One of history’s greatest salespeople: Charles Atlas

One of history’s greatest salespeople:  Charles Atlas

One of history’s greatest salespeople: Charles Atlas

FROM THE DESK OF UNGLE G:  There are only a few people who go down as some of history’s greatest salespeople and Charles Atlas was one of them.  If you know the name, Charles Atlas was iconic because of his famous advertisements that brought in millions of dollars back in the 1930’s and 1940’s selling fitness routines.

He sold the idea of a better body, but what he really sold was CONFIDENCE.

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You couldn’t open a comic book back in the day without seeing Charles Atlas somewhere inside its pages.  But why was Charles Atlas so successful, why did his programs sell?

There are Three Main Reasons Charles Atlas is one of history’s greatest salespeople:

ONE: He knew his audience’s PAIN POINTS and FEARS

He shows a typical self-conscious skinny guy not only being bullied, but getting emasculated.  What’s worse in the mind of a guy than getting pushed over at the beach by some big dude?  Having your girl shame you for it.

Charles Atlas knew his audience, so he knew what they feared.  And he poked their emotions.

TWO:  He showed he had a SOLUTION to their PROBLEM

After the weakling gets bullied, the story shows the young man getting Atlas’ strength training program.  Notice that the comic doesn’t spend time on the actual time and WORK it takes to transform your body—it just uses the easy transition “LATER,” which spares the customer from thinking about any pain or work they’ll have to do in order to get results.

This is not necessarily deceptive, because when you’re selling, you need to highlight the BENEFITS people will get from your product, not highlight all the details and process.

Are you showing people the main benefits your customers will get from your product or service?

I, for example, help people become wealthy—but I don’t dwell on the fact that it usually takes some amount of time. I paint them the picture of the end result they desire to have.

Charles Atlas was a master of this, letting his audience imagine how their life could be different once they had his product.


Charles Atlas promised muscular development and a better life.  He came up with a great name for his program: “Dynamic Tension”.  But above all, he was willing to send people a book to get started for FREE.

This reduced risk for his customers.  And the truth is, ALL great salespeople know how to reduce risk in the minds of customers.  Of course, Atlas would use that free book to show the customer more of what he could do for them, and later to up sell them on his core training program.

But it wasn’t the customer who had to risk, it was the person selling—he had to be so confident in his product and service that he’d be the one to take on the cost of sending them something for FREE.

What made Charles Atlas Successful?

The ability to tell a story is vital to selling.  People connect with stories. It hooks them, and their imagination can put them in the character’s place.

Big difference, right?  Is it cheesy?  Maybe.  Does it reflect an actual emotion that is true, that men feel all over the world?  You bet it does.

And that’s why Charles Atlas was a masterful salesman…

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