In addition to being one of the greatest showmen and businessmen ever, P.T. Barnum is author, copywriter and marketing expert Joe Vitale's mentor from beyond. Vitale therefore takes exception to the fact that most people only know of Barnum's management of the famous circus that still bears his name, and stresses that Barnum was involved with the famed circus only during the last years of his life. It was his American Museum (audaciously purchased with no cash down and a swampy island as collateral) — and his almost mythical promotion of General Tom Thumb (Charles S. Stratton) and Swedish songstress Jenny Lind — that made P.T. Barnum his money and fame.
Tell Your Story to Everyone Who Will Listen
P.T. Barnum's observation that too many businesses hide their light under a bushel resonates profoundly with Vitale's experience as a marketer and copywriter. Barnum's simple and direct approach to communicating value to potential customers remains as true today as it did in his time. The master showman knew that if potential customers don't know what you have to offer, they aren't going to buy it.
Beneath the gutsy tales of bold promotions, anecdotes about wild animals and crazy contests (or the story of how Barnum was nearly hanged) the book presents simple, applicable advice. Find a business you love, promote it like crazy then give paying customers more than they expect. According to Barnum (and Vitale), it's an approach that cannot fail.
Barnum's 10 Rings of Power
Vitale also holds Barnum up as a man who understood the power of positive thinking decades before it was a pop psychology phenomenon. He was a man who endured tremendous personal and business tragedies (he went bankrupt twice), but had the attitude and strength of character to persevere and build immediately upon (at one point literally) the ashes of his defeat. Vitale draws out 10 points — or "Rings of Power" — that originate in the personal beliefs Barnum held on the subject of success in business. According to Vitale,
Barnum's actions and writing attest that:
- He believed there was a customer born every minute (not a sucker as the common saying would have us believe). Barnum went against the grain of our current "targeting" approaches, believing that the more people who know about your offer, the larger the pool of potential customers.
- He believed in using skyrockets. He was the king of dreaming up audacious ways to grab attention, and in doing so invented the baby contest and the beauty contest.
- He believed in giving people more than their money's worth. A quality as irresistible now as it was then.
- He fearlessly believed in the power of printer's ink. Barnum understood the power of information. He believed that customers will listen to any story if it is sufficiently entertaining.
- He believed in persistently advertising. Barnum understood that hit-and-miss advertising doesn't work, but a consistent message, told over and over, hits its mark.
- He believed in helping people get results (what goes around comes around). Barnum was building strategic alliances with complementary businesses long before the term came into being.
- He believed in negotiating creatively, treating employees and performers with respect. Fairness, respect and treating people as you would wish to be treated goes a long way now as it did in his time.
- He believed all was well. He knew the energy expelled in being bitter over losses could be better channeled into overcoming adversity.
- He believed in the power of the written word.
- He believed in the power of speaking. Barnum knew that people pay attention to experts.
Success in Life Is Everything
Perhaps one of the most useful and memorable sections of the book is a reprint of The Art of Money Getting, penned by Barnum himself. In addition to containing the origins of the salient business practices echoed in Vitale's 10 Rings, Barnum's wonderfully homespun advice included warnings to not spend more than you make, not to drink or smoke, and to seek out simple pleasures.
Why We Like This Book
Success stories are irresistible. So are unique characters. Vitale has given us plenty of both in this wonderfully personal, yet extremely relevant and applicable guide for anyone who wants to make their business the greatest show on earth.
His advice is also a life lesson, as pertinent today as when he first imparted it. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries