I hate StubHub…
Hamilton the musical is coming to Omaha in September. Tickets went on sale this morning.
Because of its popularity, they had waiting room software. You preload a page on your computer, and when tickets go on sale you are assigned a spot in the queue.
So I did that this morning, and was in about the 4000th spot.
As I was waiting for tickets to become available, I popped over to StubHub to see if people were already selling them.
They weren’t, but StubHub was.
This show has a limit of four tickets per household. Presumably to prevent scalping. But somehow StubHub already had blocks of 75 tickets per show, that they were selling for prices starting at $300 — more than twice what I’d end up paying buying them direct.
This is actually how StubHub makes a lot of money. They make arrangements with venues or ticketing providers to get blocks of tickets ahead of time. And when the tickets go on sale, they immediately sell them at even higher prices.
They’re not bringing any value to the equation. All that they are doing is increasing the average ticket price paid to attend whatever event.
It was the same when I saw the band Tool earlier this year. They had the same system where you were in a digital queue to get tickets. But somehow ahead of time StubHub was able to get blocks of tickets that they were scalping.
I do think a marketplace for secondhand tickets is valuable. But I also think that this part of their business is predatory. Especially for a show where I can’t even buy five tickets together for my family because of ticket limits.
If you think this is unfair and are kind of hating StubHub, you just learned a selling lesson…
In this case, I use the story without having an associated sales pitch. But if I did have some alternative to StubHub, or a way to get back at them that I was selling, the story above would be especially powerful.
Because it harnesses the power of the enemy.
If you were reading the story above and immediately feeling like you were taking my side, it did its job. (It also happens to be true.)
You see, when you sell, your prospect automatically feels like they are against you.
The default of selling is conflict — you versus prospect.
And the unspoken, subconscious conflict inherent in selling actually makes the selling job much harder.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Selling is so much easier when you and your prospect are on the same side…
When you’re able to align your interests with your prospect’s, they are more prone to believe you, agree with you, and take you up on whatever offer you have.
And one of the fastest ways to get them on your side is to point to a common enemy.
Politics is the obvious example today. But the current state of politics is so stupid that I don’t feel like using the example. Politicians on both sides are selling their next election through divisiveness, when if they were acting like grownups they would actually be leading the country for the common good.
Still, it is proof that the principle is powerful.
When you have a common enemy with your prospect, they will align with you and even fight for you. They will advocate for your success, rather than fighting you every step of the way.
Simply by pointing at that enemy and making a big deal of it, every other element of persuasion and selling becomes almost automatic.
What kind of enemies can you sell against?
This takes a lot of thought, thought that’s well worth it as a copywriter, salesperson, or other persuader.
Because with one good enemy, you have the seeds of countless effective selling messages.
There are personal enemies. I was talking to Perry Marshall yesterday about his Swiss Army Knife training. In it, he gives the example of ads for a marriage product. And he nailed down that women who would want to buy the product were enemies with “the other woman.” And in that one phrase, he captured huge emotional impact.
There are also social, political, and cultural enemies. Today, for the left, that’s Trump. For the right, AOC. During practically the entire Obama presidency, he was a powerful enemy used in selling messages for financial newsletters. There was even one sales letter selling and energy stock service with the headline “Obama’s third term.” It works.
But you don’t have to turn into someone who is picking fights all the time. In fact, some of the more subtle enemies can be even more powerful.
Lies and misinformation are an enemy. This can point back towards a greater enemy, such as the sugar industry that paid off Harvard scientists to pitch fake research on low-fat diets. Or it can be more generally directed at the media, who isn’t telling you the whole truth about whatever topic.
Confusion is also an enemy. Having the wrong story, or not enough information, can be positioned as the enemy. The enemy is not knowing. “I tried to get XYZ benefit, but I had no clue the exact method that would get me there. And so I struggled. Thankfully, eventually I found the way. But I can tell you this. If you don’t know the way, you’ll never get the result. And I know how difficult and frustrating that can be. So I am here to help people like you beat that uncertainty and confusion by giving you a clear path.”
Shame can be a huge enemy. I cover this in my Emotional Direct Response Copywriting training. Shame can be personified and anthropomorphized to be the monster holding you down. And when you feel shame, it often feels that way. If you are selling to someone and you point at their own internal sense of shame as your common enemy that you want to work with them to defeat, that is very hard to argue with.
Or perhaps there is something else that has been done to them directly or indirectly that is holding them back. If there is something that you can identify is a common experience among your prospects, that can be the enemy.
This is worth some serious thought…
— What enemies exist in your marketplace, that you can help your prospects fight?
— What enemies are your prospects already aligned against at an emotional level?
— What enemy is creating or contributing to the problem that your offer helps your prospects solve?
Maybe there is a person you can point to. Maybe there is an organization or cultural system. Maybe it’s something more intangible, but still recognizable.
Think about it.
Really spend some time with it.
Because if you find this one thing, it alone could be a massive breakthrough.
Now who’s ready to go throw some stones at StubHub?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,