In the 1970’s there was a ridiculous and somewhat controversial show where performers of questionable talent did strange and bizarre things in the name of entertainment. When their acts became too much to bear, celebrity judges hit a giant gong, sending the performer packing.
This was a precursor to the competitive reality shows of today and at the time many people thought it was in terrible taste. That didn’t stop them from tuning in, though, and if you happened to be stoned when you were watching, well then I hear it was a laugh riot.
The perpetrator and host of this show was a guy named Chuck Barris. To give you a bit of history, Chuck created two smash hit TV shows in the 60’s; The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. But when Chuck debuted The Gong Show, critics called him, “The Baron of Bad Taste” and “The King of Schlock.”
In response, Barris wrote a book that attempted to set the record straight with some bald-faced lies. Barris claimed he was – now get this – a CIA assassin.
In his book, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” Barris asserts he worked for the CIA as a hired assassin throughout the 1960s and 70s. The CIA emphatically said this was not true, but what else would the CIA say?
The public always wondered…
Was Barris – the guy who acted like a silly clown on television – really a CIA assassin?
Nah… probably not.
But still… maybe…
Barris was quoted as saying, “Here I was, getting crucified by critics for entertaining people (The Gong Show) and getting medals for killing them. That just didn’t seem logical.”
In 2002 George Clooney created a feature film loosely based on and totally spoofing the book, in which Chuck Barris kills 33 people as a CIA operative.
Back to the two hit shows Barris created in the 60’s:
The Dating Game was simply 3 people competing to get a date with a 4th person by answering his or her questions. That was the entire premise and the show lasted for 15 years.
Then there was the Newlywed Game which was, as Barris described it, “4 couples, 8 questions and a washer-dryer.”
How long did it take Barris to come up with these ‘products’? I suspect the ideas came spontaneously in the shower or while he was falling asleep. Sure, he could have made them more complicated, but why?
Time and again I see marketers overcomplicating their products. “I want to create a product on driving traffic through Facebook Groups” becomes, “I’m creating a 22 volume set of traffic driving techniques for every major social media site as well as 13 other methods and each volume will have 2 hours of video and a 100 page book and…”
All you need is 4 couples, 8 questions and a washer-dryer.
Keep it simple.
Simple is easy to create and it’s fast to market. You can find out quickly if your idea is a hit or not. And people are more likely to consume your product, thereby getting value for their money and coming back for MORE of your products.
Keep it simple.
One more thing…
Do your prospects find you boring? Do YOU find you boring?
Then start a rumor.
Maybe don’t start one that says you’re a CIA assassin (unless you really want to). But start a rumor that is fun, interesting and maybe just a tiny bit shocking.
Have a few people spread it on social media. Then deny the heck out of it.
This is the sort of thing that can go viral quite easily. You might even get some free publicity, too.
And who knows… one day George Clooney might make a movie about you, too.