Victoria’s Real Secret May Surprise You
Although it’s no longer printed, just about everyone has seen a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Filled with attractive models wearing lingerie and swimwear, every edition was based on the same successful formula: high-quality photographs of young, attractive women showing lots of skin. Did Victoria really have a secret? She did. And it can make you more successful, a better communicator, and it might even change your life!
Episode 25 - Victoria's Real Secret May Surprise You
Although it’s no longer printed, just about everyone has seen a Victoria’s Secret catalog. At the height of its popularity, it was filled with attractive models wearing lingerie and swimwear. Every edition was based on the same successful formula: high-quality photographs of young, attractive women showing lots of skin.
In August of 1997, the Entertainment Channel aired a one-hour special showcasing the company and its models. During the program, the company credited its use of “supermodels” as a major factor in the catalog’s popularity—and the resulting sales.
According to the company’s spokesperson, it was the models’ physical beauty – their sex appeal and “that special look” – that sold clothes. One of the company’s associates even went so far as to assert that Victoria’s Secret models were of such rare beauty, there were only twenty women in the entire world as attractive — and Victoria’s Secret had five of them.
The program was presented with such a seamless flourish, with such apparent credibility, the comment flew across the airwaves and into the ears of panting viewers without challenge. The producers, executives, and others having responsibility for the program’s content obviously thought the statement too innocuous to worry about.
But think about it . . .
Only fifteen other women in the entire world as attractive as the five supermodels in the Victoria Secret’s catalog.
Do you believe it?
Hey, welcome back! This is Roger Reid with another episode of Success Point 360.
If I were going to wager on the minimum number of women in the entire world that would be considered as attractive as Victoria’s Secret’s supermodels, instead of the twenty total as claimed by the spokesperson, I would bet there’s at least twenty-one. Or maybe, twenty-two. Or even—dare I say it—more.
Here’s the point: By Victoria Secret’s assertion that the level of beauty exhibited by their models was limited to only twenty women in the entire world, the company was attempting to create “fact”—and in this case, a sense of exclusivity—by sheer statement.
And at the time, it worked.
It worked because of a marketing principle that states that the buying public will believe just about anything—as long as (1) the source is believed credible, and (2) it does not contradict what they already KNOW to be true.
Obviously, the primary purpose of the Victoria’s Secret program was to entertain. It made for great viewing, and the public learned more about the company and its mission.
And for a moment, you really believed that, didn’t you?
You’ve just personally experienced useful fiction.
In reality, the purpose of the program was to bring Victoria’s Secret out of the shopping mall and into the living rooms of several million prospective customers, many of whom became more familiar with the company and its products. And more important, they became more comfortable with the idea of buying from Victoria’s Secret.
As a selling tool, it was a brush with brilliance. The program presented the company as sophisticated, sexy, and fun — just like the clothes they sold!
And as I watched the models posing and the host chatting about the possibility of a real woman named Victoria and what her secret might be, I also realized how easy it would be for viewers to believe they could become a part of Victoria’s Secret’s world of glamorous fashion by simply purchasing their clothes. From the standpoint of raw marketing power, it just doesn’t get any better.
Here’s a more recent example drawn from the entertainment world: In late 2018, the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was released in theaters. It’s a stylized semi-biographical account of Freddie Mercury, including his start in the music business, his rise to fame as the front-man for Queen, and his early death as a victim of aids.
Many music “insiders” criticized the movie as being full of historical inaccuracies. For example, there is a character in the movie that makes the statement, “Queen is the most popular band in the world.”
There was no justification for it, it was just a statement presented as fact. It wasn’t based on the number of records sold or the total amount of income the band has generated. As I said, it was just a statement, made to influence viewers, to make the band and its historical impact on the world of music appear to be much larger than it really was.
Did it work?
In the first six months following its release, the movie grossed over nine hundred million. By now, that figure is probably closer to a billion dollars. It was the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2018, and it won four Oscars.
So I think it’s safe to say that the promotional efforts—both overt and “embedded”—were very successful.
