When it comes to charlatans, John Romulus Brinkley is quite the oyster. He was a doctor who faked his medical training and bought his credentials from a California “diploma mill”.
Even still, his antics have made an indelible mark on American history (I believe he even has a law named after him… though this makes him lie in infamy, as the law was one designed to stop his influence not help it).
Yes, our Scoundrel was a charlatan indeed. Wikipedia even lists “charlatan” as his occupation. But instead of the proverbial Snake Oil, our Villain Mr. Brinkley hucked the humble, yet potent Goat Testicle.
He didn’t just sell goat testicles however… he convinced impotent men that replacing their dangly bits with goat glands would lend Herculean power to their sensual forays.
How he did it was even more interesting. In order for his patients to feel comfortable they were getting the goaty glands they were paying for, he performed only local anesthesia on the patient.
Then, while the patient was awake, he’d bring over a goat to… you know (Brinkley was thinking like a coypwriter as this is the ultimate form of proof, only much more sadistic).
In fact, Brinkley went as far as letting his patients pick out which goat they wanted before the surgery began. Kinda like a painful and sadistic version of choosing your lobster at a fancy restaurant.
Our torturous Doctor was pioneering his methods around the same time commercial radio became a thing. And so, with Pan and his trip of goats by his side, Brinkley built a radio station and began his broadcasts.
Over his career Brinkley had two shows:
1) His first show where he promoted his goat gland treatment
2) “Medical Question Box” where he would field listener questions and in answer, would suggest they buy one of his proprietary blends of medicine
His second show is a classic Direct-Response format and is exactly what I do and teach in my Q&A emails (which I haven’t done one in a while… so if you have any email, copywriting, or marketing related questions for your pal Tyronius, spit ‘em out).
But what’s even more interesting is how he spoke on his broadcasts.
While others at that time were “yelling and squawking in some weird 1930s radio announcer voice,” Brinkley's tone was gentle and conversational.
“His trademark was to sound like your best friend across the table.”
Almost everything Brinkley did is eerily similar to how I teach email marketing:
Have regular contact in a medium you control (he owned his radio station at a time before there was a ton of regulations).
Have a conversational style that invites the audience into the message.
Build a persona that people can bond to.
Don’t fear controversy.
I say “almost everything” because there was one giant, glaring, “plank in your eye” problem with Brinkley’s plan:
His offer was ineffective (actually it was completely dangerous and lethal in many cases…).
And no matter how good your marketing is, selling a sheisty offer can never last. In fact, the better your marketing is in that case, the faster you’ll be found out as a phony.
Which is exactly what happened to Brinkley. So always remember that the most valuable marketing asset is an effective offer.
Ok, Patient… Nurse Ratched says it’s time for your medicine:
If you have a good offer that’s currently lying dormant in a lack of email-caused coma, and you want me on your team to breathe life into your sales, just hit ‘reply’ and message me back with 10cc’s of your contact info stat.