The ‘Letterman’ Formula: How to spend $600 for 2 million visitors (and be featured on national TV)

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

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Note: Pick up the free bonuses to go along with this Formula. They will give you a step-by-step guide to implement this strategy.

My friend Mike makes chopping blocks. They are made from scratch. No machines and no Chinese imports. Just 100% handcrafted premium blocks.

He has a problem though. No one knows that he sells them.

What if Fox News did a report on cutting boards and linked to Mike from their story? What if that story had 200,000 people view it and 0.3% of them click through to buy?

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Mike would sell over $90,000 in cutting boards. His life would change overnight.

I’m going to show you how to do that.

Here is the formula: 

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HOW I DID IT

I implemented the ‘Letterman’ strategy in the spring of 2013. The results were insane. We were featured on Fox, CBS, NBC, Yahoo, Business Insider and countless other outlets. We got 2,000,000 impressions throughout the campaign.

This is the story of how and why.

1. Sandy Stimpson runs for Mayor

Mobile, AL isn’t the easiest place for a 60+ year old upper class white man to be elected mayor. Especially when the city just overwhelmingly voted Barak Obama into office and has a two-time African American incumbent. But, a good friend of mine was tasked with just that. I was hired to help.

The candidate’s name was Sandy Stimpson and our mission was to make him the next Mayor.

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2.. Oprah vs. David Letterman

In the late 90’s I watched David Letterman a lot. During that time he had an ongoing feud with Oprah. He wanted her on his show but she kept ignoring him. So, Dave latched onto that and for years made it an ongoing theme on his late night TV show. Random “Dave loves Oprah” signs would pop up at events all around the world.

It was a funny recurring segment that Dave used to bolster his brand and poke fun at Oprah at the same time.

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3. Two plus Two

The campaign was well underway and our candidate was off to a good start. Then we were presented with a golden opportunity when Business Insider published an article entitled “11 Most Miserable Cities in America.”

Guess where Mobile ranked? Number 3.

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The article made the front page of Yahoo. It was syndicated all across the internet and on all of the major news networks.

It was bad publicity for the city BUT a golden opportunity to show the voters that we would stick up for Mobile. Instantly, I knew exactly what we had to do. We had to go ‘David Letterman’ on the author.

Our new mission? Get the author, Julie Zeveloff, to Mobile.

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4. Get their attention

Naturally the first thing I did was to pick up the phone to make sure that Sandy and my friend (the campaign manager) were onboard with my idea.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Did you see this article?”
Chad: “No. Let me look. Holy crap that sucks.”
Me: “It’s a freaking gold mine”
Chad: “Huh?”
Me: “Can we buy her a round trip ticket and put her up in a 5 star hotel for 3 nights?”
Chad “Sure”

My thinking was: If we could get her to Mobile and show her what a cool city it is, then perhaps she would write a follow-up article detailing her experience. It would also be an interesting local story and perhaps we could get the local newspaper or a TV stations to do one of those ‘special interest’ stories on it.

5. Attack

I then proceeded to do EVERYTHING I could possibly think of to get her attention. I started with a tweet.

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Then I emailed her.

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Then we made a video for her:

    
Then I made a Tumblr page, yard signs and posted pictures on it everyday of places we would take her if she came to check out the city for herself.

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Eventually, she said yes!

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6. Follow-up & Dread 

As soon as I got her email confirming the trip I picked up the phone and called the campaign manager again. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Dude, she said yes!”
Chad: “Huh?”
Me: “Julie is coming to Mobile”
Chad: “Are you serious?”

Then there was immediate dread. Fear crept in and we began to second guess ourselves:

“What if she gets here and hates it?”

“What if she writes a terrible follow-up article?”

“What if we were completely wrong and the public hates this and we lose the election?”

7. Shock and awe

Quick recap: Our guy is running for Mayor of Mobile, AL.  Odds are low that he gets elected. Business Insider writes an article calling Mobile the 3rd most miserable city in the entire country. We start a campaign to get the author (of said article) to come to Mobile to experience the city for herself. Eventually it works.

OK….back to the story…

Julie flies into the city and is greeted by over 100 people and all 3 of the local news stations.

