Using Viagra to get some Peace (sic) in Afgahanstan

OK, you can’t make this up. Talk about marketing incentives to close a deal!

The U.S. is offering Viagra to win over Afghan warlords in the U.S.-led war against Taliban insurgents, according to the Washington Post. (see full story here) If you don’t have time to read the whole article, let me sum up the main point:

CIA agents have offered everything from pocket knives  to toys to school equipment to travel visas and  medical services to get the powerful Afghan warlords to help in the war against the Taliban. Now, they’ve included Pfizer’s little blue pill in the list. “Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” one CIA operative was quoted as saying.

Of course it makes sense when you think about it. These chieftains are not young studs and they often have up to four wives (!), so Viagra is a way to “put them back in an authoritative position,” said another official. (Purposeful use of words? I’m not sure but it sure fits.)

Giving out four of the  pills changed the attitude of one influential warlord who had been wary of the U.S.

“He came up to us beaming,” one official told the Post. “And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.” One wonders what “area” he’s speaking about.

So how does this apply to marketing?

Well, I could say it doesn’t. It’s just a funny story that I simply had to have in my blog. And, although there’s a shred of truth in that, it’s not completely accurate. If we boil it down to the brass tacks of marketing: people don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want. (They back it with logic.) I know, I know, I say that a lot but the truth is it cannot be overstated. It’s the backbone of marketing. We are emotional beings. Don’t get that wrong, that doesn’t mean we’re irrational, it means — when we’re changing behaviors (and that’s what you’re trying to do when you get a new customer)  — we  lead with our feelings, not our thoughts.

So, in the case of the warlords, yes, they NEEDED schools and tools. But those are “left brain” items. They WANTED Viagra (wouldn’t you if you were 60+ years old with a whole bunch of wives?) so that’s what wins them over.

Terri Langhans, a marketing expert I was fortunate enough to meet at a National Speakers Association conference, has a great line on her totally unique business card. As shown below, “marketing that appeals to reason has no appeal at all.”

The most unique business card ever

The most unique business card ever

Bottom line: if your marketing isn’t getting them “where they live,” it’s never going to get them at all.

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~ by scottqmarcus on December 26, 2008.

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