“When you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.”
– George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
Manipulation for fun and profit
As some of you might know, I’ve been working on a book about sales.
To make it perfect I do a lot of research and look into all kinds of different techniques and strategies. When it’s done you’ll be getting $100,000 of information for $10.
Over the weekend I ended up watching some videos on copywriting and selling. These covered some of the darker aspects of the trade, like manipulating clients and stretching the truth. I’ve linked one of the videos below, but it is a little long. If you don’t have time to sit through a 15 minute lecture, here are a few key points:
Clients are insecure about the problem your product solves.
There are two ads that every man has seen in the spam folder of his email. The infamous male enhancement message about increasing the “length and girth of your manhood,” and the letter about picking up women.
Ads like these have been done to death and are ingrained in pop culture. But they still get people to buy. Obviously good marketers do a better job and there are some products in these niches that actually work, but most of the sales come from insecurity.
Wilt Chamberlain and Gene Simmons aren’t ordering The Mystery Method. Those products are, generally speaking, aimed at men who have trouble meeting girls.
If there’s a magic bullet people are more willing to buy.
This is something that I’ve seen a lot, but never really thought about from a sales standpoint. A gizmo or gadget that can do something creates a lot of interest. People frequently email me about stupid programs that are supposed to automatically make you money with just the press of a button. I always give them the same response:
If a product that generated money without any input actually worked, why would the inventor put so much time and energy into getting others to buy it?
However, there are certain programs and devices that actually do work. Online dating is easier than going to a bar and approaching a huge group of girls. Selling services online is less work than owning a brick-and-mortar store.
With that said, How To Make $100 A Day Blogging sounds a lot easier than How To Make $100 A Day Working At A Coffee House even though the latter is actually less work. Blogging is the magic buffer in this case. The site is going to do all the work, or so the client thinks, and it won’t require as much effort.
Outlandish stories are better than facts.
Word choice can make all the difference. I could write a post titled “How I made $15 a day from three blog posts.” Or I could choose a headline like “I make $5,475 last year from these three articles.” Both are true, but the first is less exciting. In fact, I’m going to give you three true statements about myself that I could easily use for some shady marketing techniques:
1. I’ve flown in a private plane
2. I’ve sat behind the wheel of a Ferrari Testarossa
3. I’ve made thousands of dollars in my sleep
I must be quite the big-shot.
All of those are actually true. However, they were carefully worded. When I was 10 or 11 I got to fly in a propeller plane for some Boy Scout event. I’ve also had my picture taken in a Ferrari at an auto museum. And I’ve done a lot of work for clients in Asia who pay out while I’m in bed.
How you say it is just as important as what you say.
Our buying choices are driven by emotion.
When I worked in retail this was actually something that I noticed but couldn’t articulate. Most products were targeted towards a specific emotion. A smiling family drinking hot chocolate in their new turtlenecks. Everything appealed to the buyer’s feelings.
This doesn’t always have to make sense either. A new set of turtlenecks isn’t going to bring the whole family together. There is no logic but it doesn’t matter. People aren’t looking for something reasonable. In the video below the speaker talks about numerology. At the end of the day, most people into this topic just want to feel special. That’s it.
Same with being an entrepreneur. No one wants to spend Saturday night at their desk, but they do want show off how successful they’ve become and rub it in at the next family gathering.
I’m not a huge fan of manipulation. Honesty builds a following and benefits everyone. But I do think that some of these “dirty” tactics are still important to study. There are a lot of famous con men, Jordan Belfort comes to mind, who can teach us a lot. These guys might not be the most ethical, but they have some great information and can show you how to improve your own business.