The use of persuasive marketing to increase consumption is not new. Building popularity by sheer statement is common in the entertainment business. It’s part of the hype that powers the industry. And even though many of the details attributed to musicians, actors, and others who make their living in show business are exaggerations, or at the very least, a stretching of the truth, we accept the claims of outlandish success with a receptive and open mind . . . because we want to believe the best about our heroes and superstars—the people who sell us fantasy and escape, topped off with a dash of hope.
So, what do these stories mean to your business? What do they mean to you personally? It means you can (and should) create your own story. Because every business, every professional needs a story.
Maybe it’s a tale about your company’s history—how you got your start, or the obstacles you had to overcome. If any of those challenges were of a personal nature, consider revealing them, especially if it highlights your sacrifice for others, your efforts to maintain a sterling character, or making a moral or ethical choice that cost you in the short term, but proved to be the right move over the long-haul—and looking back, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
But what if your history is nothing special. What if there’s no highlights or special claims to fame that can be attributed to your startup efforts?
Many business histories are created, or at the very least, embellished. Take a moment to think about your own business. What made it successful? What personal sacrifices had to be made? Who is associated with its success? Do these people have any notoriety or accomplishments within or outside your industry?
A good story can help establish very powerful levels of rapport.
The reason is simple. Because people love a good story. They like to hear about success, about the good guy winning the prize.
And you did win, didn’t you? You overcame a hundred sleep-robbing problems and prevailed through countless nerve-wracking trials as you pushed your new business toward success. You were determined to make it. You were a tiny David taking on the giant Goliaths of the business world. And you survived—and flourished. And now, you bring that determined, winning spirit to everything you do, especially as you strive to satisfy every customer.
Because For you, it’s personal.
How’s that for piling on the crap?
I know, some of you are shaking your heads, saying, I could never do that.
But I’m telling you, it works. People relish hearing stories of heroes and conquest. They swoon, cry, and cheer — and, they spend their money — because they hear about the good guy winning.
So let them fall in love with your story.
Creating your story is just like preparing an elevator pitch. Start by putting together a brief overview of how you got your start, and why you were motivated to work in your chosen industry. If you’re an employee, talk about how and why you choose the company you work for. Tell clients why you’re happy with your choice, why you enjoy your job, and why the relationship between you and your employer has been beneficial and advantageous to customers.
And finally, I want to caution you to avoid turning your personal story into a brag fest. The point of telling others about your history, your motivation, and why you do what you do, is to make them feel comfortable, to find common ground, to show your intentions are focused and centered in the right place. Be humble and modest. Any reference to your accomplishments should be presented as examples to others, to motivate and inspire.
You did it, and they can do it too. And you’re ready to help them get started.
I’ll be right back with a question from a listener.
This question comes from Thomas, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Reading from his email, he asks, “I’m building an online training business and I’m in the process of creating content in the form of a book and a follow-up online training course.
“When is my work good enough? What standard should I use as a comparison? I keep editing the original manuscript because I keep second-guessing what customers are going to want, and the quality they will expect.
Am I over-concerned about the quality? I’m trying to establish myself as a professional. And I’m worried that my word will be thought of as generic, just another book that has nothing significant to add, nothing ground-breaking.”
There’s really two parts to this answer, and both are equally important: First, who is your audience? Can you identify the most likely group of people who are going to find your content interesting, informative, and useful.
Thirty years ago, publishing entrepreneurs used to recommend writing content based on one of the three holy grails of public interest: The first was how to make money, the second was maintaining and improving your health, and the third was sex and relationships. And as long as the content fell into one of those three categories, the quality of the writing and presentation was always thought to be secondary to the usefulness of the material, which was often referred to in the ad copy as plain language, or conversational style.
In other words, as long as the audience found the content useful – which was measured by a low refund rate – things like grammar, punctuation, and writing style was not a primary consideration.
But that hierarchy is no longer true.
Yes, the topic of money still perks up a lot of ears, but it’s like a flash on the horizon. And like most clickbait, it grabs the attention, but if you don’t immediately present specific and useful information, you lose eyes very quickly, as well as the opportunity to make secondary sales to the same buyer.
