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On a Saturday in June of 1961, I arrived at an army base outside of Chicago, Illinois, to fulfill my two-week requirement of active duty in the Army National Guard.
The following Saturday afternoon, everyone in my unit went into town. I stayed in the barracks and, while reading Bill Buckley’s National Review, I read in the classified ads section a one-inch ad for four field directors for Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) run by retired Admiral Ben Moreell.
A week later, when I had returned home, I quickly called my friend David Franke, who was a writer at National Review and very active in conservative youth politics. I said to David, “I’ve got to have one of those four positions at ACA.” He said, “It’s not four, it’s one. It was a blind ad to find a person to run Young Americans for Freedom (YAF),” which had been founded in September 1960 on Bill Buckley’s family estate in Sharon, Connecticut. I immediately said, “David, get me that job.” A few weeks later, I took the red eye to New York’s LaGuardia Airport for a 10 a.m. Saturday morning interview with Bill Rusher, the long-time publisher of National Review.
After about 45 minutes, we took a cab to 79 Madison Avenue, NYC, where Marvin Liebman had his office. Marvin ran a small (six or seven employees) public affairs agency. YAF was a client of Marvin’s, and they had their office in his agency.
Marvin was very close to Bill and Pat Buckley and spent most weekends with them in Sharon, Connecticut. Marvin had a number of conservative and anti-communist organizations as clients, including one he had founded and named “The Committee of 1,000,000 Against the Admission of Red China to the UN.”
During the interview, Marvin showed me around his office, which included a mail room with a postage meter, envelopes, stationary, brochures, pamphlets, etc. But the most interesting thing was a large 3x5 card filing cabinet, which contained thousands of 3x5 index cards. Each one had a person’s name, address, and the name of one or more organizations they had contributed to, usually because of an ad in a newspaper, such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, with the amount and date of their donation.
To this day, I clearly remember thinking, “Wow, where has this thing been all my life?” I felt like a duck that had never seen water but knew what to do with the water.
Within days after I returned, Marvin offered me a job as an account executive at Marvin Liebman and Associates, handling the YAF account. Weeks later, the YAF Board of Directors (21 mostly college students, many from Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.) selected me to be YAF’s executive secretary. A serious split had developed in YAF, but since my sponsors were David Franke, Bill Rusher, and Marvin Liebman representing Bill Buckley Jr., my selection was mostly a formality. Buckley, though only 36, was clearly the leader of the conservative movement and was already a god-like figure to conservatives, especially the youth.
So, in August of 1961, I left my job as a clerk in the land department of Western Natural Gas, making $90 a week, to go share an apartment in Greenwich Village with David Franke making $125 dollars a week.
… when I arrived at the YAF office, I was surprised to learn that YAF, which had a big national reputation, at just 11 months old had a debt of $20,000, only about 1,200 donors, and very little money coming in. One of my first assignments was to get in touch with three people Marvin suggested I call and ask for money: Charles Edison (former governor of New Jersey and youngest son of Thomas Edison), Captain Eddie Rickenbacker (a WWI hero and founder of Eastern Airlines), and J. Howard Pew (chairman of Sun Oil Company).
I called Edison and Rickenbacker on the phone and they both sent $1,000 checks. I went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet with Pew and we had a nice hour-long visit. Within weeks, $1,000 checks started to arrive from Pew and his family members for a total of $5,000.
However, I quickly learned I didn’t personally like asking people for money. So, I started writing letters and that worked. Then I hired a secretary and purchased a mimeograph machine, which would print about 1,000 letters an hour. Soon, the $20,000 debt was paid, and money was flowing in…
In my first year at YAF, I often came into contact with Bill Buckley Jr., Brent Bozell Jr., Frank Meyer, Priscilla Buckley, James Burnham, Stan Evans, and other intellectual giants. I tried to make up for my lack of intellectual fire power by reading and studying, not only the writings of these conservative stars, but also Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Whitaker Chambers, etc.
But after about a year, I realized I wasn’t making a lot of progress. So, I made a conscious decision to stop reading the books and publications that I enjoyed and do a deep dive into the study of advertising/marketing/business.
My thinking was that while we conservatives didn’t have enough writers, debaters, candidates, elected officials, or organizations, we did have some. But we had no one who could mass market our writers, books, magazines, candidates, and organizations, and lobby politicians, etc.
In 1963, I talked to my wife and said, “Honey, I’ve discovered something that’s very important and it could help change America, maybe even the world. But I don’t understand it, so I’ll need to spend a lot of time studying. Can I be relieved of all household duties—no changing diapers, no taking out the trash, yard work, etc.? I need to spend all available time studying direct marketing.”
She bought into it. Maybe I was a better salesman than I realized. So, for the next seven to eight years, I did a deep dive into the study of advertising, marketing, direct mail, and business.
