Billy Mays is the king of direct response TV ads.
Don’t know who Billy Mays is? Yes you do. Watch this video.
Everyone knows Billy Mays. And for good reason. While direct response TV commercials are all designed to get your attention, Billy Mays is the one pitchman who can grab your attention even if you’re in another room.
Mays started his selling career right out of high school pitching products on the Atlantic City boardwalk. He honed his craft at home shows and state fairs around the country. He became famous after meeting the founder of Orange Glo International, a manufacturer of cleaning products.
Orange Glo hired Mays to promote their various cleaners, including OxiClean, Orange Clean, and Orange Glo. Sales soared. This success propelled the company into the top 10 privately owned companies from 1999 to 2001, according to Inc. Magazine.
What makes Mays’ pitch so effective? Enthusiasm, directness, and authority. A Billy Mays pitch is packed with nonstop energy. He’s pleasant, but doesn’t joke or clown around, always getting right to the point. His voice is loud and commanding, a style perfectly suited to selling on a busy boardwalk, but also perfectly suited to breaking through to preoccupied TV viewers.
I think few would say they “like” to watch a Billy Mays commercial. He’s considered obnoxious by many. But that’s irrelevant. Just as people say they dislike catalogs while continuing to place orders, they say they don’t like Mays’ in-your-face style while emptying the store shelves of the products he pitches.
In marketing, you should learn from what works, not from what you like.