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Merchandise, Marketing, And Making Money With Ron Lynch
I’ve got to speak to some of the legends of the business world. However, this personal friend of mine has not only got one of the best pedigrees when it comes to running businesses and making billions of dollars. He’s also somebody who I admire and respect as a mentor myself. I’d like to introduce you to Ron Lynch.
Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.
Please share and brag a little bit about some of the incredible things you’ve done.
I’ll tell you some of the incredible places I happen to be standing in the right spot when good stuff happened. When I was a young man, I got invited to an audition that landed me a role in a movie directed by Robert Altman, which is one of the great Hollywood directors, a protege of Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve started to learn movie-making. That got me a SAG card which got me into other film sets to learn from other directors. I spent a lot of time in my youth on film sets as both an actor and a production assistant learning how films are made. I’ve worked at a grocery store and was fortunate enough to make some decisions to dive into how the mathematics of grocery stores worked. I was discovered to be adept at that and eventually became a general manager of a grocery company.
My specific task was either to do new construction of high-end grocery stores or turnarounds from stores that were failing to make them successful. We were renting space at nighttime to a friend of mine who was a producer for infomercials who released the George Foreman Grill. I realized I would rather be making infomercials, which was a combination of film-making and selling groceries and my career transitioned. Since the week of 9/11, I’ve left the grocery world and started in the advertising and marketing world, which has led to internet advertising. I’ve had my fingers involved in campaigns including OxiClean, Orange Glo, Sonicare toothbrush and lots of cookers and cooking appliances. People most notably know me for being the person who strategized with Nick Woodman in the launch of GoPro and how to do the creative behind that. I used to own the media company that did GoPro’s advertising. That’s where I came from and here we are.
This gives you a unique insight of business that I have admired and borrowed on many occasions when it comes to helping people refine the message to their product, bring it to the masses and then scale it up, in some cases, make billions of dollars which is what you’ve done with some of these products. What would you say is the most important point when it comes to advertising your product, getting your message out there or defining your message?
The most important point is the positioning of empathy. You have to empathize with the audience, otherwise, you’re never going to be able to speak to them. That means if you’re going to go down the road of empathy, you have to go down some pretty deep rabbit holes for each type of customer vertical. Are you selling a product that makes a difference in their life? There’s ethics involved. Are you able to talk to them in a language that they can hear? Most advertising does not hit people as intellectual, it should hit them as emotional. A lot of people write poor copy. I like to have my copy be a conversation with the customer about them first and the product second. Empathy is the core belief that I have to do good in the world. Those are the kinds of brands that people stick with. If something does good, then they’re happy with it and they tell other people. Your best advertising is people advertising your product to other people without you paying for media.
This was illustrated by the work that you did with GoPro. When GoPro was first coming out, we know them as the leader of the space when it comes to action cameras. They weren’t the only ones at that time. There was the Sony camera that was trying to get out. There are a bunch of other companies that were trying to push their action cameras out. They knew that this was something people wanted but wasn’t sure how to get it out there, but you change the face of the GoPro forever by doing one simple thing. If you wouldn’t mind sharing that, that would be beneficial for people.
It’s entertaining to me because Contour cameras was their competitor and they were two floors down from me in my office building. I couldn’t get them to listen to us. What you’re pointing towards is there were three key components for GoPro. The first one was GoPro is a pre-okay camera. When it came out, it wasn’t fantastic but the amounts were amazing. We went out cinematically and we used the media to use user-generated footage and we taught people to shoot two angles, themselves and the angle of the sports footage. We weren’t selling sports footage, we were selling avatars.
The first shot in every commercial always has an avatar. A person with a helmet, goggles and whatever sport. All of the verticals were all different sports. We utilize sports footage. At the end, we had a call to action offer. That offer was simply every day we give away a complete suite of our cameras so people could enter to win. We drove people to an online web portal, which was the site and an interrupt would come up and you’d fill out your data, your email address, and we’d pull you out of the media channel. We had someone to market to you directly. It was a very low customer acquisition costs. Once someone filled that out, then they’d go to the site and they’d realize, “This is just not my sport. It’s every sport in the world. Everybody’s going to want this thing. I’ll never win this contest,” and they bought.Your best advertising is people advertising your product to other people without you paying for media. Click To Tweet
That was one of the big realizations I had from talking to you when it came to understanding marketing because many people would try to learn to be a copywriter or learn all these complicated scripts. If you don’t have that core foundation behind it, which is making them real people and turning that camera around to show people using the product and enjoying it, then everything else is almost irrelevant.
