“Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.” – Saul Alinsky, Born Jan. 30, 1909.
A lot of advertising writers talk some bullshit like “I use persuasion, not manipulation” and it used to really bother me.
But now it doesn't bother me because I realize they are basically saying “I refuse to be as good at my chosen profession as I could be.”
I'm cool with that because it gives me an advantage. It gives US an advantage if you're willing to follow me to the dark corners with a flashlight and a baseball bat.
A complete study of all manipulation of motivation that drives behavior in a reliable way – that is our bailiwick. No restrictions. No holds barred. I want to know all the tricks. From the con artists, the frauds, the cult leaders, the propagandists.
The ethics and morality of marketing and advertising come in when it comes to choosing a product that actually works and honoring the promises made.
Will it do that? Will it solve the problem it promises to solve? Will the buyer get what they paid for? If the answer is yes, then you have a goddamned DUTY to push your product on people who are SUFFERING. Relieve them despite their resistance in facing up to their own problems.
Am I going to let you sit on the fence and worry over eliminating your pain, just because you're scared of change? Because you avoid the uncertainty of trying to improve? Because you fear the failure you've experienced before now?
Fuck no. I owe you more. I love you more than that.
That is why I willing to scrape out the inside of your brain and heart and use whatever I can find there to make you do what I want you to do.
Every trick. Every dark secret of manipulation that I can shine a light on, beat down, and drag back into the light for the “good guys” like us to use.
Trust me, it's good for you, and I know better than you.
<!—- lagniappe Here is a short list of ways we can use dishonesty to sell people good stuff that will change their lives... 1. Write a message that comes from someone else. We do this all the time - are you hired to put words in someone else’s mouth? They sign the letters we pen. That’s not truth. But it’s ok, because we help them help people. 2. We agitate pain. We do this without permission or warning. Just like a movie that springs some sadness on you to jerk out your tears, we manipulate emotions to get people to FEEL the pain of the problem we want to solve for them. 3. We promise relief. We can’t actually know that we can keep this promise. We mean to. We have good reason to believe we can. But individuals are all different. There are exceptions. We ignore those and promise anyway, using a guarantee as a backstop against failure. 4. We fortify our claims with testimony. Even though it is illogical and misleading to present that claims of the success of others would have any implication or predictive power when it comes to anyone else’s success - we use these anyway. 5. We play with numbers. People are bad at mental math, as a general rule. So we use decoy pricing, rigged comparisons, weird quantities, and phantom discounts. All in service of convincing people that what we want them to pay is LESS than they should, relative to the value they get. 6. We create an artificial sense of urgency through manipulations of scarcity and rarity that may not be “real” except for arbitrary enforcement. A digital product can’t “sell out” unless we promise that it will. Spots aren’t really “limited” unless we deliberately withhold them. 7. BONUS. We use tricks like bonuses, upsells, downsells, changing prices, takeaway benefits, and a whole slew of other tactics to entice people to buy now and get more - vs. hesitating and paying more later to get less... Are any of these things unfamiliar to you? No - but I bet you maybe didn’t consider them as sneaky and underhanded as they truly are... —->