The only problem I had with Mind Control Marketing was that I read it before I read Robert B. Cialdini's Influence: The Science of Persuasion (which was written long before Joyner's book). Joyner's book was good, but his ideas weren't entirely original; much of it simply repeated what Cialdini had written many years earlier. This was certainly not the first time someone launched a career by piggybacking on ideas that have been published many years earlier, but my admiration for Joyner was somewhat reduced after reading Cialdini's earlier work.
In the current climate, however, this phenomenon is not so uncommon. For instance, take Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. I feel that this book takes many of its best ideas from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich. The content is fine; it's simply not a completely original work. I think the American public should be aware that many of the current crop of writers are really publishing ideas that are not entirely their own. The same information has always been available to anyone who knew to read books like Cialdini's or Hill's.
Countless marketing geniuses and people such as Mark Victor Hansen, Jay Abraham, and Tony Robbins have been dramatically influenced by Hill's ideas. (I once heard Robbins say he read the book more than 26 times.) The fact that The Secret is essentially a repackaged version of a great readily-available book is incredible. The fact that its author has appeared on Oprah and so forth is even more surprising, given how little credit is given to Hill himself for his original ideas. Not once in The Secret is Hill mentioned, and Byrne acts as if she has uncovered some sort of mystery. Yet these same ideas have been available for decades in Hill's Think and Grow Rich.
Despite my skepticism of Joyner, I must admit that I think he did a good job with The Irresistible Offer. In addition, I was impressed by the book because he does a good job of citing where he is getting his ideas from. I also think that through the course of his work following the release of Mind Control Marketing, Joyner learned a lot. It seems that now more of his ideas step outside of himself and relate to larger trends.
The premise of Joyner's book is that a really first-rate company and/or product will make "irresistible offers" to consumers that will sell products more effectively. According to Joyner:
The Irresistible Offer is an identity-building offer central to a product, service, or company where the believable return on investment is communicated so clearly and efficiently that you'd have to be a fool to pass it up...
The Irresistible Offer cuts through all the noise and clutter. It creates an itch that the buyer has to scratch. Such an offer makes doing business with you so easy and obviously beneficial that you stand out clearly from the crowd. People remember you. People can't move quickly enough to give you their money.
Joyner's big example (and probably the most memorable part of the book) has to do with Domino's Pizza and the 30-minute guarantee. He states that this particular offer was so strong that it was able to grow the company extremely rapidly. The fact that people could get hot pizza at home very quickly (when no one else was offering this) made the business boom. The offer was irresistible.
If the idea of an "irresistible offer" sounds familiar to just about everyone who knows something about marketing in America, it should. Just about everyone has heard of the USP or "unique selling proposition." Fairly early in the book, Joyner attempts to set forth some arguments about how the irresistible offer is different from the USP; however, his arguments do not really make much sense.
The irresistible offer is clearly the same thing as the USP. Joyner argues (unconvincingly, I might add) that the irresistible offer is more intrinsic to a product and a long-term value proposition, while a USP can refer to a "short-term" sort of product quality used to sell a product. Similarly, Joyner seems to argue that the irresistible offer is more powerful than the USP. However, when all is said and done, the irresistible offer is the same thing as the USP. The USP and irresistible offer used by Domino's are the same: "30 minutes or your pizza is free."
I am not sure what Joyner is talking about when he says a USP is different from an irresistible offer. What Joyner should have called his book is Some USPs Are Better Than Others: If You Make Your USP Really, Really Good, Then You'll Sell More Product.
Thankfully, Joyner gives some credit to Rosser Reeves, the first person to really set forth the idea of a USP in his book, Reality in Advertising (New York: Knopf, 1961), but then Joyner proceeds to try to convince the reader that there is a difference between his idea and Reeves'. There is no real difference. Joyner is just saying that you need a more powerful USP that is more all-encompassing.
None of this is to say I did not enjoy Joyner's book and find it useful. I appreciated the fact that he credited Reeves with defining the USP, for example. I also think that Joyner presents some really excellent discussions of credibility, touchstones, and follow-up marketing. Joyner also demonstrates an excellent understanding and interpretation of the marketing theories of people such as Joe Sugarman, Gary Bencivenga, Gary Halbert, and Ted Nichols—people Joyner calls "old school" despite the fact that he appears to draw from a lot of their material. I also enjoyed Joyner's information about pricing strategies in the book. Joyner presents some really good material about word of mouth, as well.
What Joyner does very, very well is take ideas that other marketers have written about and simplify them so that they are very palatable and interesting for people. When you read Joyner's writing, you feel like you are reading about the subject matter for the first time; however, virtually everything Joyner says has been said before. This is one reason I enjoy Joyner so much. He takes the best of what everyone else has said and packages it as his own—and it is actually more interesting to read than the material he is taking the information from. I will read his next book.
Joyner is a very good writer and packager of others' ideas, and he is interesting. I enjoy his work a great deal. That is why after reading Joyner's 200-page book that basically has repackaged the USP, I could not help but notice that Joyner has an ad at the end of his book advertising that the reader can claim "$397 in Free Recordings."
I went to Joyner's website, www.simpleology.com (maybe he calls his religion this because he is simplifying others' ideas), and signed up. I was soon receiving emails from Joyner on a daily basis urging me to go further and join "level II" and so forth. I began to get the sense this was a religion, and frankly, it looks like it is.
A couple of months ago, I was picking up some chicken gyro with a friend of my wife's, and he thought it would be fun to go into the local Scientology center across the street because (frankly) this was not the sort of thing he ever wanted to do alone. Inside, I learned all about levels and so forth. Like Joyner's quasi-religion, Scientology also appears to use numerous simple sketches to make points.
I am no expert on new religions, but I think that what Joyner is getting at is creating a new religion. I'm not sure how this came about from a book, but I eventually used my credit card to give Joyner some money and attempted to screw around on his website to learn more about this Simpleology thing but could not figure it out. I kind of felt like a moron looking at a bunch of comic strips.
In sum, I think Mark Joyner is a fascinating guy. He may or may not be a charlatan; I do not know. What he does in The Irresistible Offer is sell ice to Eskimos by packaging something written about extensively by others in an easy-to-understand format and attempting to convince readers that they are reading something truly original. I have to hand it to Joyner. This guy is the master of selling the sizzle. If Joyner can expand his understanding of these existing well-known principles to publish original ideas of his own, I believe that he will be one of the better marketing minds of all time. I like Joyner and his enthusiasm for marketing and sincerely hope to see the product of his own original thought.