We had the advantage of both YouTube and Facebook launching at the same time. There was a desperate need for people to take this form of self-expression, narcissism or whatever you want to call it and place it online. No one wants to hear you talk about what a great skier you are but everybody wants to see you jump off that cliff.
You worked with a lot of very big brands and you help them with their advertising. We’ve been talking quite a lot in the Psychology Hacker show about advertising and getting it out there. Most people, when they think of advertising, they think of one particular platform. They’ll either only do Google ads or they will only do Facebook ads, but your experiences are far beyond that. I remember you saying that you managed to get adverts during the Super Bowl.
First of all, what do you and your audience anticipate the cost of let’s say a 32nd Super Bowl ad is?
We’re talking millions of dollars. I can’t even fathom the amount of millions it would cost because I’m only competing with everybody else for that same spot.
It’s $4 million to $5 million a minute, probably $2 million to $3 million for 30 seconds.
That doesn’t count producing the ad. That’s just to get the space.
It’s buying the time from CBS, ESPN or whoever’s got the airtime at that moment. What we did was there’s an FTC, FCC rule that when a person license buys a local affiliate. In every town there’s a local CBS, NBC or ABC affiliate, it’s affiliated with that network, but it’s owned by a smaller communications company. For every hour of national airtime ABC or CBS puts on, they have to give that local affiliate a certain amount of free ad time. Thirty seconds to a minute per hour or three minutes per hour, whatever it is. The way that you normally see this ad time spent is you’ll see local car dealership ads, local chiropractors or doctors or local restaurants in your area. During the Super Bowl, that becomes completely unaffordable for the local affiliates to sell. No local Ford dealer is going to pay $60,000 during the Super Bowl to have a local Super Bowl ad. It will take them forever to sell that many trucks to pay for it, so they don’t buy us. The time sits follow and what you see as a viewer is an advertisement for what’s going to happen after the Super Bowl, whether it’s 60 minutes or the local news does a promo because the time goes unsold and you have to fill the time.
What we did with GoPros, we went around the country and we found thirteen markets that we want it to appear in the Super Bowl and we bought that time during the Super Bowl for pennies on the dollar. Where everybody else goes to the Super Bowl directly and tries to buy time for $2 million or $3 million, we went indirectly to all of the submarkets and pick that time from all of these smaller affiliates for $50,000 or $60,000. As soon as they weren’t selling that many of them and they had us on the hook as a customer, we’d ask to come back and get one or two more airings, which they reluctantly but often said yes to. The Super Bowl comes on and suddenly we have a GoPro commercial that’s in pregame. One that’s in the second quarter and one that’s post-game or in the fourth quarter. In all those thirteen markets, they get online and they’re like, “Did you see the Super Bowl commercial for GoPro? They bought three of them. They must be rocking.” Our entire media budget was $350,000 to $380,000 and everybody else was spending $3 million. We got three Super Bowl commercials and they got one.
This is why I love talking to you is you think outside the box. I’m going to share a Ron Lynch moment I had with everyone reading. I went to my local movie theater and I watched the Spiderman movie. At the beginning, I started watching all these local ads pop up and then I saw, “Advertise at your local cinema. This is probably your demographic.” I was like, “I would normally completely ignore that.” Because of you, I was like, “I’m going to go and I’m going to grab that link and have a look and see the cost of advertising at my local movie theater.” I found this is completely affordable. You could be advertising to what people go to the movies on a regular basis. It’s the people that can afford your products.If you question how things are done instead of accepting how you think things are done, you're going to learn a lot in the world. Click To Tweet
If you question how things are done instead of accepting how you think things are done, you’re going to learn a lot in the world.
I love the way that you think about that and it does make sense to see so much.