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The next 2.5 days are full of every type of seafood and local cuisine you can imagine, a full city tour, airboat ride of the delta and tour of the state of the art military ships being built in the Mobile port.

Best of all, she live tweeted and bloged the entire experience.

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8. The Results.

Julie wrote three more articles about her experience (all rave reviews), and all three of the major local TV stations led with the ‘Julie story’ for 2 days straight on their prime time broadcast.

The story made Yahoo, NBC World News, Business Insider, every local radio and news station, the state newspaper, local newspaper and was syndicated all over the world from the UK to Australia.

By my count over 2,000,000 people saw the story in some form or fashion.

and best of all…Sandy won the election.

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Principles

1. Personal attention: Julie gets pitched everyday, this was different. It was persistent, original and it was obvious from the outset that tons of effort had been put into it.

2. Mutually Beneficial: People care about themselves. They are marginally interested in you. This story wasn’t about getting Sandy elected as Mayor it was a story of redemption and how statistics don’t always tell the full story. Ultimately it was all about getting more traffic to their website. This story accomplished that with over 400,000 direct clicks.

3. Stand for something: There were people that thought we did this just for the attention. That was certainly a factor in the decision. However, the main driving force was sticking up for our city. What kind of man can represent a city and allow it to be cast in a bad light without doing anything about it?

4. Persistence: Nothing ever happens easy I’m cool with that because I know if I work harder and smarter that it will pay off in the end. Don’t. Freaking. Quit. Show persistence and people will eventually listen.

Example of Persistence:
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Application

What would happen to your business if 2,000,000 people suddenly found out about it? I know what happended for Sandy. He became the next mayor.

And I have a good idea of what would happen for Mike’s chopping block business, he would sell $90,000 worth of chopping blocks.

“But Bryan, that works in politics but it would never work for me. I’m not running for mayor, I sell chopping blocks!”

You know what? You might be right. You may not get 2 million views.

What if your campaign only went half as well?

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Bonuses:

If you’ve made it this far, you are serious about your business. 

And I’ve put together a bonus section for you 

  1. How to find relevant news stories to implement the “Letterman’ on.
  2. How NOT to spend hours and hours everyday digging through articles.
  3. How to spend 5 minutes a day and have the best stories sent TO YOU.

All of this is free, just enter your email address below and you’ll be whisked away to the members area where you can download them. You’ll also get a weekly email from me with a new formula to grow your business with video.
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  • You have by far the most interesting marketing blog on the web right now. Lots of food for thought in these formula blog posts.

    • Thank you Duff! I emjoy putting them together

  • eugenehennie

    Great article B. What was the entire budget for everything?

    • Our only out of pocket as the airfare…may be $600? We had the room, all meals and transportation sponsored by local businesses.

  • Derrick Horvath

    Great story, hopefully Sandy is a great man and does well for the city. I guess since this is a technique you wouldn’t do very often, you really have to know when to pick the battle. Would love to see anyone post a case study of doing this for an internet business.

    Another great post. Thanks.

    • Sandy is the only politician i’ve ever gotten excited about. It will work for anything. The principles are what they are.

  • Pete Bruce

    great stuff Bryan, I’m launching my blog soon and will be trying these techniques

    • sweet! let me know when you do. i’ll check it out

  • Jen Jedda

    Totally got into this story! Magical :)…love it. And a huge congrats for your vision, persistance and success. Inspiring is the least of the words that come to mind.

  • Love this story Bryan. Hustle and creative thinking.
    I’m glad you shared that you had second thoughts because I sure would have….even though most of the second thoughts never happen they can be crippling.

  • You sure have me dreaming…that’s where it all starts, right? So if I stick with it, and put action to the dreams (one step at a time)….anything is possible! 🙂

  • marcusps1

    I got recommended this blog by brian dean and I absolutely love it – going to definitely try out some of these tactics!

  • Jeff Bratcher

    Exposure! Yes… Must have traffic…

  • I couldn’t quit reading! You write EPIC stuff! Thank you!

  • Amazing, amazing. Love this story in and of itself and for its relevant application to business and marketing. Every post I read, I’m more impressed by your content and ideas! Keep ’em coming!