Giants of Marketing: P.T. Barnum by Thirteen05

My current reading is “Twenty Ads That Shook The World,” the first chapter of which is about P.T.Barnum. Coincidentally, I went to the circus last night. Barnum never said “There’s a sucker born every minute” but he DID invent the slogan “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
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More than 150 years later, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is still using that slogan and still following the successful actions established by probably the greatest self-promoter in American history. Almost every second of their show last night was a tribute to Barnum’s genius, right down to the midget, now called “Nano.”
Their use of technology is totally 21st century (I’ve never seen the likes of the projection screens they used), but the high-wire acts, elephants, big cat tamer, even the clowns with brooms warming up the crowd – they’ve been doing it that way and it’s been working since 1850.
Great, great entertainment. It’s a SHOW people come for, and they deliver. And they deliver by promoting everything they do in their marketing, in the lead-up to the acts and in the acts themselves.
Barnum these days is associated with deception and overly-hyped advertising. But he invented many advertising techniques now standard or long-since worn out. The farewell tour, limited edition, once-in-a-lifetime offers, all Barnum inventions.
P.T.Barnum was a man who knew that people buy the sizzle, not the steak. And despite his deteriorated reputation, he largely delivered, left people satisfied, and got rich and famous. In his time his was probably the most well known name on Earth.
Most businessmen should be pleased to do one tenth as well.

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