Drinking Motivational KoolAid: How It All Works Financially

get-motivatedMany read my article on how the Mind Body Spirit world is established to financially hook one into spending lots of money. Now, the industry’s tactics have expanded into luring former US Presidents into pimping — errr, fronting for them.

George W. Bush the 43rd President of the United States has passed on the Council of Foreign Leaders and other high-brow presidential forums to shill for the $19, come-one come-all, big-tent motivation circus run by the Get Motivated team of Peter and Tamara Lowe.

They shelled out huge bucks for ex-President Bush (one can assume that if Bill Clinton earns $250K per speaking gig, Citizen Bush is earning the same). Lesser dignitaries earn high five to low six-figure honoraria for their efforts. And what a line-up as 10,000 to 50,000 will pack arenas across America as we saw recently on The Rachel Maddow Show.

What the unsuspecting buyer does not see is the back-room telephone boiler shop that mines the website data for that $19 ticket and the accompanying sophisticated, high-pressure sales techniques used to get you to spend much, much more than the minimal entrance fee.

Having experience planning and working in this environment as the former COO of an MBS company, here’s how some of it breaks down:

Start with ticket sales and assume 25,000 attendees. That’s a simple enough math calculation x $19 = a $475,000 gross gate. That amount will not cover one speaker or rent the arena, let alone the powerhouse line-up each event boasts.

Arena rental, security and staff on the day = 50-60% of the gate. Their speaker bill alone is close to $1 million dollars. So how do they cover their costs and make money?

W’s memoir will be sold there, except it will have a $25-$30 price tag. The group will register themselves as a book retailer and can thus purchase copies of all books at 40% of publisher price. They will likely get Mr. Bush to sign 200-400 copies and those will retail for $100+ almost all profit on their $4-$5 expense. The audio book and other tapes will be sold and before you know it you have an on-site and Web store operation that will hawk everyone’s books and audio tape at full price and maximum profit.

But that’s nothing compared to motherlode — private and add-on seminar events:

You can have a special pre-event cocktail reception with the President, with half the proceeds going to the Bush Presidential library (or other charity to interest the famous person) and half to the organizers. Most of these have a $500-$2,500+ price tag to meet and greet plus you get your picture taken.

Special add-on seminars semi-private events: These begin at $2,000 – $10,000, depending on the nature and venue. When I worked in this business, we sold advanced weekend long seminars for $600-$900 dollars and week-long events for $2,000 for an at best, B level celebrity, so double or triple it for the star wattage here.

We’d convert 30% of our 200 or so audience into full-boat $8,000 customers. We’d encourage them to take out a loan or put it on a credit card (at 30%) so they could “get the life tools they needed to get and stay ahead.” We used terms like Bring Abundance into Your Life, Kill the Ego and hit all the right emotional buttons. So you can bet they will do the same.

If every person has a $5,000 price tag bounty on their head and they convert only 10,000 people, more than 50% ends up in the pockets of the organizers… that’s $20-30 million dollars without breaking a sweat.

So prepare to be sold to on the phone, online, via text message and via massive amounts of guilt for not treating yourself better than you do!

But the granddaddy of all pitches comes from the stage because there is nothing like the ‘group-think’, NLP language loaded, group hypnosis sales pitch one gets when held captive in that auditorium.

denis

Even the soberest fiscal conservatives cannot avoid the power of this pitch and will jump out of his or her seat with wallet wide open! You may get in for $19, but more than half of you will spend many hundreds if indeed not thousands more.

Not a bad return on investment.

Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell publishes the e-magazine UKProgressive.co.uk, where this article first appeared.

Published by the LA Progressive on October 25, 2009
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About Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell is a US journalist and entrepreneur based in the United Kingdom . He is Editor-in-Chief of UKProgressive.co.uk, a frequent BBC political and business contributor, writes for publications around the globe and is a partner in Target Point Ltd a business innovation consultancy bringing examples of the best practices from the recent campaign to businesses and campaigns.