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The one where we talk marketing, manipulation, and guillotines

Marketers are master manipulators

They use their powers of persuasion and intimate knowledge of you to immorally get inside your head, and force you to do something you ordinarily wouldn’t have done.

They go to conferences where they meet other marketers, and together they use the group’s experience to collectively conspire to manipulate even more effectively.

Some of them don’t have toes.

But what that has to do with marketing is anyone’s guess. It likely makes them even more skilled at the art of marketing manipulation. I’m sure of it.

And the worst of them all? Are copywriters.

They’re the guys and gals that write the actual words you read to unknowingly fall into the manipulation trap.

Send them to the guillotine! (

How many people do you know who think like this?

I’ve seen this opinion coming up repeatedly in forums and Facebook groups lately, where certain skeptics decide to rant about how they hate marketers.

They feel cheated every time they feel the urge to spend their precious cash on yet another app, course or book. Or they opt into a sales funnel and then allow their cynicism to wash over them as they know what this guy’s doing. He’s trying to make me buy. But I won’t fall for that! I know better.

What they’re really saying is: I fee duped. Like I’m being played. This person’s pushing my buttons, and I feel a teeny bit stupid that I’m actually falling for it.

Smugly thinking they know how the system works, they retreat to their basement studio, complete with flea-infested couch and damp walls, comfort themselves with reruns of The Big Bang Theory and call to mother to bring down their cereal.

But the thing they’re missing is this: they’re not the target audience of the marketer.

If they were, they wouldn’t feel any sense of being duped or played.

Instead, they’d read the sales page, nod their head, saying yup, that’s me, and be more than happy to hand over their money.

That’s what great copy does – targets the ideal customer of the seller, connects with them, and nobody else.

It doesn’t force anyone to buy, since the buying decision’s willingly made by the customer. They need this solution in their lives, and actively decide to buy.

Ok, so we buy things we want but don’t need all the time. My shoe collection attests to this on a daily basis.

But in the process of casually window shopping in my naïve state of I’m only looking, I’m allowing myself to buy. I’ve already assured myself that I want to buy shoes. The decision’s already been made.

The only thing I’m looking for is a company that convinces me the most that the shoes they’re selling are the ones for me (shoe section at Galleries Lafayette, you guys do this all the time).

But do I feel terrible that a brand connected with me enough that I couldn’t help but buy said shoes?

No.

I’ve handed over my cash, am on a retail therapy high, and gallivant on down to the nearest brasserie and ask them if they serve Chilean wine (you can imagine the look on a French waiters face when I ask this).

This is the part that people who hate selling don’t see.

Hands up if this is you. I know you’re out there.

You feel sleazy and uncomfortable, like you have two litres of oil in your hair and are about to sell a used car. You feel like you’re not being authentic because, rather than using the words in your head, you now have to rewrite and rephrase those words to persuade someone to buy.

And it’s this act of feeling like you have to persuade that makes you feel sleazy.

Do I have to write it in a long-form sales page, complete with yellow highlights and big, intrusive arrows? I have this life changing service that I know people need – surely they see it themselves without me having to convince them?

But the truth is, your target audience doesn’t see it. Not yet. And certainly not when you’re phrasing your sales messages like you’re writing a text book.

It’s your responsibility to find the right words that show your audience that your solution’s the one. They’re already looking to buy – don’t you want to be the one they decide to buy from?

Because in the process of marketing, you’re not manipulating; you’re facilitating the buying process for someone who’s ready to buy.

And unsurprisingly? The number of toes you have has nothing to do with it.

 

I’d love to know your thoughts: How do you feel when you write a sales page? Do you enjoy the process, or does part of you think it’s a necessary evil?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Clarke June 26, 2015 at 10:22 am

Hey Raz,

I think it’s a necessary evil because first and foremost, I am a coach, not a sales person or marketeer. I’m quickly learning though that I need to be – unless I stumble across a bundle of cash and can just pay someone to do the marketing and sales for me – cue tumbleweed as I march forlornly across the desert of no bundles of cash :)

The way I see it, marketeers (sounds like musketeers, doesn’t it?) don’t create motivation to purchase. They find it. Their skill is tapping into what is already there, and they bring it into consciousness.

In a way, it is a little like coaching. You find the persons ‘why’. You find their wants and their needs. And you help them get what they want.

Now, there are people that have no scruples and will find weaknesses that they exploit, yes. The skills are the same, but the morals are different. So the question for us is, “What is my motivation?” If our morals are sound and just, AND if what we are going to ‘give’ (yes, give) to the person we are selling to actually improves their lives (caveat – they must of course ‘want’ to improve their lives), then surely we SHOULD sell to them? No? Does it not then become our imperative, our duty to sell to them?

The thing is to think about every person that has bought your services and benefited from them. Aren’t they now glad you did? Aren’t you?

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Razwana Wahid June 30, 2015 at 11:33 am

Yes, definitely. OK, there have been products I’ve purchased and thought the sales process was misleading – but I’ve learned to ask more questions – we all learn from experience, right?

I like the way you connected marketing to coaching – makes total sense. We’re not changing behaviour – we’re adding value to it.

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