5 Sales & Marketing Lessons From Self Made: The Story of Madam CJ Walker.

3 weeks ago, I missed church because I spent the whole of Saturday night & early Sunday morning watching Self Made: The Story of Madam CJ Walker.

I’m not even proud of it.

But if you work in sales & marketing, let me tell you why:

If you’re looking for the secret ingredients for creating a sales message that can singlehandedly turn a small business into a mega success, they are hidden in Self Made: Inspired By The Life of Madam CJ Walker.

Have you seen it?

If you haven’t, here’s what I noticed when I did:

To create a powerful & compelling sales message, above all, you need to:

1. Resonate With Your Audience.

And that’s because people buy what or from who they can relate with.

You need to feel what people feel.

Or at least, show them you feel what they feel with your product.

This is how empathy works.

And you can do this with a background story.

But it’s even more powerful if you can make it a personal story.

This could be yours or through other people’s testimonials.

Madam CJ Walker did this in the middle of a market by gathering all the women around and telling them her story – her hair loss, poverty & travails as a black washerwoman.

Every single black woman in that marketplace could relate.

They were all poor, working hard back-breaking jobs & had little or no time to take care of their hair.

Which meant they were at a high risk of stunted hair growth or worst-case scenario, hair loss.

And this leads to my next point.

2. Address a pain

In Madam CJ Walker’s case, it was hair loss or stunted hair growth.

Yours could be different.

But of course, not every business is a business that addresses a pain or problem.

You could address something else.

But before saying your product doesn’t address any problems, ask yourself, why are noodles so popular?

Because noodles are tasty?

Or because it’s healthy?


It’s because it’s simple, quick & easy to prepare .

A meal that addresses 2 major problems with food:

Time & Cost.

For someone like me, I live alone, & I love cooking.

But the biggest problem I have is time.

What do you think would be my easiest meal of choice?

You got it right!

But in this case, I don’t like noodles 😆

But if I need to, I’ll buy noodles to save myself the emotional hangup of the time & stress involved in making meals.

And then justify it with logic.

As everyone does 😁

But to address your audience’s pain, you do it through one thing: RESEARCH

It’s the gateway to understanding your audience.

This is what helps you speak their language.

Emotions and desires are everything.

And research shows you how to tap into them.

3. Audience

“You can’t be everything to everybody” – J.Cole

To succeed from day one, you have to decide who your core audience is.

And then address the problems they have your product can solve.

For Madam CJ Walker, she segmented her target audience from day one:

3 million Negro women in America.

Which is the truth about every business.

You don’t need to sell to everyone.

If you sell a $1 product to 1 million people, you’ve made a million dollars.

Multiply it to whatever amount you want.

That’s the math.






FREE whatever.

Just give something away for free.

Especially at the beginning.

Whether it’s information, lesser prices, lead gen, bigger sizes etc, just do it.

Because if you don’t, your competitors would.

And if you do, your customers will feel like they are cheating you.

Let them.

It’s better to feel like they’re cheating you, than for them to feel cheated.

5. Big Idea

I felt this when Madam CJ Walker said “gonna find a way to set me apart.”

And that’s because I remember I was working on a product in January this year when my mentor asked me one simple question:

What’s the big idea? What makes it different from everything in the market already?

I didn’t have an answer for that.

Well, if I didn’t, how was I going to sell the product?


Big ideas don’t even have to be revolutionary.

Sometimes, we can craft this from a hidden benefit that comes from using our product.

A common mistake most of us DR marketers & copywriters make is we try to only sell what’s obvious.

We forget hidden benefits and only sell what’s obvious.

We sell the steak and not the sizzle.

We sell the oil and don’t sell the shine.

Craig Clemens did a Twitter thread weeks ago where he talked about the 4 most important areas a product can focus on to make serious money:

Health, wealth, love & status.

STATUS is powerful.

Ask yourself, what would hair loss/stunted hair growth mean to someone?

Or what would it mean to you?

To someone like me who’s made peace with it since my teens, I can’t relate 😁

But to some other guy, it could be the reason they can’t get women.

For some other person, it could be the reason why they aren’t comfortable in public.

Every single one of us has something we are insecure about.

For some, it’s their looks and appearance.

So, when Victor Asemota said, “true wealth comes from constantly creating happiness and extracting value from it.”

I felt it.

One of Coca-Cola’s biggest taglines is Delivering Happiness.

Does your product deliver some form of happiness?

That’s why some people put themselves at risk of plastic surgery.

They were just pursuing happiness.

For some people, hair is happiness.

To some, it’s a bigger ass or boobs.

A bigger wallet or whatever rocks their boat.

When Madam CJ Walker said things like, “Hair is beautiful,” a bald guy like me couldn’t relate 😆

But I’m sure people with beautiful lustrous hair can.

Even other bald people too 😆

For other things like answering objections, the need for endorsements, jumping on opportunity, having faith & resoluteness, the importance of branding & packaging, having deadlines & pushing yourself as an entrepreneur, you should see the movie.

If I start explaining, I’m going to miss church again today 😁

PS: I wrote this article because someone asked for a movie recommendation.

But don’t take my word for it, go see it for yourself on Netflix.

Just be rest assured that as you watch every minute, you’ll discover simple yet advanced psychological tactics for selling that will blow your mind.

Happy Sunday!

I hope this helps you.

Now that you’ve learned all these powerful sales and marketing insights, why don’t you discover more by following me on twitter.com/ucheokorolive

I mean, where else would you see such effective sales & marketing insights out here?

Where else? 😁

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *