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'It was like pouring gun powder into my coffee.' Kevin Gentry’s interview of Richard Viguerie (Part 3 of 7).

Richard Viguerie
Memo: To Conservative Leaders

From: Richard A. Viguerie

“It was like pouring gun powder into my coffee.” -- One of the many favorable comments Kevin Gentry received from his 1st interview of me.

Today is the 3rd interview of Kevin and I on the state of conservative marketing/fundraising.  The 1st one (read here) dealt with the mistakes conservatives make in marketing/fundraising, and the 2nd (read here) focused on the solutions.

This 3rd interview is on the first of my Four Horsemen of Marketing™.  In the coming days, we’ll discuss the other three legs of the Four Horsemen™ as well as the importance of a Tagline.

From the 1960s through most of the 1980s, conservatives dominated grassroots marketing, but today liberals are doing a far better job of activating the grassroots.

Hopefully these 7 interviews* will help wake up conservatives, so we can better compete with the Left in educating and activating voters.  Kevin’s weekly Tips will help those involved with a conservative nonprofit, as well as those who want to help the cause of liberty/freedom by their regular use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, blogs, etc.  By so doing you will help re-elect President Trump, help take back the House, and help increase our numbers in the Senate.

P.S. I like to start each Saturday morning with Kevin’s fundraising Tips and a cup of coffee.  I urge you to do the same if you want to learn how to be more effective in educating and activating others to get involved in saving America—with or without the coffee.

P.P.S. You’re welcome to subscribe and/or forward these Tips to friends and colleagues who could benefit from them.  Just email: [email protected] to be added to the list to receive these FREE weekly Tips.  Or request by postal mail to: Kevin Gentry c/o Stand Together, 2300 Wilson Blvd. Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22201.

Here’s the text of my third interview with Kevin Gentry:

Yesterday morning I telephoned my friend and mentor Richard Viguerie again.

You – and other dedicated readers of these weekly Tips – had recommended I follow up with him.

You asked that I go back for a deeper discussion into some important points he had recently raised.

Here’s the gist of our conversation –

Well Richard, the wisdom you shared with our Tips readers over the last two weeks (here and here) really caught fire.

“It was like pouring gunpowder into my coffee,” one reader told me.

You’ve generated quite the buzz.  Not a day goes by that I’m not in conversation with at least two or three people who were affected by your words.

First, let me try and understand your background and your motivation a little better.

In 1961, you went to New York City to become Executive Secretary for William F. Buckley’s fledgling Young Americans for Freedom.  Those were heady times for you.  As a young Cajun from southeast Texas, you were rubbing shoulders with the giants of the conservative movement.  Tell us about that.

“Fresh out of the University of Houston, I threw myself into a study of political philosophy – reading Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Buckley, and others.  But it didn’t take me very long to realize I was not likely to be at the level of these titans.

“I began to notice that while the conservative cause did not have enough good writers, elected officials, organization leaders, debaters – we did have some.

“But there was no one who could market or raise money for our ideas.  So, I began a major study of marketing which continues to this very day – today and six out of seven days this week, I’ll spend 2-3 hours on this.

“In the 1960s, there was very little good information about non-profit fundraising and marketing.  While there is much more today, the vast majority of what I’ve learned has come from the commercial world.  That was true in the 1960s, and it’s still true in 2020.

“From that study and from my own experience, I’ve developed a concept I call the Four Horsemen of Marketing.  I believe that’s what you’re calling me about today.”

Yep, that’s exactly it.  You teased the concept in our earlier discussion, and it really piqued the interest of readers of these Tips.  They’ve asked that you share more.

My understanding is that your Four Horsemen of Marketing are:





You’ve said that a mastery of these concepts can put the wind at our backs and make life downhill.

But you’ve also said getting these wrong can make our work impossible.

So let’s dig in.  Today, let’s just focus on the first – positioning.

Positioning is considered one of the most important marketing concepts – marketing strategies – of the modern era.

Whether it was developed by David Ogilvy or by Jack Trout and Al Ries, positioning has served countless entrepreneurs as indispensable to their business growth.

