Monday, March 14, 2011

If you thought Don Draper was good...

I’m always looking for effective ways of selling my book. (By the way, it’s gotten great reviews, it’s very funny, and the ebook costs only $2.99. What are you waiting for??? Order it here for Kindle, here for the Nook, here for everywhere else. And the paperback has just come out.  It's only $6.99 and you can order that here.  

But when I think of great salesmen, one name immediately comes to mind. Reverend Gene Scott. I’ve mentioned him before. He was a mainstay of local LA television in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He had this cable channel and was on it 24 hours a day. Twelve of those hours he was live. Twenty-one of those hours he was pitching for money. You rarely, if ever, saw him actually teach or preach the gospel.

He used a variety of techniques. Dr. Scott was a ruggedly handsome figure with flowing white hair and piercing eyes. Every time you tuned in, there he was, sitting on this garish wooden throne of buffalo antlers, staring at you, soliciting. Every other TV evangelist would cajole you, appeal to your sense of commitment and faith, and even occasionally beg. Not Dr. Scott.

He would get angry at you. He would yell at you. He would call you worthless.  He would accuse you of being in league with the devil.  (Dr. Scott was very big on the devil.  That was his go-to guy.)

He would sometimes set time limits. $30,000 in 30 minutes, or else! (I never knew what “what else” was since he never actually preached.) And then my favorite – he would just stare at you… for an hour. At the time I’m writing MASH and thinking, “I’m killing myself trying to come up with material to pack into every minute of the show” and this guy is more mesmerizing just sitting in a chair staring at me.

He brought in money by the bucket loads.

Now, obviously I can’t do that. I guess I could ask you to stare at the picture at the top of this post until you break down and buy the book, but I don't think that would work. 

Recently, I heard someone else try to emulate a Dr. Scott method with disappointing but riotous results.

I was surfing one night through iTunes radio, sampling different internet stations. I came upon this oldies station from Great Britain. A record ends and the owner of the station comes on. He says the station survives on donations alone. He then tells his audience to go to his website and pledge a donation. I was just about to move on.  But then he said this: “I’m not going back to music until I’ve received thirty pledges”.

Allll-riiiight! Now I knew I was in for some fine entertainment.

There are a billion other oldies internet stations. Some play the hits, some play obscure songs; there’s probably four that play Annette records 24/7. So his threat is completely toothless.

For the next half hour this guy vamps like there was no tomorrow. Clearly, he's getting no takers. How could he get thirty pledges? There couldn’t have been more than five people (including me) listening to this.

At first he jabbered on and on about how unique his playlist was. Uh, no. There are a thousand other stations playing that same Clarence Frogman Henry records. Then he discussed how hard he works and how much time this station requires. Uh, who’s telling you to do it?

Then he fumbles around for ten minutes groping for anything to say. Finally, he gets angry. But he's British. So he can't just yell at you like Dr. Gene. The best he can do is be properly peeved. And inside I know he's ready to explode.

Finally, out of pity (and gratitude for such a delightful half hour) I went to his website to make a donation.

I got an error message. The site wasn’t working.

It was the devil!  The devil I say!!

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