Momentum Podcast: 162

Vitamin Versus Painkiller

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

This concept can make or break your business. It doesn't matter what kind of product you sell, if you sell it as a painkiller you have a lot better chances of succeeding. 

Listen as I coach one of our clients through this concept, and share with him a time I used it to sell over $10 million in product on live television. 

Thanks to Justin Light on my team, there is a second audio. You will hear me and Coleen Lopez kick off a Today's Special on Home Shopping Network.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution, and we always will be. Vitamin versus painkiller in real life.

I'm really excited to share this episode with you tonight because [J-Light 00:01:15], Justin Light on my team went out and found two really cool clips, two audio clips that I'm going to share with you that demonstrate this concept of vitamin versus painkiller, and if you haven't heard the podcast on this already, go back and listen to it. It's called exactly that, vitamin versus painkiller. And here's why this concept is so important. The vast majority of purchases in the world are made to alleviate pain. They are not made to increase pleasure. The problem is a lot of entrepreneurs try to sell products that increase pleasure or just as bad, don't specifically alleviate a pain point, and I coach entrepreneurs on this constantly because if you ever catch yourself selling something other than a painkiller, you are going to have a tremendous uphill climb, because when people are buying painkillers, as long as you convince them that you're the solution and they have a problem, and they need something to be a solution, they're going to buy. People buy painkillers because they need them. The problem with pleasure based products is they have to want them. And the world of needs is far greater than the world of wants that people can afford.

And so selling painkillers, or presenting your product as a painkiller is where most people are going to spend their money. And so the first clip that Justin found is me sharing with one of our clients a story of one of my today's specials at Home Shopping Network. This was when we were doing a console DVD recorder. It goes in your home audio system, and it's a replacement for a VCR. I explain more in the clip, but when I was given the assignment of selling over $10 million of this product in 24 hours because I worked with a DVD company to create a product for Home Shopping Network, and we had done portable DVDs. We had done home DVDs. But then they handed us this DVD recorder and said, "Hey, can ewe do this?" And I figured out a way to sell a uneducated electronics consumer a DVD recorded. Here's the clip of me explaining it to one of our clients.

So every product that someone buys is to eliminate pain or to increase pleasure. Now, if you guys think about your life, how many of the products that you buy do you think legitimately were purchased to increase pleasure? Like what percentage? Look at everything you own and most of what you'll find is that we buy stuff to eliminate pain. We don't go out and spend money on pleasure, and so if you sell a pleasure based product like Mercedes does, you have to spend an incredible amount of money maintaining a brand that says you are a pleasure based product. If you eliminate pain, you don't have to spend barely any money. Go online, and some of the best selling online products, no one's ever heard of them because they're not doing any brand advertising. They're not doing any marketing and advertising. Somebody has a pain. They put out an ad that says if you have this pain we can help you. Somebody clicks. There's a convincing argument and they buy. And so whenever we're selling, we want to sell a painkiller over a vitamin. So Devin, you have to ask yourself what pain is the product that I'm selling solving on the other side. And dude, sometimes it's hard.

One time at Home Shopping Network, I was selling a DVD recorder. It was a DVD console recorder, and what it did was it replaced the VCR. Like half the people ... well, maybe not half but some of the people on this call are like, "What are those two products even? What does that even mean?" So I was selling the replacement for a VCR. A VCR was a vitamin. It's like, hey, you can record stuff. Now, it was like I had the ultimate vitamin. Nobody even used their VCR and I was saying you should buy a replacement for it. And the way that I sold it was by telling the audience that all of the tapes that they had were degrading and they could lose them, and once they copied them over to optical media, they wouldn't go away. And I started the appearance on Home Shopping by getting super serious with everyone. I was like, "Were going to show you an exciting product tonight, but I feel the need to let you all know that I also want to share something really important with you because I know a lot of you have bought VCRs and vide cassette recorders." By the way, this is all history for those of you who are under, like 30.

And I said, "And you might have all of these medias in your house." And I showed them, and I said, "They're holding your memories and they're all starting to fade away, and for some of you, that might be all you have." And the phones lit up. They didn't even know what I was selling. We started selling them because I figured out, what pain could this resolve. And when I was first doing that, I was like, man. Is this even real? Am I going to feel like I can't sleep at night if I say this? And then I looked at it and I'm like, no. HSN has sold millions of these tape recorders, and people's tapes ... it's magnetic. It really does go away. And seven or eight weeks later, I was on Home Shopping, and a woman called in, and she was like, "I just want to say that Alex saved us on the today's special about the optical recorded. We got it to our house, started transferring all of our video tape, and we realized we already had two or three tapes that had gone bad. We can't imagine what would've happened if we hadn't seen that.

