging the facts.

“It can’t run out of ink!”  “It never runs out of ink!”

No “right” answer to this riddle.

Especially the common response is that “Can you write your name for me?”

You are the one to judge, the real trick is turning the question around on the asker. Now, this exercise might look like facing an interview for a job you’re probably not applying for.

However, it’s also an important lesson that many marketers screw up. Now you can see why Savvy marketers sell more than a product.

In “sell me this pen” scenario, the pen is not what we’re talking about. It’s about the need for the pen.

Online courses or digital products can be used to replace pen, and it’s the same scenario.

You could replace “pen” with “online course” or “digital product” and it’s still the same scenario.

You don’t want to merely know the features and benefits of your product but get stuck with a deer-in-the-headlights look on your face when it actually comes time to SELL to your prospects. There’s so much more than just the benefits and features of the product.

Note: many people don’t purchase anything for external reasons, but they purchase due to internal pains and desires.

You can have an amazing, mind blowing product if you are selling anything. However, if you haven’t engaged your prospect internal state, you will most likely fumble. Now let’s have a look at the way into “mass desires” before.

The reason is that the best marketers out there don’t simply sell products. They sell desire, results, and identity, and you too can make it. All it takes it a quick lesson in propaganda.

Propaganda simply means the method of changing public discourse to sway people’s actions.

The term itself has unpleasant method, but that’s not always the case. When I talk about propaganda, I’m not talking about the “fake news” debate that’s taking the world by storm. In the world of marketing, the principle of propaganda works so well in a way that many people are not aware of it.

Let me give you one of my favorite examples from 1920 during the Roaring Twenties. In the 1920s, the typical American breakfast consisted of toast, coffee, and orange juice. Many families back then had little time for a traditional hot, sit-down meal, and this was a major concern to the Beech Nut Packing Company.

The reason is that the main product was bacon. Back then, bacon for breakfast was a foreign concept. People just weren’t on board with its fatty, salty goodness for breakfast (sorry vegans and vegetarians in the house). In the Beech nut packing company, the good people there decided to take a slightly unconventional approach to deal with their bacon problem. They hired a famed propagandist – Edward Bernays.

Bernays didn’t create his campaign for bacon by putting it on sale or trying to sway people with its delicious flavor. He didn’t dress up salesmen in pig costumes on the street to give away free samples. But instead of doing that he took a totally different approach – an approach that had little to do with bacon itself.

Bernays quickly realized the best way to get bacon on the breakfast plate was to indirectly influence the daily eating habits of everyday families. To do this, he sought out and identified the trusted authority figures on the standard American diet.

He sent out a survey to 5,000 doctors across the country asking one simple question: Do you support a hearty breakfast or a light one? 4,500 doctors (that’s 90%, by the way) agreed that a hearty breakfast was the way to go. The propagandist Bernays took that response and ran wild with it, arranging for an educational campaign to be published in newspapers across the country which proclaimed nine out of ten doctors recommend a hearty breakfast!

The suggested go-to hearty breakfast was bacon and eggs. Obviously, the campaign was a massive success. Anyhow, the key takeaway here is that Bernays was able to uncover arguably the most effective way to advertise bacon without actually advertising bacon. He ran a survey and publicized the results.

As you share your product/service with your prospects, consider this …

  • how are you making your prospects feel?
  • how do you put your message in front of your audience?

Would you like to find out more on how to better market to your audience? Be sure to check out my mentor Ferny’s 10 day bootcamp


Regina Lajera
Founder/ CEO
Regina Lajera Success Academy