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Selling Like Billy Mays: Five Essential Character Traits That Make a Product Easy to Sell

by Barry Densa  |  
January 26, 2010
  |  3,116 views

Billy Mays, who, sadly, passed away at age 50, was a potbellied, black-bearded Atlantic City carnival barker who wore a blue long-sleeve shirt and a white undershirt.

He had a loud, shrill, and annoyingly exuberant voice. And he seemed to lean forward, through the TV screen, and put his nose in your face, the way only pitchmen do.

Madison Avenue–style brand marketers who believe that asking for an order even once, unless it's in small gray type, is undignified, contemptible, and just plain bad manners, loathed him.

Direct marketers idolized him.

Consumers, well, they either loved or hated him, or were totally unaware of him (presumably TiVo owners).


The bottom line: Mays sold the hell out of stuff. And he didn't have to reinvent the wheel to do it.

He bellied-up to bar with the TV viewer and spoke straight and to the point: You got a problem, I've got the solution; I can guarantee it or your money back; buy it now, and I'll make you an even better deal.

He was inelegant, but he sold and made millions. Not through artifice—there was no false imagery, cheating, or stealing—but with great showmanship and...


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Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter at Writing With Personality. For more, visit his blog Marketing Wit & Wisdom.

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