10 Ways to Make Money Selling Something You don’t Need any Longer

10 ways telling you how to sell something you no longer need is a famous article about business marketing ideas –  the most outstanding and creative advertising approaches, which aroused huge interest among advertising and allied specialists. We invite to refresh the memory about those educational and brilliant examples of how to sell your product.

Indeed, if advertising is the engine of commerce, then the heroes of this given article did an excellent tuning of the engine. They are kings of sales, skilled liars with lots of brilliant ideas. Their approaches of selling are simple and great at the same time, and their names will be known for what they’ve done in advertising. Basing on their experience you can make money literally out of your head. So if you have got a head and something you no longer need in a garage (at a company warehouse), these great ideas will help you to come up with ideas and sell any stuff easily. Let’s learn marketing from the best!


1. Turn disadvantages into unique features (even if it is not true)

Just like James Young did.

It is a generally accepted practice to make beginners do heavy and dirty work. You may call it initiation or whatever, but it’s widely spread way of solving problems. The same happened to James Young, a young manager who started working at J. Walter Thompson dispatch company – JWT United States, in 1941. The company received the party of spoilt apples damaged by frost and covered with black spots. These apples were supposed to be sent to customers, but having seen that fruits gone bad, JWT authorities didn’t know what to do. First, they were going to cover apples with green wax and send them to customers like this, but then they came up with a better idea. They decided to charge with solution of the problem a young manager. But James Young was not going to cover the apples with wax or something, no way! He sent the apples just like they were, accompanied by the following letter: “Kindly, pay your attention to those black spots. They point to origin of these apples, which were grown in the mountains with rapid temperature changes. Thanks to these rapid temperature changes apples are so juicy and fragrant. If it figures out what we said is untrue, you may send the apples back to us”. Not a single customer returned the apples back; on the contrary, almost all future orders for the next harvest were accompanied by a note: “Send those apples with spots.”

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2. Stick out among others

As 3Suisses publisher did.

In 1931 human laziness made great progress, as the first catalogues appeared. In those days catalogues were not sent by post, but sold at bookstores. There was just one disadvantage: there were too many of them and they all looked alike. So booksellers stack them up and let the people search themselves for what they needed. Fortunately, all catalogues were of the same size, and so it was very easy to stack them up into perfect equal stacks. Those stacks were so perfectly equal so buyers just took the one from the top, not to destroy that beauty. Having noticed that, 3Suisses publisher decided to change the size of 3Suisses catalogues in halve, so booksellers had to place them on the top, otherwise the stack would just fall. Thanks to this simple trick 3Suisses managed to significantly increase their sales.


3. Get benefit from your own mistakes

Just as Harley Procter did.

A long time ago, before TV and Institute of Hygiene appeared it was very difficult to convince buyers that your product was the best. Nowadays it is enough to let people know about horrible staphylococcus and collibacillus to sell them a bar of soap. At the rise of marketing most soap makers had to use any possible tips and tricks to sell a few extra bars of soap. Before Harley Procter met Gamble he was just a small soap making business owner and had great problems with selling his product. Having inherited from his father a soap business, the young man could not make his mind about what to do with it. As a result, the commodity laid at a warehouses for weeks, and quite often downtime began to happen at factories. Once, one of the tanks with soap was kept on the heat longer than usually, making the soap mass filled with bubbles and perfumes evaporated. The soap figured out to be of unusually white color, with neutral smell and very light. Harley wanted to get rid of the soap mass first, but then he noticed that the soap didn’t sink in the icy water, but floated. So he created a new brand of soap and named it Ivory. And he began to sell it under the slogan “Pure…it floats!”. Grateful housewives immediately went to Harley to shop for the novelty. So-called mistake brought a businessman about 7 million dollars of the revenue!


4. Give people the impression of care

Just exactly like Spinach Can Company did.