And so you just find a pain that you can extinguish for your avatar and speak directly to that. So what is the pain they're feeling? If you're selling barbecue accessories, it's like what do they want to be in. Ed did it by showing them the value out of being part of an association, which is in and of itself a painkiller because people want to belong. So what is it that you're doing? When you're selling a physical good, you're solving some kind of pain. It's a pricing pain. It's a delivery pain. It's a features and benefits pain. Something about the alternative is hurting your client, and so you need figure out what is your product defending against. And where it gets hard is if you're out just buying products that fill a need and don't have any benefit, then it gets hard. So you have to figure out how you're going to build benefit into your product that you can talk about. And how does that product become a painkiller?

So that's the explanation, and what Justin found is so cool. This is the actual audio from Home Shopping Network. This is me and Colleen Lopez, one of the ... I mean, this woman has sold billions of dollars in products. It's amazing, the numbers at Home Shopping. We did over $10 million in 24 hours with this product. Here is the kickoff appearance on Home Shopping. Me and Colleen Lopez ... check this out. You'll see my voice is a little bit different back then.

Let's go into why somebody would need this because a lot of people are saying, "Well, I have a VCR and I have a DVD player, and I don't really know why I'd need a DVD burner." But you know what? There's something very important that most of the population doesn't know. If you have your memories stored on tape whether it's a VHS tape, whether it's a VHSC, an 8 millimeter, a little DVM, any one of these magnetic medias actually starts to degrade in as little as five years. In fact, if you took the tape, let's say of your wedding, or of your child's birth, or of a first communion, or whatever you've taped, and you take that tape, you put it in a vault, you air seal it so that nothing can get to it, it's still degrading in as little as five years. So think, how old is your wedding tape? Right? You take that tape and you transfer it to DVD using our player, which we're going to show you how. It's a new technology but it's not that hard. But you take that tape, you transfer the information to a DVD, and this DVD now can last up to 100 years. It's completely different than anything that we've had with a magnetic media.

Colleen Lopez:


Alex Charfen:

It simply isn't out there.

To give you an idea of how well that worked, at the time that we were selling that DVD recorder on television for 24 hours, only 24 hours, Best Buy had about 1,000 stores in the United States and every week they were selling about 200 DVD recorders. 200. We went on TV and we sold 12,000 in 24 hours. And I think actually, the highest number we show on the videos as I say that, I think it was 14,000. But the highest I could verify by going back through my archives was 12,000. But the numbers got crazy, and selling that product on Home Shopping in the way that we did, like you heard, sold it in a way that it hadn't been sold that way anywhere else, and what happened was it threw the whole market off. Two manufacturers started manufacturing DVD console recorders based on the numbers that were shown by Home Shopping because companies share their metadata. They share how many of an item they sell so that all the retailers know what's working and that metadata is sold and resold. And so people kept seeing this massive spike in DVD recorders and manufacturers actually produced around it because they don't get details behind what the deals were.

They just see numbers and it was just bad product, because no one ever cracked the code on selling it again. It didn't work well the second time that we tried it at Home Shopping. It did okay the first time. We sold everyone who was looking for that specific painkiller and it was pretty intense. We really actually had a woman call ... I was on Home Shopping a lot. And there was more than once where I had someone call in and thank me for selling them the DVD recorder while they wanted to give a testimonial for something else, but they would always say something like, "Alex helped us save all of our videos and all of our memories," and it was always pretty awesome after that. With that today's special, we set a record for consumer electronic sales in 24 hours at Home Shopping, and it was crazy that we did it with a product like a DVD recorder. We came back and broke that record with a portable DVD player again, but that was a pretty intense time in my life. I was spending an incredible amount of time on live TV and it's pretty exciting to be able to share it with you all.

So if you haven't yet, go over to Get a copy of my book, the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. If you've always known you were meant for something more, if you've known that you could be more, do more, contribute more, but you know there's something in your way, let me show you why you feel sometimes like you're not doing what you should do and not what you know you should do. And let me show you why we all get into loops and spirals that hold us in place, or even worse, move us backwards, and let me show you how you are different from the rest of the world, but let me show you exactly why so that you can start creating momentum on demand and stop feeling like you've been constrained, held down, held back, or suppressed. The entrepreneurial personality type will help you understand yourself better than any other book ever will if you are an EPT. I'll leave it to you to figure out by downloading the book. Go to

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