I always had a sweet spot in my heart for pitchman Billy Mays. Not just because I think my impression (BILLY MAYS HERE!) is pretty solid, but because Billy was a true American success story. Whether you loved or hated his style, there is no denying that he built himself up into an iconic figure. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone not familiar with his trademark delivery and appearance. (Black hair dye, some hair gel and a blue shirt.)
Here are several career lessons to be learned from the college dropout.
– Have your own style. Loud. Obnoxious. You might call it yelling, Billy called it projecting. Whatever you label it, it was undoubtedly effective. Standing out from the pack and becoming associated with success (OxiClean, Awesome Auger, etc.) can only help your career. Attach yourself to winners and future victories have a better chance to follow. It might appear that Billy accepted every product that came his way, but there were hundreds – if not thousands that he rejected.
– Sell yourself. When not referring to himself in the third-person, Billy trademarked his television ads the same way: BILLY MAYS HERE! From his first ad to his last. Now someone out there might be wondering ‘who the hell is Billy Mays!?’ But by putting his name on the line, he made you believe he was someone important.
– Work your ass off. From the boardwalk in Atlantic City to 12 grueling years on the road, it took awhile for Billy to arrive. And while information about his personal finances is difficult to come by, it’s fair to say Mr. Mays did OK for himself. He did, after all, purchase a $1.8 million home in Florida back in 2005!
– Multi-media. Billy was not content just doing TV. He started his own production company, lent his voice to several products and even had a book deal in the works. There might only be one King of All Media, but the greater your number of outlets, the better your chance at success.
Billy’s pitch was responsible for hundreds of billions of sales and he was damn good at what he did. With so many messages coming at us from so many directions, he distinguished himself as trust-worthy voice among the noise.
Follow his son, the third Billy Mays on Twitter = @youngBillyMays (You can also check out his music here. I say this kid makes the big time.)
What career lessons have you learned from Billy?
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