Sales Secret of the 'King of the Blues'

The King of StorySelling Blues.png

On his 1965 album “Live At the Regal,” the great B.B. King demonstrates that he’s more than a great musician. He’s a great salesman too.

What is he selling?

He’s selling his music, for sure. But he does it in a special way.

Between each song, as the band vamps in the background, B.B. talks to the audience. He builds a relationship with the crowd. He identifies their shared humanity, their shared misery, their common mortality.

Remember when we discussed the M.A.E.S.T.R.O. Copywriting Framework? What does the “M” stand for? The Market and their Misery.

The salesman’s or the copywriter’s or the business owner’s 1st priority is to understand and identify the market’s misery points. In B.B. King’s case, he identifies his audience’s misery quickly and easily. Life is hard. My woman’s gettin’ me down. My life situation is gettin’ me down. Etc."

How does he sell it?

And how does he get his audience to feel it, to participate with him? He uses the “E” of M.A.E.S.T.R.O. Empathy. Every song tells his own story of woe, trouble, hardship, troubles at home, troubles a work, troubles with love. He tells his own story and his audience immediately identifies with him.

The blues is the perfect storytelling framework. It’s a simple musical framework built on 4 chords and in a looping 12 bars of music. But the words are not the only storyteller. B.B.’s guitar is a huge part of the story telling too. It’s the emotion that speaks louder than words. It taps that common vibe which provides an emotional bass line for each person, whether performer or listener, to sing their own version of the blues internally in the hall which has turned into a high powered lizard-brain powerhouse.

All the intellect is turned off. There are only emotions left in the room. That’s the power of the blues, and of many other types of music. It bypasses the cognitive and goes straight for the emotional. If we can do the same in our copy, our sales messages, it’s a win-win. We help the listener win by solving their inner misery with our empathy and our product. And when we help our listeners win, we win.

My favorite is in the 4th track on the album, “How Blue Can You Get?” He starts out asking if it’s ok if he can play his guitar a bit. This gets the audience primed for his story. This is like the “Pre-Suasion” Robert Cialdini (affiliate link) talks about in his excellent book. They are pre-sold and now he tells them the details of his story.

Here’s the story:

Verse 1 — set up
I’ve been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met.
I say I’ve been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met.
Our love is nothing but the blues, woman.
Baby, how blue can you get?

Verse 2 — more set up
You’re evil when I’m with you,
And you’re jealous when we’re apart.
Yes, I say you’re evil when I’m with you,
And you’re jealous when we’re apart.
How blue can you get baby?
The answer’s right here in my heart.

Verse 3 — climax
I gave you a brand new Ford,
You said, “I want a Cadillac.”
I bought you a ten dollar dinner,
You said, “Thanks for the snack.”
I let you live in my penthouse,
You said it was just a shack.
I gave you seven children,
And now you wanna give ‘em back.

Verse 4 — tag
I say I’ve been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met.
Our love is nothing but the blues, woman.
Baby, how blue can you get?

I love that Verse 3. If anyone’s ever been “downhearted” or put down by their “woman,” B.B. hits all their buttons in this song.

When you’re writing your sales message for your product launch, make sure you know the “M.” The Misery the people in your Market are feeling. They’re Mortals just like you and me. They have private Misery just like anyone else. Let you copy sing the low-down blues of that misery so they feel that you get them, you know what they’re feeling, and you can describe it maybe even better than they can.

Once you get them into this emotional state, they are all ears to hear your offer and consider your solution.

Go forth and sing the blues!

Doug