It’s mutual admiration. That’s one of my favorite things about you. You are always open to learning and you have this humility about you. Your curiosity is very similar to mine. That’s why we’re such good friends. I’m driven by curiosity, not ego. It’s fun to learn stuff and it’s fun to go, “Everything is a puzzle, a game and has a rule.” Once you know what the rule is, you know exactly how to break them.
Our mutual friend, Brad Costanzo, who’s been on here before, always says, “I’m like Peter Pan.” He’s like, “You refused to grow up and refused to stop playing.”
Why would you?
One of my favorite things about you is when it comes to advertising, you have a rule. I worked in public relations for years and I used to work with Forward Communications, which is a huge PR agency in the UK. The guy who invented this agency is the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud. He was asked if he had $1 million to spend on ads, where would he advertise? He said, “I wouldn’t advertise. I would run a PR campaign.” I always think about you when it comes to this. I was like, “If you only had 30 seconds of air time to show an advert and you didn’t have enough time to write the copy, what is the one thing that you would put in the advert?” If you couldn’t have access to everything. If you have one scene and one camera, what would you air or what would you show?
First of all, I would show something that is a counterintuitive joke. It shows pattern interrupt of some sort with a breadcrumb for them to take the next step. I’d want to entertain and fascinate somebody with some visual and make sure that they had to take the next step.
This is what I love about your advertising versus everybody else’s. I find a lot of people do brand advertising where they’re trying to get you to see them as often as possible. Whereas what I love about you is you’re always trying to capture their data or communications so you can talk to them as much as you want. When someone only gives you 30 seconds, you find a way to get an hour or what have you.
That’s the nature of it because you don’t know when someone’s going to buy. Your early adopters can buy after 30 seconds or two minutes or four minutes. There are some people that need a half an hour or an hour or two weeks, and that often is a reflection of price point. The more expensive something is the longer the sales cycle. At the same time, I have seen car commercials and I went out and bought that vehicle because that vehicle was finally out and they spent no money marketing to me because I already had a desire. It’s how to build desire in people, which is why so much of the things that you have done in both gaming and in the dating space fascinate me.
Somebody laughed at me when I was at a big conference. I got up and spoke with four or five other people. Kurt Molly was there and some guys that are very prominent in the documentary space and they ask, “What’s the number one thing that you do in what you do?” I said, “It’s seduction.” They said, “How do you implement that?” I said, “I seduce with seduction.” Everybody laughed and then they thought about it. Think of all the other ways people try to seduce you and they forget seduction. They tried to do it with bullying or attention. They’re pigtail pullers. That’s not how it’s done.Once you know what the rule is, you know exactly how to break them. Click To Tweet
It’s so funny because I did dating for a very long time. I still teach dating. My favorite seduction methods that we’ve ever used, which we use all the time in our own marketing, is I’m going to do this cool thing. I’m going to invite you to come with me if you also want to do this cool thing, but if you don’t, that’s fine. We’re going to go and do it anyway and it’s going to be awesome. That method has been the best when it comes to advertising. Often, we’ve got a new product coming out all about content creation. The only marketing we’ve done so far is I’m going to go in for the next three months focused on creating a ton of content and I’m going to dive deep into how I create my content to get hundreds of thousands of followers online. If you want to come and do it with me, you can and this is how much it costs to do it with me.
It’s super smart.
It worked great. On the day we launched it, we did $30,000 in presales with no money spent on advertising. I just made a Facebook post and said, “I’m going to do this.”
One of the things is people get into business and they think about making money as the result. Successful businesses don’t make money, they make customers. Customers come back and they make an experience that people want to return to and people want to talk about. I like this to be either a powerboat person or a sailboat person. I’m a sailboat person. I’m all about the destination and the journey. You know you’re going to get people that are going to want to join you on a journey. Journeys are fascinating. One of the things that we teach and very simple is the advertising world tends to fish with a line instead of a net. People try to create clever ads, attract people with a clever ad and try to sell something immediately. I try to create ads that attract people in a creative process where they’re interested and want to take the next step and see the next creative and eventually purchase.
