Wisdom from a different (Internet) age

It doesn’t happen very often, but I was pointed to an online article recently that dates back almost a decade. The Pitchman is a story by Malcolm Gladwell about “Ron Popeil, who invented a better rotisserie in his kitchen and went out and pitched it himself.”

“Like most great innovations, it was disruptive. And how do you persuade people to disrupt their lives? Not merely by ingratiation or sincerity, and not by being famous or beautiful. You have to explain the invention to customers– not once or twice but three or four times, with a different twist each time. You have to show them exactly how it works and why it works, and make them follow your hands as you chop liver with it, and then tell them precisely how it fits into their routine, and, finally, sell them on the paradoxical fact that, revolutionary as the gadget is, it’s not at all hard to use.”

“in every respect the design of the product must support the transparency and effectiveness of its performance during a demonstration – the better it looks onstage, the easier it is for the pitchman to … ask for the money.”

While Ron and the article are focused on gadgets and devices, the above holds true for any kind of innovation that you’re trying to convince people to buy, or in the case of a free service, just to use.

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