The Wolf of Wall Street is perhaps one of the most controversial films ever. While some critics called it “funny, self-referential and irreverent to a fault” (Rotten Tomatoes) some critics were quick to point out that the movie was “an irresponsible glorification of Belfort and his associates rather than a satirical takedown”. The cinematography aside, the movie does have good marketing advice that is perhaps an untapped goldmine for digital marketers.
The movie follows Leonardo di Caprio pas Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who loses his job on Wall Street and decides to open his own stockbroker firm. With the help of his friend and business partner, the movie follows Belfort’s rise and fall in his career as a stockbroker in New York. Belfort and his business partner recruit among their friends and train them in the art of the “hard sell”, an exciting marketing tactic this article is about to break down.
“Sell Me This Pen” - The identification of need and urgency based on supply and demand
Before Belfort recruits his new team, he asks Brad (played by Jon Bernthal) to sell him a pen. Brad takes the pen and proceeds to ask Belfort to write down his name on a napkin, to which Belfort says that he doesn’t have a pen. “Supply and Demand” Brad then proceeds to oh-so-graciously exclaim.
Identifying “need and urgency”. Depending on the need and the urgency of requiring that need, Brad was able to find the perfect position in Belfort’s demand that matched Brad’s supply.
Knowing your audience and selling like an artist
Belfort wasn’t simply a “stockbroker”, he was also a psychic. Yep, you heard that right. Belfort knew what his audience wanted even before his audience knew what they wanted. Knowing your audience when it comes to marketing is in itself half the job. Marketers often oversell or undersell their products. In the movie, we see Belfort being smooth, charming and charismatic, but not to a point where it was too sweet to digest. He was able to sell literally anything with this. After all, he did manage to sell stocks of a “garden shed” to an unsuspecting investor.
The art of persuasive marketing
There’s a thin line between persuasion and manipulation. If your persuasion crosses the line, it doesn’t take your customer much to believe they are being manipulated. In the movie, we see Belfort begin his pitch aggressively and then persist on that pitch. What we do not realize is that persistence is key in marketing. The way you pitch your product is important. It creates a compelling presentation in front of our audience. Marketing is all about presenting, pitching and persisting not only the product but yourself as well. Belfort exudes passion and determination in the movie that even makes the viewer want to buy the stocks he’s selling.
“Selling Penny Stocks” - The Sleazy, Schemy Selling Principles
- The first four seconds
Know your audience and know your opening. Belfort had his team use a script and promised that if stuck with it, they would see results. Which they did. The first few sentences of the script were enough to influence the buyer. Belfort’s script had his friends sounding like professionals who were knowledgeable experts in the field, while they actually anything but that.
“Why should they trust you?’ I mean, look at you, you’re a bunch of f****** sleazy salesmen.”
Behind the lines, that’s what they were. On the other side, they were professionals you could trust. Through the single phone line, they were selling lies. But the buyer didn’t know that. All he believed was that the caller was empathetic, sincere and caring. Which is exactly what their tone suggested.
That doesn’t mean that you have to stoop to lying. Lying is the number one offender to buyers. They don’t want to be cheated on or lied to. They want honesty and transparency and that is exactly what you’re going to offer them.
Jordan Belfort’s selling principles might have been immoral, but he did have a point. The first four seconds ARE crucial. You have to have a grip on your buyer. Humans are known to have short attention spans. Why waste four precious seconds on something they don’t want? Making your pitch gripping right from the start is what’s going to reel your customer right into where you want them. Then it’s all up to a matter of your tone.
Team Motivation - Your Lack of Trust in Your Coworker is Astounding
Belfort’s team might have been slightly festive (who am I kidding. They were excessively festive) with their partying, but they had one thing that can be quite hard to find: teamwork. They had each other’s back, they constantly boosted each other up and they always were there for each other. Can you say the same for your team?
In the movie, you see how Belfort is always, always, always supporting his team.
“All you have to do today is pick up that phone and speak the words that I have taught you, and I will make you richer than the most powerful CEO in the United States of f****** America.”
Belfort knew that in order for his team to be motivated, he had to be motivating, which is what he proceeded to do. In fact, he motivated them so much that they began yelling motivations at each other in an endless appreciative loop.
Losing sight - The Not-So-Graceful Fall of Jordan Belfort
It’s easy to lose sight of what you want. Belfort used to pump and dump stocks, which was an illegal activity that eventually led him to jail. The Wolf of Wall Street is an entertaining movie filled with marketing advice that is useful, but the movie also stands as a cautionary tale. Belfort started his business successfully, but it didn’t take long for him to turn it into ripping people off while under the influence of drugs. Ultimately, the movie can be boiled down to one single line – Don’t lose sight of your goals because things can become really bad really fast.
At the end of the day, the biggest question remains; is the Wolf of Wall Street’s marketing strategies legit? The answer to that is an absolute yes!
Maybe the advice isn’t straightforward, and maybe it wasn’t exactly portrayed in the greatest light, but as an unbiased lover of film and marketing, this writer must admit that the movie has some of the greatest quotes in the 21st century, which is why the Wolf of Wall Street will forever be considered one of the best movies of all time.