Ron Popeil (Ronco) – Salesman of The Century

Ron Popeil Expert Salesman and Inventor

Ron Popeil (Ronco) is one of the greatest inventors and salesman of the last century.

Ronald M. Popeil born on May 3, 1935 in NYC.  He's an American inventor and salesman and is best known for his late night infomercials.  His most successful product, the Showtime Rotisserie, is where he coined his famous phrase “Set it and forget it”

Ron and his brother had a rough childhood, spending most of their youth  in foster homes and with family members before eventually going to work for his father, himself an inventor.  Ron honed his salesmanship skills on the streets of Chicago, buying excess kitchen inventory from his father (at no discount) and yelling, hawking and doing just about anything to attract attention and sell his products.  From the streets of Chicago, Ron eventually started taping demonstrations for other salesmen, which eventually led to him becoming the infomercial king of late night television.

If you've ever spent time watching television late at night, you've seen Ron on TV, or at least some of his products.  The Popeil Pocket Fisherman, The Chop-O-Matic and the Showtime Rotisserie oven are just a few of his prized inventions.

What makes Ron's products and his sales pitch so successful?

First off, he sells some pretty neat products.  Second, he is a master of building excitement for his products. Over the course of 30-minute infomercial,  Ron will show you:

  • Why you need his product
  • A demonstration on how wonderful it is and also proof that it works
  • Show customers giving testimonials, along with oohs and aahs from the crowd
  • Give example after example showing you why you need the product

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What you'll also notice is that he gives the price of the product very early on in the show.  Why does he do this?  Because from this point until the end of the infomercial, Ron will hit you with his famous catch phrase….“Wait, there more!”

Usually at this point of the infomercial, you're thinking “that's not a bad price, but it's not a bargain either”.

That's what he wants you to think.

Because for the rest of the show you will get hit with one freebie after another……all as a free bonus to you if you buy the product.  The freebies usually end up being worth more (at least perceived value) than the cost of the actual product.  Add in the money back guarantee and  it almost becomes a no-brainer to purchase the product.  By the end of the show, people are usually sold and eagerly ready to buy.


If you are a business owner or a salesman, become a student of the infomercial and learn to build anticipation for your product and re-invent your selling process.  Also note how enthusiastic everyone is in an infomercial, they do it because enthusiasm is contagious.

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CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.
4 replies
  1. david and nathalie andrews
    david and nathalie andrews says:

    Gary, you’re right that Ronco was the first to take street trading to the TV in the form of infomercials. What I find interesting is that his pitch was incredibly similar to the European street traders who have been seeing the same way with the same ‘Ronco’ approach for centuries.
    I grew up in London and ‘worked’ the street markets of Roman Road, Pettcoat Lane and others back in the ’60s. We would use the same approach of starting with the tease of a semi-bargain, and the knowledge that our audience knew the reward was going to get better if they stuck around for the punchline. This process was termed ‘building and edge’ which signified the audience that always stuck around to see if others bought, and to join in on a bargain.
    You see a similar version of this on the home shopping channels where they show how many purchasers have bought. This shows that others have had confidence in the purchase, and there’s the threat that the seller will run out and you’ll miss a bargain.
    Marketing is a science that I personally love, but at its core, it is all about setting up emotional situations that lead to a predictable conclusion…and both buyer and seller are under no misaprehension as to where it will lead.
    Great posting Gary…as always.

  2. Gary Shouldis
    Gary Shouldis says:

    Great insights David and thanks for making that connection to the European street traders, great stuff. As an infomercial fan, I love how they can get you from laughing at the product, to being intrigued by it, to finally wanting to buy it,…..all in under 30 minutes. Cheers mate!

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