affiliate summit keynote speaker Sean Dolan

This post was last updated on January 4th, 2022 at 09:51 pm

You know you’re screwed when the person standing before you asks everyone in the crowded ballroom to raise a hand if they’re easily moved to tears. So, should I raise one or two hands? I’m a self-proclaimed sap, so I guess I easily qualify for this exercise on marketing with emotion from Affiliate Summit Keynote Speaker Sean Dolan.

affiliate summit keynote speaker Sean Dolan

Marketing with Emotion

Dolan is the President and COO of Pushfire, an online marketing agency based in Texas. He got his start in marketing in a rather unorthodox way. Ever heard of Pimp this Bum? If not, I’ll get to that story in a minute.

The point is for marketers to sell a product, whatever that product may be, you need to get people to care about it. As Dolan says, “we connect people. We move people from point A to point B. We make them choose. We make them act. People don’t act on logic, they act on emotion.”


So I’m a blogger, not a “marketer,” WIIFM? You remember the saying “What’s In It For Me.” Well, that’s mistake number one, to think I’m not marketing something. My blog is my product. For anyone, beside my mom to read it, sorry mom, I need to make my content relevant. People need to respond. They need to like it and get something out of it. If they like it, they might click on my links. If they click on my links, I might make a few pennies. You get it! As Dolan says, “if they feel, they care. If they care, they act. It’s so simple, it’s stupid.”

Power of a Good Story

Now let’s get back to the bum and the power of a good story. I like a good story. Much to the dismay of my husband, I actually watch all those sappy behind-the-scenes olympic athlete stories that NBC insists on airing during the olympics. Why? I like watching the underdog succeed. I want to hear about the grueling hours they spend training and the sacrifices they make to achieve their goals. I want to root for them! I want to care!

Pimp This Bum

Sean Dolan’s Pimp this Bum campaign is all of that wrapped up in a very real and honest look at homelessness and addiction. It’s the story of Tim Edwards, a homeless man living under a bridge in Houston, Texas.

affiliate summit keynote speaker Sean Dolan
Tim Edwards Courtesy YouTube

Dolan set out to raise $100,000 to get Tim help for substance abuse and get him off the street. He started a website to raise money and awareness.

Pimp This Bum Goes Viral

It didn’t take long for the campaign to gain national attention. As Dolan says ,”it started with radio, then a news story in Houston. Then it went viral.”

CNN- Employs Irony on Homeless Man’s Behalf

CBS – Is It Right to “Pimp This Bum”

AdWeek- PimpThisBum: Salvation or Exploitation?

Regardless of whether you think the website is controversial or not, Sean Dolan is telling Tim’s story and making people care.  For the record his campaign was very very effective.


Surprise Ending

What Dolan didn’t mention during his keynote, but rather demonstrated instead, is that every good story has a surprise, something people aren’t expecting, but makes the story more interesting and compelling.

In this case, just when I put the tissue away after watching Tim’s story during Dolan’s keynote address, Dolan revealed his surprise. The crowd was silent for all of a millisecond before breaking out in a standing ovation as Tim Edwards walked from the back of the ballroom up to the stage. “Meet Tim Edwards!”

affiliate summit keynote speaker Sean Dolan

As Sean Dolan says, “if you want to catch lightning in a bottle you need to get to the highest point.”

So, what’s your story?

Affiliate Summit Keynote Speaker Sean Dolan

If you missed Sean Dolan’s keynote speech, you can watch below. Affiliate Summit is one of my favorite conferences. It bring together online marketers from around the world. Tickets are on sale now for the next Affiliate Summit. You can learn more about it here.

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  1. It’s funny – I was in on the surprise at the end, and it still got to me. And then reading your description of it got me a little choked up again. 🙂

    1. Thanks Shawn. I’m happy it all worked out for Sean and Tim. It could have easily taken a very different turn. I guess that’s another reason it’s a great story.

  2. I am now wishing I had attended it. But I was busy doing an interview and writing a blog post. But this is a great story. Some people would say he exploited the man, but I don’t think so. If everybody wins… everybody wins. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I know, so much to do and see at this year’s ASW17. I didn’t make it to half the sessions I wanted to attend.

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