In 1929 a new animated cartoon film appeared. The main character was named Popeye the Sailor man, and all children of those times wanted to be and look like their favorite cartoon hero. To tell the truth, he wasn’t the sailor actually, but this didn’t ruin the heroic image of Popeye and although his offender was a big and incredibly muscular guy named Bluto, it was Popeye who always easily won, because he ate spinach. Spinach that made Popeye a superhuman and gave him the skills and powers he needed occasionally. That was the most powerful healthy lifestyle promotion ever. Popeye the Sailor became a sex symbol and Max Fleischer, a person who adapted the character into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts, was acclaimed a fighter for the nation’s health. Such reputation and all the glory were especially pleasing if to take into account the money he was paid by Spinach Can Company. Because playing a careful fighter for the nation’s health figured out to be the first and the most cynical product placement ever known. And just like that Popeye appeared on the screen with a can of “magic” spinach. This idea and the popularity of cartoon character help boost spinach sales to this day. The truth was uncovered only fifteen years ago, when product placement became a commonplace. But talented spinach go getters managed to avoid negative reaction.


5. Make people talk about you

The way Alex Bogusky did.

Alex Bogusky is a Creative Director at advertising agency Crispin Porter +Bogusky. He is probably the most interesting person in the world of modern marketing. There are different stories told about this relatively young man. For example, that he got a job at the agency when it belonged to Crispin and Porter solely. He had not any experience in brand advertisement, but this didn’t prevent him from sending to Crispin Porter founders his visit card with one rounded corner and the inscription “25% safer than other visiting cards”. Some are speculating that this was the only reason for him to become a director just like that. This may be just a made up story, as opposed to a real one about Mini Cooper. In 2001, Alex got the contract for the Mini Cooper company marketing in America. At that time their leading competitor mini VW Beetle has already gained huge popularity. Bogusky figured out there is no point in TV advertising, because the best advertising time (during the broadcast of the Super Bowl final) was already bought by Volkswagen. But Bogusky came up with a brilliant idea. He bought several grandstands on a stadium and placed there platforms with Mini Cooper. It looked like small cars were watching the match. As a result, all sports channels gave few minutes of their broadcasting time to Mini Cooper. Thus, expensive broadcasting time cost Mini nothing. Bogusky became one of the most in-demand advertisers.


6. Do impressing demonstrations

Do it the way Akio Morita and 6000 salesmen did.

In 1957, Sony proclaimed the advent of pocket-sized electronics and announced the output of a transistor radio that could be carried everywhere in a pocket. Nowadays words “pocket electronics” do not sound extraordinary to anyone, but in those days when a battery was camera-sized, and cameras were bag-sized, such words sounded pretty ambitious. Unfortunately, when a product was released it figured out the transistor radio didn’t fit a standard shirt pocket. Akio Morita, one of the company bosses, was the person who managed to prevent the overall depression and corporate hara-kiri. He offered not to sell the radios in electronics stores, but distribute them by means of salesmen instead.

6000 salesmen all over the world were supposed to knock on every door and offer to buy a new transistor radio that could easily fit a shirt pocket. With this, a salesman got a box with a transistor from his shirt pocket, and then put it back to demonstrate that the radio did fit a pocket. That was easy to do, because every Sony salesman has got a special shirt with enlarged pockets! Not a single person out of four thousand people, who purchased a radio during the first day of sales hasn’t noticed a nasty trick. Later, the fact that device didn’t fit the pocket was put down to the wrong fit of buyers’ cloths.


7. Arrange brainstorm

Like Bruce Barton used to do.

