How Marketers Use Manipulation to Sell.

Seth Godin once said, "all Marketers are liars" and when you really think about it, marketers are also manipulators, too. I've always had this dilemma in my head because on one hand I don't want to manipulate people, but if I have a product or content that I know will help people, then shouldn't I do what I can to get people in front of it?

Manipulation is BAD…right? But can manipulation actually be used for good? Can you be authentic, and also use strategies and tactics that force a decision and get people to buy things?

We as humans do not like to feel like we are NOT in control, but every day we're met with things that we didn't even know were a part of some sort of manipulation strategy: a sale at a store, a title and thumbnail on YouTube that YouTube pushed into your homepage – all things created to try to get us to do something, even if we don't know exactly what's happening.

So in this video, at the end of a sale that expired at midnight, I share some thoughts to begin this discussion for you, to encourage you to do good with the power that is marketing, because it can definitely be used for bad, too.

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    16 Responses to How Marketers Use Manipulation to Sell.

    1. Josh Waitzman February 16, 2022 at 6:33 pm #

      Hey Pat! What’s the best way to get in touch with you? I’m 4 episodes into my podcast and would love to pick your brain. I’ve been following you for a while now! Love your style, my friend!!!

    2. Angela K. Sams February 16, 2022 at 6:34 pm #

      We help people take the action they know they want to take. 😉

    3. Dan Currier - Creator Fundamentals February 16, 2022 at 6:38 pm #

      Manipulate: “handle or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly or unscrupulously.” … worded as a subset of this definition: “Influence cleverly” – We all know there is a fine line and intention is everything. If you influence someone into an action that helps them then no harm done. I think the slippery slope is when some marketers convince themselves everything they do, good or bad, can be justified in the name of helping. This title plays on the emotion that “manipulation” evokes and therefore influences viewers to watch something potentially helpful. Sometimes people need help getting out of their own way

    4. Cip Rodriguez February 16, 2022 at 6:40 pm #

      It’s called Influence

      • BeautiFlo February 16, 2022 at 7:27 pm #

        Yes! Also, persuasion is a more positive word.

    5. HardcoreMotors February 16, 2022 at 6:47 pm #

      With this video you’re trying to justify manipulating people to give you their money- by manipulating them. LOL. Desperate times…

      • Pat Flynn February 16, 2022 at 7:03 pm #

        There no reason to justify anything, I’m bribing truth to the matter and showing it for what it is. If you feel otherwise though, well that’s you and i respect that. Already my students are getting value and so I’m not worried.

    6. Fabiano Pina February 16, 2022 at 6:49 pm #

      Why does every video seems to apply to me? Either we are a lot alike or you’re a mind reader.
      I was called a “master manipulator” for well, all my adult life. I was a self employed salesman and a very good one at that, always top 3, which made me feel as you explained, like a crook basically but, i knew that i was ultimately giving people the opportunity to afford and take their kids to all the attractions here in Orlando so i always felt good about my work. It led to a lot of “hate” from peers or jealousy, depends how you look at it.
      Ultimately, the company was acquired, I was offered a position as a manager, I tried but ultimately was not satisfied by working for a paycheck, then sickness, then I lost everything and now im rebuilding, wonder if ill always be known as that master manipulator.

    7. Dragon. February 16, 2022 at 6:49 pm #


    8. CodeBit February 16, 2022 at 6:49 pm #

      I highly disagree with you. 99.99% of all marketing is used in a horribly manipulative way. They overpromise and underdeliver. And don’t get me started on social media sites and apps. Did you really use that as a positive example? People are more depressed than ever due to the manipulation going on there.

    9. Karat Juice Podcast February 16, 2022 at 6:54 pm #

      I appreciate this perspective. I think that if you are adding value to people. You should not feel bad about giving them the CHOICE to buy into what you are offering. Keep up the great work Pat! Your videos are very helpful and insightful.

    10. Quackers February 16, 2022 at 7:11 pm #

      I do feel like the thinking of “My product is something I believe to be good for the customer, therefore it’s my moral obligation to market the sh*t out of it.” is a fine line where monetary incentives can push a marketer to delude themselves into buying their own hype just to justify the sale. Everybody has a vested interest selling their stuff, so of course everyone can genuinely believe their own product does good, whether or not that is act is actually the case.

      So I personally feel like that’s not all that makes marketing that is mutually good for the seller and consumer.
      I think another important part of it is the ability to respect the consent of the consumer and their ability to say no.

      Any marketing that feels like its leveraging FOMO and pressuring you to “CLICK NOW OR MISS THIS FOREVER”, in my opinion, crosses the line of being scummy. On the other hand, even though they’re practically similar, the idea of “Everybody who buys the product within this period gets this neat little bonus!” feels a lot less coercive and it’s framed in a way where I feel like I have more freedom to say no if the thing just isn’t my jam.

      Honestly, you can prolly just call all this very nitpicky cuz nothing was actually truly different bout those two examples, they’re both time-limited offers that were just communicated differently. But personally, I think how you communicate with your customers often says a lot about whether or not you turn out to be a very scummy business.

    11. Clear Call Ministries February 16, 2022 at 7:11 pm #

      Here’s a thought. What’s the difference between persuasion and manipulation? I believe persuasion helps people to see the benefits of acting now on something great for them (for their benefit…if used for good and not evil). Manipulation I believe is more like coercion or forcing against their will (playing with their mind). (Though you present it differently here)

      Maybe persuasion is more respectful of choice than manipulation or twisting of people. What do you think?

      But I certainly get the idea or context you are presenting this in. Thanks.

    12. Matthew Biggar February 16, 2022 at 7:54 pm #

      Great conversation here Pat, I’m with you. What is frustrating is “false scarcity” when marketers don’t follow through with their scarcity.

    13. Ekaterina February 16, 2022 at 9:03 pm #

      Can the world be a healthier place?

    14. Creative Entrepreneurship with Emmy February 16, 2022 at 9:43 pm #

      Sorry but I’ll have to disagree. Using manipulation for “good”? That crosses into a blurry line where bad practices are being justified by the marketer – which is something we see more and more. Predatory marketers don’t struggle with feeling bad. They honestly think they’re doing good by selling people into their programs. Just as bad politicians think they’re doing “good”. There is much more to this equation. “Intent” is not measurable, nor is it unfalsifiable which ultimately means this entire argument is just word salad. If you really want to change this trend, we should whole heartedly commit to non-manipulative strategies and come up with new language and new ways of marketing. Saying people will benefit from your program, thus manipulation is okay is irresponsible and reckless.

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