I read the amazing life story of the ultimate ‘board-walk pitchman’ Ron Pompeil, in The Pitchman, an article by Malcolm Gladwell.
I was intrigued by the influencing power of this extraordinary entrepreneur. If you sense you could be more successful when talking to your supporters, then Ron’s techniques will help.
Over the last ten years coaching fundraisers I have noticed that people not understanding the psychology of persuasion is one of the most common barriers to success. Here are three of Ron’s tactics that any fundraiser would do well to practise.
“You know, we’re going to hit a million dollars, just on the first hour,” one of the QVC guys said, and there was awe in his voice.’ He had been watching on his monitor, as ‘The Salesman of the Century’, Ron Pompeil completed his hour-long set selling his kitchen gadgets.
I read the extraordinary story of Pompeil’s life in The Pitchman, an article by Malcolm Gladwell for the New Yorker first published in October 2000.
I was intrigued by the larger than life story and influencing skill of this legendary ‘board-walk pitchman’. If you or a fundraiser you know is unhappy with their current ability to influence donors, then there is plenty we can learn from Ron.
I have trained or coached more than 5,000 fundraisers over the last decade, and noticed common areas where people usually fail to persuade – here are my three favourite ideas that we could borrow from Ron Pompeil.
1. Find and show the contrast
Before giving any detail about his product, Ron Pompeil always paints a picture of what is messy or arduous or time-consuming about carrying out the kitchen process if you don’t have his machine – “How many cut tomatoes like this? You stab it. You jab it. The juices run down your elbow…”
He understands, as every outstanding fundraiser understands, that you can’t just start talking about how fantastic your widget (or charitable service) is at scratching itches. For your widget or service to be appreciated, people must first tune into what the itch or problem is that your solution solves.
It probably sounds obvious to you that we should evoke the problem
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