Throughout my business career, Elaine has been a strong supporter, editor, and advisor. Unfortunately, she had a stroke in 2006. Her mind is fine, but it paralyzed her left side, causing her to need 24/7 care in an assisted living facility. The Lord has blessed us with three children and six grandchildren.
I estimate that in the last 60 years, I’ve spent over 45,000 hours studying marketing/business. In recent decades, I’ve reduced my study time to about two to three hours a day, six days a week.
David Franke, my New York City roommate before Elaine and I married, said I would walk around our apartment holding a copy of Pete Hoke’s monthly magazine, Reporter of Direct Mail, and say, “David, direct mail is going to change American politics.”
Out of those years of studying I’ve developed a concept of marketing I’ve named Viguerie’s Four Horsemen of Marketing®.
There’s little that’s new or original about my Four Horsemen of Marketing®. I simply applied the principles I learned from spending 45,000 hours studying marketing, business, and direct mail in the last 60 years.
I drew upon the ideas of giants that have shared their wisdom with us, including Claude Hopkins, Rosser Reeves, John Caples, Ed Mayer Jr., Dick Benson, Al Ries, Jack Trout, Robert Cialdini, Seth Godin, and a dozen others.
The ideas of the Four Horsemen of Marketing can and should be applied to many areas of life, including getting into the college of your choice; marrying that pretty young lady who has numerous suitors; getting a job, promotion or raise; selling a product; raising money, etc., etc.
Here are my Four Horsemen of Marketing. To your audience, you must get all four right, and if you do, you will win. Get one wrong and you’re not likely to succeed: POSITION, DIFFERENTIATION, BENEFIT, and BRAND.
I’m going to use the example of Rupert Murdoch starting a cable television channel, Fox Corporation, to illustrate my points.
First is POSITION. The easiest way I know to think about position is it’s a hole in the marketplace that is occupied by no one else—it’s a private decision.
When Rupert Murdoch decided he wanted to launch a cable television network, he didn’t need to study CBS, NBC, or ABC. He brilliantly discovered a niche market that had been overlooked by others—half of the country—conservatives/Republicans.
America is a 50/50 country, half Republican, half Democrat. So, in the 1980s half of the country didn’t have a TV channel they could go to and get the news, commentary, and information they wanted.
So, Murdoch privately decided to occupy that hole in the marketplace.
Second is DIFFERENTIATION, which is what you do publicly and visually to let people know your niche in the marketplace. Murdoch didn’t take out ads that said Fox was a conservative TV network. He put forward, as the face of Fox News, people such as Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Glenn Beck, Megyn Kelly, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity—later Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Jesse Watters. You don’t find people like them anywhere else on TV.
Third is BENEFIT. What’s the benefit someone personally receives by donating to your organization or using or buying your product?
Obviously, conservatives get news and information from Fox that they don’t get from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, or public TV.
Fourth is BRAND. It’s a combination of the first three (Position, Differentiation, and Benefit). It’s what makes you or your organization unique, one-of-a-kind—Seth Godin’s “purple cow.”
If you apply the Four Horsemen to MSNBC, they have a Position, a Differentiation, a Brand, and (for liberals) a Benefit, but they offer no Benefit for conservatives.
These days, products are not sold, they are bought. People buy brands. They go with the leader. They may deny it—but they do it.
A few years ago, I wanted to replace my 13-year-old Lincoln with a Lexus. No one sold me on the idea of buying a Lexus. My wife had a Lexus, I liked it, and I wanted a two- to three-year-old black Lexus. All I had to do was find someone who would sell me a black Lexus at the price I wanted to pay. I did and that was four years ago, and one day I’ll get another black Lexus.
People buy BRANDS. Do you have a BRAND? Not if you don’t own a category. In fact, BRAND is so important that I’m going to give it a chapter of its own—Chapter 3.
After you read about the Four Horsemen, you may feel you understand the concepts and you’re ready to move on to something else. However, the odds are great you haven’t mastered them. While the ideas seem simple, I’ve found very few people in marketing who truly understand them and even fewer who apply them correctly.
If you get one of the Four Horsemen wrong to the audience you’re appealing to, you’ll be going uphill with the wind in your face and unlikely to succeed. Get all four correct, and life will be downhill with the wind to your back and pushing you on your way to victory.
Click here to order Go Big: The Marketing "Secrets" of Richard A. Viguerie on How Conservatives Can Win with Bigger and MORE: Organizations, Donors, and Money from Amazon
Next Tuesday’s excerpt from Go Big is Chapter 3: BRAND YOURSELF, BRAND YOUR ORGANIZATION – CHANGE YOUR LIFE, CHANGE THE WORLD
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