You have to understand how human beings learn. This is the difference between advertising and marketing. Advertising is shoving something in front of somebody’s face and trying to get a transaction. Marketing is surrounding people with enough information that they feel like they’re going through a self-discovery process and the product becomes them the more they discover. They bond to the product and the brand. When they pick up a brand, a lot of people think of brand in terms of logo because that’s what originally was. Brand literally comes from branding cattle. What I tend to look at it though is the attribute. I go back to the cattle and go, “What kind of cattle gets that brand?” It’s an excellent cattle or product. When I buy a product for brand, I’m taking the attribute of the product and attaching it to my personality. I only have space for five or six of those brands in my life that are mine. A German automobile will be a brand that I will attach to myself for pride, ego, quality and speed issues. I want the association of that. I’m a person that will wear Levi’s because I like the association of a $30 pair of pants that’s rugged and lasts for twenty years. I’m not something that’s fashionable. We all do that. If you’d learned to advertise like that, you’ll learn to build tribes of consumers that are huge.
I love that you focus on building the tribe. This does come back from your grocery store days. As a grocery store, you’re not focused on selling any individual products. You’re focused on making sure that your customers want to come back time and time again and that they have a wonderful experience.
You never know who you’re talking to. In my grocery store in Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, we had a cooking kiosk. That was where we did demonstrations and that’s how we upped the game of our customers to get them to buy more and better, expensive exotic foods. This is in the late 1980s, early ‘90s. We’re trying to grow the volume of the store. We couldn’t grow the footprint of the store so we could only grow the spend. How to get people to spend more money? Teach them to eat better more expensive food. From 4:00 to 8:00, we would have a cooking kiosk, a little kitchenette that we put in the front of the store we had a French chef, Chef Jack, he’d come in and he’d cook. Every day, this little old black lady would come in and her name was Sarah. Sarah was a cooky. She seems like she might have had some issues. She was 75 or 80 years old and when it rains, she’d come in with a produce bag on her head to keep the rain off her head.
She was missing a couple of teeth and she has a Louisiana, Mississippi accent. I would get her a folding chair and put her in front of the cooking kiosks and she would sit there for three hours and watch whatever Chef Jack cooked. This went on for several months. I had no idea who this person was. I was being kind to her and she was my first person in the audience. Wherever she sat, suddenly there was a crowd around her so it was cool. About three months into this process, one night, a massive limousine pulls up in front of this tiny little grocery store in the middle of nowhere in Seattle. This guy gets out of the limousine. This is 1987 or 1988. I want you to picture where we were culturally and musically then. This man walks into the store, out of this limousine and my jaw hit the floor because it was Quincy Jones who produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” He did “We are the World.” He was the biggest music producer on the planet earth at that moment. Here he was in my little store. I looked at him and I said, “Can I help you?” He looked at me and he said, “I’m looking for my mama.” Sarah was Sarah Jones and was Quincy Jones’ mother. He profusely thanked me because she had told him what good care we’d been taking of her for months. I was flabbergasted by that experience as a young person going, “You never know what good you’re doing in the world and who you’re talking to and who you’re one conversation away from.”
It’s so important and I agree with you. Many people, especially in marketing, are caught up in trying to hang out with the cool people. They’ll often put down somebody that they think is insignificant, only to find out that somebody is connected or best friends with someone or is a very powerful person. I had a similar story, not as powerful, but we used to have interns that work at a film company that I used to work at. Everyone treated them badly and there was this fifteen-year-old girl that came to work there. I always treated the interns with respect. Because she was younger and underage, everyone gave her a hard time. I was nice to her. Production cycles happen and they fire the entire production team and rehire them. The entire production got shut down from that one particular show. I got called by Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s daughter. She phones me up out of the blue and she was the owner of the production company. I was like, “That was a bit strange.” She goes, “I heard that when my niece was working as an intern, you were the only one that was nice to her. Where do you want to work in the company?” That’s how I ended up becoming a public relations manager. She’s like, “You’ve been doing a good job in PR. Do you want to run the department for a while?” I was like, “Sure.”
