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Yes you read that correctly, and no, it’s not just a lame attempt to grab your attention and then pull the old bait and switch on you… So what am I talking about? Well first let me give you the short version of the John Brinkley story and then I will explain how it applies to the car business.
In 1918 “Dr.” John Brinkley (after years of selling patent medications and various other quackery) opened a clinic in Milford, Kansas where he began performing a procedure promising to restore virility and cure the “sexually weak”. As you no doubt have guessed based on the title of this post, the procedure involved transplanting the goat glands into the patient.
Now you may not be shocked to learn that there were often complications with the procedure. He had next to no actual credentials as a doctor, often performed the operations while intoxicated and paid less attention to contamination and germs than the doctor from Dirty Dancing.
What may surprise you though is that rather than being chased out of town with pitchforks, Brinkley was absolutely ADORED by the general public. He built his business with direct mail and eventually radio, becoming incredibly famous and bringing tons of money into the town and the state. After the American Medical Association finally caught up with him and revoked his license he ran for Governor as a write in candidate and would’ve won if not for a large portion of his votes not getting counted on a technicality.
After his campaign he took to the airwaves dispensing medical advice and shilling products for advertisers. When his radio license was taken away he set up the first ultra powerful “border blaster” radio station just inside the Mexico border, and kept right at it…
Eventually he was shut down, sued, and died crippled and penniless.
So. How does this apply in any way to the car business?
Well by no means am I suggesting that anyone do anything dishonest to make a buck. But we can still learn a thing or two from Brinkley such as:
No matter what method of advertising he was using he focused on offering the prospect what THEY were looking for. The focus of his advertising was the result he was promising (turning a hapless man into “the ram that am with every lamb”) he didn’t spend much time focusing on the goat…
He embraced different methods. He made a fortune with direct mail before he was introduced to radio and became a pioneer in that industry. Does that mean that he gave up on the mail? No, he used the techniques he’d been successful with in the mail as a foundation to make a fortune on the radio.
And before you say it was just because people were stupid back then, keep in mind they would probably feel the same way about financing a vehicle over 96 months…
Instead of thinking the old methods of advertising don’t work anymore now that the internet exists, why don’t you join me in taking the lessons of the old school and apply them to the modern technology?
I mean really, if a guy can sell goat testicle surgery through the mail, we should be able to get someone to give us their email address and phone number shouldn’t we?