Growing up where and how I did, put some “interesting” core personality traits in me. One is that when I meet a person for the first time, I am automatically sizing them up: Are they a threat? What is their intent? I am skeptical of everyone and everything until I deduce otherwise–even if only for a millisecond. To some this might sound like pathology of sorts and maybe it is-but it mostly serves me well. Looking at the state of marketing nowadays, I come across lots of “gurus” and courses that teach our craft in a way that deeply troubles me. They invoke visceral reactions from the inner wise-ass, working class Jersey boy that lives in my (not so) deep subconscious and just loves calling out other people’s bullshit.
It’s not that these techniques don’t work, because they do (in a way), otherwise we wouldn’t have the Home Shopping Network and other “As Seen on TV” style empires, but ask yourself, is that what you really want to be? Is that the brand you want to build for you business, for yourself?
Don’t believe me, just look at the terminology: tripwire, squeeze page, indoctrination, value loop, implied scarcity… These are terms a street hustler might use back when I was a kid in New Jersey…I probably was smoking “loosies” and brown bagging it on a corner with this guy when I was sixteen…this isn’t how I want to engage with people, this isn’t going to help me connect in the meaningful way I need in order to build trust. This is quick, it is misleading, it is here one minute, gone the next.
Learning the techniques and psychology of connecting to people through marketing is a good thing-it is a crucial part of our craft. Being great at this is almost like having a super power. If you have the skills and insight to craft and communicate stories in a way that influences and attracts people, then you truly are special (and probably sought after). The thing to be mindful of is the subtle line between influence and manipulation; between convincing and deception.
I always say, like it or not, everything is marketing and we are all “marketers”–because marketing and branding, when broken down to their simplest form is story telling. From selling products to spreading ideas to dating–in every case, you are telling your story to a potential customer, student, mate, etc. If your story isn’t compelling to them or doesn’t add up, they will move on to the next narrator. Master storytellers can influence and mobilize people en masse; they can sell a million widgets or facilitate a political revolution and they can always get a first date.
Once you master your marketing skills and become that sort of storyteller, it can be tempting to cross the line–or even worse, get so comfortable in “grey areas” that you don’t notice you have. Spinning things and bending rules for quick results is a slippery slope that has never had long-term value. I suppose it could make you rich, but at what cost? Eventually the skeptic in all of us catches on and then what?
In the end, like everything else that holds power, there is a responsibility associated with it. Be sure that you always use that power wisely. Be sure to always use your power for good.