A great rule to live by is deal with people who have a decent character who are treating people below them decently. I make a lot of judgments about people. Someone will go to a nice restaurant with me and they’ll either take me there or I’ll go there. They think that how we act or talk about the wine is who we are. I watch how they interact with the waitstaff. I freak people out because I invariably, immediately asked the waitstaff’s names and I utilized their actual names throughout the entire meal. A lot of people don’t do that. I judge who I’m working with on whether they do those kinds of things because there’s nobody that’s insignificant unless you’re treating people as if they’re insignificant. Those are the people like, “I don’t care if they’re Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, wife or mother at that point. If you’re treating people like crap, I don’t care.”The more expensive something is, the longer the sales cycle. Click To Tweet
This is important as well. A good friend of mine, Ryan Stewman, has this phrase which I love, “If you sell to the classes, you’ll dine with the masses but if you sell to the masses, you’ll dine with the classes.” He talks about the importance of treating everyday people like they’re incredible because that’s how you get the big following. The ones to give you a lot of money because the masses believe in you and they love you and that’s where you’ll make the most of your wealth.
I follow Ryan Stewman online. I know you guys are good friends. I like him very much. I communicate with him rarely but I love the man. I love everything that he puts out there. I wrote a book in 2011. It’s a very similar thing that we said in the book was, “I’m not trying to make $1 million from anybody. I’m trying to make $1 from everybody.”
It’s so true. You can only do that if you treat people like people.
Provide things that are useful. Don’t sell crap. What an awful idea.
Ron, I always ask people, what’s one psychological hack that you could share with somebody that might give someone big insight into you or they can take the essence of Ron and inject it into their business? What’s one simple psychological hack that you might want to be able to leave people with?
One, try not to use the word “and” in your copy. If you’re using the word “and” you probably have two sentences and don’t realize it. Two, find the three questions that sell your product before they know what your product is. It’s very simple to do. I’ll give you an example. Wouldn’t it be great if you could close people with three questions before they knew what the product was? Did you know that there are three specific designed questions that you can learn that anybody can teach themselves? I can teach you and you’ll remember it forever. Are you curious? If you want to know what the three are, I absolutely can give them to you. Click the link below.
That copywriting script right there, as simple as it is, would transform almost anybody’s advertising.
If you could come up with the three questions, they do specific things psychologically. The first question, make the consumer self-identify that you’re going to solve their problem. If it was weight loss, you could say, “Are you tired of that belly fat? Would you like to finally get the shortcut to six-pack abs that you always wanted?” They’re the same question, one is asking the positive like and one is asking the negative like but they self-qualify the audience. The second question is a hint at the innovation that you’re about to deliver them and they can obtain it. “Did you know that there is a new dietary shortcut? It’s nutritional. It’s not even eating less. It might even be eating more for you, that’s going to give you those six-pack abs in under six weeks if you can stick to it.” You’ve told me there’s innovation and I don’t know what it is. I’m leaning in farther into the business. The third one is offer. “I can show you how you can get that. It’s in a white paper that I’ll deliver to you. Send me your email address.”
If you don’t go instantly and change your advertising and add this, you’re missing out. That is such a huge psychic run. If someone is reading this and they’re like, “I love this guy. I want to work with him,” what’s the best thing somebody can do?
You could go to the Facebook page BIG BABY Agency. On that, pinned near the top, there will be a video and you’ll see me and my lovely wife on a deck with a glass of wine and it’s notoriously called the Pizza Video. It’s got 600,000 views. In 25 minutes, I’ll show you exactly how to create a series of ads and the proper path psychologically to walk people through the thing that I did, which is ad number one through ad number nine to efficiently capture any customer for any product. At the end, fire anybody who’s not a customer to optimize your media. In the future, you’ll get customers cheaper every time you redo the cycle.
Ron, you are incredible and everyone reading, thank you so much for taking the time to once again tune in to the Psychology Hacker show.
About Ron Lynch
Ron Lynch is The Godfather in the infomercial world. He’s collectively sold over $2 Billion in products that include:
George Foreman Grill, JuiceMan Juicer, OxiClean, SonicCare Toothbrush, The Ultimate Chopper along with an endless list of familiar infomercial products & who was the mind behind GoPro Launch and Media…he has authored 12 screenplays and wrote the book “Buy Now” – Definitive Guide to Infomercial Creation… and is set to take the IMParty stage in just a few weeks!
Heard of the company called Guthy Renker? They put Tony Robbins on the map, and Proactiv skincare… and several billion dollars worth of other infomercial products… well Ron’s a partner with Guthy-Renker. So yeah… he’s kind of a big deal.