Would it be hard to sell $1 million worth of potato peelers online?
How about selling $1 million worth of potato peelers on the streets of New York?
That’s exactly what an elderly gentleman named Joe Ades did.
He was a great character but, more importantly, he was perhaps one of the greatest marketers of all time.
Because, over many years, he perfected a sales pitch that earned him that $1 million plus in sales.
And all of us online marketers can learn a lot from him.
Here is a video of Joe in action.
The sound quality is not great, but it was shot on a bustling New York street.
I have added numbers to the video to correspond with notes you will see below the video.
Sit back, relax, enjoy and learn from a truly masterful marketer…
These notes correspond to the annotations in the video.
1. Stop traffic
Once a small crowd has gathered Joe waves his audience in closer as a “courtesy” because it “saves me shouting”.
He promises, “I won’t ask you for money” to differentiate himself from the panhandlers in the streets of New York City.
(And technically he does not ask for money, he asks for a sale.)
You can use this when driving traffic to your offers by promising something of value for visiting your site.
Tease curiosity with headlines like, “Exposed: How An Old Man With A Funny Accent Made A Million Dollars Selling Potato Peelers On A NYC Sidewalk”.
2. Show your credentials
Notice that Joe surrounds himself with proof of his credentials: his Daily News article is on display, as is his feature article in Vanity Fair and a photo of his appearance on the Today Show.
This makes the audience feel safe and provides Joe celebrity status.
You can use this on your website by displaying legitimate credentials about you and your business via testimonial blurbs, endorsements and “As Seen On” icons.
3. Big action opener
Once the audience is close, Joe doesn’t waste time making hyped-up promises or small talk, he just gets right to work demonstrating what his product does and why it matters to his prospects.
You can use this in your pitch by launching straight into a video that shows your product in action.
Once you’ve won your prospect’s attention, you can begin to drill down the finer benefits.
4. Describe the tangible benefits
Joe knows his product will appeal to busy moms, so he says, “You do that with the kids, they’ll eat their vegetables”.
There’s another brilliant example of some “beyond benefits” a minute or so later when Joe explains that if you fry potatoes and drink red wine like the French, “You’ll live forever, you’ll never die”.
You can use this by thinking through how each benefit of your product can have a positive effect on life for your prospects beyond the obvious.
5. Use humor to bond with your audience
“Doesn’t matter if you’re right handed, left handed, or like a politician — under-handed”.
This is masterful use of humor as bonding tool.
It furthers Joe’s “man of the people” credentials even though he was a millionaire living on Park Ave.
You can use this with your audience by finding a common enemy to poke fun at, but keep it lighthearted unless your market is extreme in its beliefs.
6. Show the dreadful alternative
Joe holds up the common potato peeler most of us have in our kitchen drawer and says, “You can’t slice potatoes like that with one of these things”.
This simple reference to the norm makes what we’ve been using to peel potatoes feel desperately inferior and creates a sudden urgency to replace a utensil that was far from our minds just two minutes earlier.
You can use this by pitting the way your prospects typically do things against how life could be if they were armed with your product or service.
7. It’s easy for anyone to use
Joe hands the peeler to an audience member and has her glide it across a carrot.
This gives the audience “social proof” that it isn’t just Joe’s prowess with the tool that makes it so effective. The thing really works!
You can use this online by showing video testimonials of people bragging about how great your product works for them.
8. Reveal ‘the catch’?
Here Joe says, “There’s no trick, there’s no skill, but you must use at least six slices”.
This caveat is hardly a deal breaker.
However, by revealing it and adding in the word “but…” you know he’s giving you the truth, making it easy to give him your trust.
You can use this by looking for a place to reveal a small flaw or caveat to your product’s magic and exposing it to build trust.
9. Close with a flurry of benefit bullets
Now that the demo is complete, the proof is shown and the trust is established, it’s time to open the cash register.
As Joe pulls out his big bankroll (more proof that the product is popular) he shouts a litany of features and benefits to knock his prospects off the fence…
- “They’re made in Switzerland, they’re not made in China.”
- “They’re made of stainless steal, they cannot rust.”
- “They’re dishwasher safe and I promise you they never need sharpening.”
You can use this by listing the biggest benefits beside or underneath your order button and again on the order form itself.
10. Squash common objections
“And if anyone thinks that’s a special one, you can have that one, I’ll use another one”.
Clearly a response to 15 years of skeptical New Yorkers insisting that Joe is shooting with “loaded dice”.
He knows it’s on the mind of certain prospects, so he squashes it with a quick line.
You can use this by adding a FAQ section to your sales page to tackle common objections.
11. Special offer pricing
Joe offers “one for $5 or five for $20”.
But notice how he builds to the special offer with his phrasing, “They’re five dollars each, they’re worth every penny, they last a lifetime. You can get two for ten, four for twenty and a lot do — you’ll get one free.”
You can use this by thinking of ways to create special offer pricing, just be careful that it doesn’t diminish the original value you’ve worked to establish.
12. Create emotional urgency and justify with logic
“And why would anybody want five peelers if they last a lifetime?” Joe asks.
“Cuz you’ve got four friends that’s why”.
Then he reminds us that the holidays are coming up and punches the offer with, “you not only save a lot of money, you save a lot of time looking for gifts”.
You can use this by getting your prospects to think about how much the people in their life would benefit from the product and how they’d be a hero for showing up with one as a gift.
13. Keep selling through the sale
As Joe furiously collects cash and hands out peelers, listen to how he runs through his credentials to nudge people over the fence and help them justify their emotional decision to buy…
- “Fifteen years I’ve been selling the same thing.”
- “1994 I was in the Daily News.”
- “Three years ago, Vanity Fair. Julia Roberts on the cover and me in the middle.”
- “Best $5 you’ll ever spend.”
- “You can’t buy anything in this country that’s made in Switzerland for five dollars… A Swiss Army knife is nearly $100”.
- “They don’t make cheap things in Switzerland, they make good things”.
- And my favorite line… “You’re not buying these because they’re cheap, you buy ‘em because they’re good and they work.”
Four minute pitch, five dollar product, fifteen years of success, over a million in sales.
Proof that making sales can be easy when you believe in your product and you’ve got the right pitch.