A phenomenal piece of marketing, or were we duped?

Last weekend I went to the oddly named Achievers Congress at Excelsior in London. It was oddly named as even thought the likes of Donald Trump, Seb Coe and Tony Robbins was presenting, definitely achievers, the main thrust of the 3 day conference was to sell you more courses and workshops priced at around £2000 a piece by a host of allegedly successful people nobody had ever really heard of. Now, I am not saying for one minute that they havent got a great story to tell and indeed seemed to have done very well but maybe its because I am British but I do resent paying to go to something and finding myself being heavily sold to.

However I did witness what can only be described as the best bit of marketing I have ever seen. The presenter was on stage extolling the virtues of a Public Speaking weekend and how it would change our lives, our fortunes and our happiness. Normally £5000 he was going to allow it to be sold for £2000 for just 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes the price was duly withdrawn and the “offer” was over……shame! He then asked the whole hall, some 6000 people to look under their chairs for the lucky number 39, and one very happy gentleman went running towards the stage to collect his “prize”. I use prize in the loose sense of the word as what it turned out to be was he was being given the opportunity to go the life changing weekend for the bargain price of £2000 plus he got a bunch of “prizes” thrown in.

What was interesting about this ,was the audience didn’t know quite how to take this “free prize” and some called out that he should get it for free. However after the list of add ons where explained such as DVD’s, guest passes and personal coaching the audience seemed happy for him. He was given just 30 seconds to decide whether he wanted the prize and off he ran to the table clutching his credit card elated at being so lucky to win the prize.

What happened next was truly remarkable. The presenter announced he would as a massive act of generosity give 1 more prize and anyone that was interested should come up to the stage to have a chance to win. Around 450 people ran up to the stage for the chance to “win” this 1 lucky ticket. Once everyone was up there and we were told to applaud these people as they were the ones that wanted to become real coaches and help other people in the world. He then asked anyone who was going to “wimp” out and not want the “prize” if they “won”  to leave the stage as this was a place for winners only.

He then  announced that actually he had decided to be super generous and award the first 250 people who could get to the tables at the side with their credit card could also get the prize. I have never been quite so amazed as the vast majority of the stage went running, nearly pushing each other over to get to the tables to hand over their money. In the space of 20 minutes this presenter had made £500,000!!!!!!

Some would say this was a scam,  I would disagree. I think what the chap was selling may well have been amazing and certainly having been on several Anthony Robbins seminars myself I can honestly say that some of his material has been life changing for me. What is debatable is the method that was used to sell his product. In my opinion people were tricked into thinking there was only one prize left, when in fact he used the human emotions of shame, not leaving the stage when asked if they were committed to going through with the prize if they were lucky enough to win. Also, they were caught up in the emotion of being on stage and singled out as superior as they wanted to help others by doing this program.

What was truly fascinating about this was that there was some very intelligent people in the room, and I doubt that all of those people could truly afford £2000, but we all get caught up in not wanting to miss out on a “bargain”.  Whether you think people were completely  duped or it was just fair marketing tactics, I don’t know, but it was truly a spectacular piece of selling. Not one that my integrity would feel comfortable with, but breathtaking to watch in motion.

Has anyone seen a better bit of sales action in progress?

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