Barter Kings – Brilliant Show Exposes Down and Dirty Sales Strategies

Share & Comment

“Sometimes It Just Boils Down to Emotions!” – Barter Kings

I would argue, It always Boils down to Emotions!”

Barter Kings, A new A&E reality show I accidentally stumbled upon, which premiered tonight, exposes the brutal truth about marketing and sales. The show is about folks who find a product available to trade that they really want, usually worth close to $8000, that they get by trading up multiple products over the course of a couple of days for increasing value. They start by finding out what the owners of the product they want really wants, and than take a product worth about $100, find someone who desperately wants that item and is willing to trade it for something worth around $500. They than trade that $500 item for something worth $1200, etc… until they can trade up to the product the original owner wants for their product.

This one guy wanted a horse for his daughters birthday worth around $8000, the owner wanted a 4 horse trailer worth around $5000, the Barter King started with an item worth around $100 and four trades later, he heard his daughter say, “I will remember this day for the rest of my life.”

To close the trade, the Barter King leveraged his daughters birthday to appeal to the horse trailer owners emotions evident by her saying, ” Let’s make a little girl happy!” and parted with a valuable trailer for about $4000 worth of gold jewelry, which the Barter King got for an item worth around $1000.

The show is down and dirty, and sometimes you might question their ethics, but it shows the raw emotion involved in purchase and trading decision making, and how people perceive value. The Barter Kings are Masters at finding the soft spot of their target, and getting a trade that leverages emotions like golf clubs owned by an ex-boyfriend, a motor bike that someones wife made him get rid of, a chopper exchanged for a boat, an ATV traded for a Truck which was than sold for $10k, and some Elvis records traded for ten times their market value because the guy needed to apologize to his wife who worships Elvis.

The raw emotion exploited, the dreams sold, the message delivered is clear and simple. If you want to understand how and why consumers make decisions, and influence them… Watching Barter Kings will be a masters course on the topic… Let’s just hope the show sticks around long term… It is truly insightful.

Top direct response copywriters are paid a fortune because they take the time to understand peoples emotional triggers, while giving them the proof they need to defend their decision.

Ultimately, Every purchase decision is an emotional one, with a logical layer afterwards defending the decision. While mass marketing might need to appeal to broader pop psychology and general emotions like fear and greed. Seeing these strategies exploited on a very personal level is truly inspiring and I highly recommend all marketers check it out.

-For the Record: All value is perceived value, and while many might have a hangup about Barter Kings creating perceived value beyond the market value of a product is not only in my opinion fully ethical within the framework of being completely truthful. The goal of all marketers should be to delink price from the product and link it to value created. This is your fiduciary responsibility to your investors, bosses, and self, even if you work for yourself.

As a marketer, you will eliminate price resistance and create price elasticity when you focus on value created, not the actual product and its physical value.

“Always De-link product from price, and focus price on value!” – Dan Kennedy and Jason Marrs.

Share & Comment
About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


  1. Are you seriously this ignorant? down and dirty? no ones as gullible as these 2 assclowns lead you to believe… not even the real dumb ones. ill trade you my half eaten big mac for your brand new escalade that you got mud in and now you dont like. 

    • David Melamed says

       Hi nunya, I am conflicted between deleting your post because the language and tone are not in the spirit of what I want my blog to be, but I also want to maintain an open and honest dialogue with all my visitors, including the acrimonious ones.

      While I agree that the show is very likely a re-creation of what actually happened and the reality is not as simplistic, and would likely not work as it is portrayed in most situations… I do believe that they are based on true transactions, and that value is in the eyes of the beholder.

      We see this everyday with people buying a Lexus for more than a Toyota Avalon, even though they are the same exact car. The clothing industry has dozens of brands manufactured at the same factories, just slapping on different labels.

      My point with this post was that the concept of successful salesmanship boils down to understanding what your “target customer” values and delivering that value to them.

      If your wife was a huge elvis fan, and you really pissed her off by letting your Son break his leg on a motor bike. As a married man, I can assure you… I would easily talk myself into trading that bike that got me in trouble into a gift that can score me some “thoughtful” points, even if the physical value was not proportionate.

      I personally believe that the show uncovers the way smart marketers need to think when approaching a market, understanding the pain points, the driving fear and dream of greed that motivate action and focus on demonstrating how your product serves those benefits if you want to maximize value and make more money.

      • Skeptical says

        I do some trading/bartering and I don’t think some of the trades are made without a camera on the person and thier knowledge that they will be in an episode, just saying.  It’s like the guy giving stock tips, if you’re as good as these guys, you really wouldn’t need a show.  An they actually own a pawn shop, which the series seems to skirt.  Just sayin’.

  2. Sorry, but the show is a farce… They do casting calls in cities and then lure people to make these deals because (a) they get to be on television and (b) they get paid for their appearance.  One look at the thousands of people with no talent standing in line to be on American Idol shows how obsessed many are with being on TV.  They do these deals not because of the emotion or because of the deal itself, but to garner their own “15 minutes of fame”.  This show misleads people into thinking that these kinds of deals are common…  I do a LOT of trading on CL, and I can assure you that if you took away the camera and the show, few (if any) of these deals would ever happen.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.