As the legend implies, a brilliant idea that brought Batton, Barton & Osbourne agency half a million US dollars income, entered one package boy’s clear head. It was like this, in 1957, U.S. Company Henckels released the party of potato peeling knives. These knives were amazingly handy and quite futuristic: plastic handle, and a self-sharpening blade. The first party was sold out within a week, but after a little while the demand subsided. Henckels become trapped by their own innovations. The knives were so good that housewives didn’t need to replace them with new ones. When the company was pretty much on the verge of bankruptcy, the bosses came up with idea to ask Bruce Barton and his advertising agency an advice. Having pored at a problem, Barton gave up and decided to make the first in the marketing history brainstorm. Within the nest 16 hours one hundred of mature and mentally sane BB&O employees paced back and forth about the corridors and shouted the most varied associations with the words “knife”, “potato”, and “peeling”. Finally, one of the package boys came up with a brilliant idea. He offered to paint handles in color of potato peelings. And this was an ingenious solution: housewives accidentally threw knives all together with the peels, and had to buy new knives. This solution saved the company, and Bruce Barton wrote a book about brainstorming, and the rest of his life lived on the royalties received.


8. Plan an escape route

Follow the example of Swedish television.

Humanity always took innovations with a grain of salt. Mongol-Tatar Yoke,   flying machines, fast food, it took a good tenth anniversary to introduce all these things. But I suppose nothing encountered such a strong opposition like nylons did. Durable fabric with a solid texture, almost cosmic material of wild colors, quite a long time couldn’t compete with silk stockings. In 1962, nylon came into cold Sweden, where women wore stockings even in summer. It figured out nobody wants to wear nylon stockings. At this point manufacturers turned to the television. Local specialists didn’t know how to sell an idea to Swedish women and convince them to wear nylons. To tell that nylon stockings were better than silk ones would be a lie, which could be seriously punished. Members of a television crew then came with an elegant solution. On April 1, they announced that if to pull up the nylons over the black-and-white receiver, it would become color. The same day thousands of credulous people rushed to stores for new color stockings. Next day the same thousands of people, though this time indignant, rushed to the television broadcasting center building. It was no wonder that they were angry, because nylons of different colors didn’t turn their black-and-white receivers into the color ones. But broadcast center workers had a pre-planned escape route, and hid their mistakes by saying it was just a joke! Having suffered disadvantages, Swedish women had nothing to do but wear new nylons. In time, the product came in fashion.


9. Compromise competitors

Just like Phineas Barnum had no scruple to do.

A red nosed clown Ronald from McDonald’s is not the only circus performer who was involved into advertising. Long before, in the XIX century, Phineas Barnum took a hand in brand-building. He was a plain circus promoter looking for freaks and strong men to get them on the big stage. But sometimes, at high remuneration Phineas turned into a marketing specialist. For example, in 1890, when the owner of fishing steamboats, Chester Deats, who made his living by fishing white salmon turned to him for help. By the time he opened his business, America was already glut with red salmon. White fish looked tainted, as opposed to red salmon and was hard-to-sell. For some 15% of the future revenues Barnum arrived at a simple and elegant solution. He offered to pack white salmon into cans with the inscription, “The only salmon, which doesn’t get pink because of packaging.” Canned salmon were sold well, making the Deats’s factories work day and night. Barnum earned a reasonable living by this idea, though, he died in 1891.


10. Reconnoiter the ground

Follow the example of Ettore Sottsass.

After the Third Reich collapsed, the Austrian painter and the ace of military-industrial design has nothing to do but go move Italy, the country that treated its fascists with most humanity. After the Second World War he secretly moved to the Apennines and got a job at the Olivetti Company. His very first order was to update the design of mechanical alarm clock, which sold way too badly. Having examined the alarm clock and found nothing wrong with it, Ettore went to the nearest clock store and laid in wait. There, to his amazement he discovered that all buyers (without any exception!) check the weight of the clock before buy it. Light models, including Olivetti one, were of much smaller demand, because they simply didn’t inspire confidence due to their light weight. Sottsass then soldered a lead ingot into an alarm clock and showed Adriano Olivetti the “updated” design. “So that’s it, your much-lauded design?”, Adriano asked. “Yes, that is all you need to change to sell them well”, Sottsass claimed, and he was right! For that he got a life pension and the glory of creative industrial designer.


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