The reason is, we’ve seen the headline that promises instant, easy wealth, too many times. We’re skeptical. And if we’ve previously spent money on a similar offer that didn’t provide us with real value, we’re more than skeptical—we’re suspicious.
So, Thomas, you didn’t include the topic or subject of your work in your email, but if it has anything to do with money, you need to qualify the advice with personal experience, either yours or someone who is known within the industry and has either endorsed your work or is associated with it by their contribution. And you’ll need to do quickly, convincing potential customers that your advice and methods have real merit, and is worth every penny of your asking price. Otherwise, they’re going to bounce, moving on to the next shiny thing that grabs their attention.
So your first task is to identify the most likely audience for your work. Twenty years ago, that could mean describing them by demographic criteria, but today, you want to identify a situation or a set of circumstances that are common to the group. For example, you might choose an audience consisting of stay at home dads, or retired seniors ready to re-enter the job market, or what about millennials who need advice on designing a self-directed investment program to ensure their future retirement is well funded?
On the flip side, if you tell me that your content is for everybody, that it’s so universally applicable, that everyone who reads it or hears about it is going to want to own it, you’re going to be disappointed with your sales effort. Our culture has become too fragmented, too specialized, for everyone to have the same or even similar level of receptivity to a single source of content – about anything.
So identify your audience, learn what challenges and problems they face and write for them. Satisfy their wants and needs, and deliver your content In a form that meets their preferred modality and format.
The second part of the answer has to do with when to stop creating and start shipping. And this probably goes more to the very heart of your question: “When is it good enough?” When can you say, “I’m done, and I’m ready to offer my creation to the market?”
The process of improving the original content through editing, polishing, and fine-tuning is important. And, if some or all of your presentation is in an audio format, your audience will judge your voice, it’s resonance, tone, and pitch, as well as your rate of speech. If it’s video, they’ll judge your appearance, what you’re wearing, the environment you’re in, and whether there are interruptions in the form of background noise or movement. And they will make that judgment first, before they’ve evaluated the merit of your content. In other words, if your delivery method tends to reduce your credibility, or if they have difficulty understanding you, they’re going to hit the stop button regardless of the importance of your message.
So yes, if your content is in writing, check the spelling, punctuation, and word usage. You can certainly use a professional editor, but too much editing by someone who doesn’t understand the subject, the industry, or the business, can change the voice, take away the urgency, and reduce the intensity.
Allowing an editor to change your thoughts, your examples, or the order of your presentation might make your work more scholarly, but it can also weaken it, dull the edge so that it looks and sounds just like all the other blog posts, articles, or books out there that have been written on the same subject. So before you pay anyone to look at your work, I strongly recommend using Grammarly. There’s a free version, but if you want to get the most from the program, buy the subscription and take advantage of everything the software can do.
Above all, avoid the temptation to dumb it down. I’ve seen beautifully written, extremely articulate work reduced to its lowest common denominator because the author believed it would appeal and sell to a larger audience. But what they learned is that the so-called larger audience was not their audience. And because they reduced the impact of the original work, the audience for which the work was intended—those who would have been receptive buyers— is not interested in what has become another generic offering that looks and sounds like all the books and programs on the same subject.
So create work that is authentically yours, that establishes your brand, your name, your identity, and presents you as someone who understands not only the subject, but the circumstances and situations of those who can best benefit from it.
Hey, that’s it for this episode. And, this also concludes season two of Successpoint360. I’ll be back in several weeks with season three, and I promise a few surprises, a special guest or two. In the meantime, I urge you to check back for bonus episodes in which I’ll have more information about my new book, to be released on October 15 on Amazon. It’s titled, “Better Mondays – the New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom While Working for the Man.”
I’ll be featuring a free chapter download as well as reading some of the content in that bonus episode. It’s available now for pre-order in Kindle or softcover. And if you’re interested in the audio version, that will be available about mid-November.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all your comments, suggestions, and questions during this season, so please keep your emails and voice messages coming. You can use the voicemail tab on the mail header of the successpoint360 website, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.
© 2020, Roger A. Reid, All Rights Reserved
Contact the author at: email@example.com