Why do you put positioning first?

“Because positioning is the foundation upon what your organization rests.  It’s the foundation for all of your marketing.

“As the Bible tells us, it’s like a man building a house on the rock.  When the floods came and the stream broke against the house, it could not be shaken because it had been well built.  I consider positioning to be your bedrock.”

Okay, then please help us understand the definition of positioning.  I’ve always found it to be a difficult concept to grasp.

“Positioning is nothing more than a hole in the marketplace.  And every organization needs to find theirs.

“I don’t care how much money you might have, you’re not going to compete successfully against Amazon, Apple or Google.

“But Apple did compete against IBM.  How?  Not by going up against them, but by finding a hole in the marketplace – not just computers, but personal computers.

“We all live in a massively over-communicated world.  We’re bombarded with thousands and thousands of messages every day.  There’s no way for you alone to stand out, much less for us to be expected to remember everything we see and hear.

“But we can remember categories.

“When I discovered political direct mail, it was a category that didn’t exist.

Richard, that’s actually an excellent example.  Sixty years after you began to develop political direct mail, you’re still recognized as the direct mail guru.  It defines you.  It’s your brand.  That’s how we know and remember you.

“Exactly!  Usually when I ask a leader of a non-profit what their position is, they will respond with something along these lines:  “We’re better than our competition, we’re more effective, we’re cheaper and more efficient.”  This is a position in their minds, but not with others.

“Political campaigns often provide terrific examples of the power of positioning.  You might think about this.

“In 2008, there were six major Democrat candidates running for President.  Do you remember who they were?  In addition to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there was former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Senators Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Joe Biden.

“Each believed in their minds they were the smartest or most qualified candidates on the stage – and maybe voters agreed.  But that wasn’t sufficient for success.  Which two really stood out?

“Hillary Clinton was of course the candidate of the Democrat Establishment – that was her position.

“But what about Obama?  As a freshman Senator from Illinois, he needed a position – a hole in the marketplace.

“On the campaign trail, he emphasized one issue above all others – that had he been in the U.S. Senate at the time, he would have opposed America’s entry into the War in Iraq.  Hillary Clinton (and the others) had supported it.

“That was Obama’s hole in the marketplace.  And that position electrified the Democrat grassroots and it fueled his rise to victory.

“Just consider the holes in the marketplace that have been filled by other politicians such as Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

“Several years ago you introduced me to your friend Dino Cortopassi, an incredibly successful agri-businessman.  I cooked with some of his olive oil just last night.

“My recollection is that back in the day, Dino had a superior product -- tomato sauce -- with superior production operations.  But until he met Jack Trout, co-author of the book Positioning, Dino's business growth had plateaued to a degree.

“Jack Trout helped Dino carve out his hole in the marketplace – that he was "the real Italian tomato company."  For the owners of real Italian restaurants, they craved the real thing – something authentic.  And they were willing to pay extra for it.

“That decision by Dino, which he credits to Jack Trout, launched him into the stratosphere.

 Okay Richard, this has been very helpful.  Any closing words on positioning?

 “To repeat, your position is a hole in the marketplace.  It’s not a matter of changing your product.  It’s a matter of identifying that hole in the marketplace and then positioning your product so that you stand out.

“Identify what you are doing that no one else does.

“It’s not that you do it better.  It’s something than no one else is doing.  Yet, there’s a perceived need for what you do.

Okay readers, your thoughts on this?

Any follow-up questions for Richard?

Next week, let’s tackle the second of Richard Viguerie's "Four Horsemen:"  differentiation.

Remember -- would you rather be sprinting downhill – or climbing uphill?

Would you rather have the wind at your back – or running headlong into it?

Mastering these four incredibly valuable marketing concepts can put the wind at your back.

Very best wishes as always,

Kevin Gentry

P.S.  You’re welcome to forward these Tips to friends and colleagues who could benefit from them.  Or, your associates may simply sign up below (or just email me) to be added to the list to receive these weekly Tips.  Also, the recommended reading list below references most of the resources that Richard Viguerie says he still studies for 2-3 hours every day.

Fundraising Resource Book List

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