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Manipulation Blog

I stared at my inbox with increasing disbelief.

With increasing sadness.
With dismay.
With doubt creeping into my mind.

A slew of emails from marketing experts who crossed a line left me feeling so grubby, I wanted to dive headlong into the shower.

Psychology is crucial. Psychology is the key to getting potential buyers to take action. It works.

As a marketer, knowing the psychological triggers to action can be make or break in any campaign.

But there are some fine lines to walk.

Choice is imperative. Respecting a potential buyer’s freedom to choose, to make their own decisions and walk their own path is a fundamental value.

I typically see 3 levels of stimulating a response in potential buyers.

  1. Demonstrate a transformation. Lay out the possibilities and potential in front of a buyer, walk them through the ups and downs and give them total freedom of choice.
  2. Lean into the underlying energies that need to bubble up to the surface so that a buyer can see why they need to take action and what the consequences will be of not taking action.
  3. Tap deeply into the sub-conscious fears and anxieties of a potential buyer provoking an intense emotional response.


Level 1 is honest, transparent but prone to indecision by the buyer. Let’s be honest, we humans are incredibly efficient procrastinators. Results are generally slower but more considered.

Level 2 is less transparent but it is allowing a potential buyer to see themselves from a different angle and see new possibilities. Buyers are more likely to take action, more quickly.

Level 3 probably gets fast and good results. But it is also where it gets tricky and the lines are easily crossed. We humans have a part of us that lives in the darkness. This part of us controls vast swathes of our life without ever being seen. This is our sub-conscious.

When we knowingly step into the world of the sub-conscious to trigger buying behaviours, there is a massive moral imperative at stake.

Because for most people, the sub-conscious is actually in command of the ship.

In most cases that I see, the way in which it is used crosses a line and removes transparent choice and control from the buyer using increasingly subtle triggers for sub-conscious fears and anxieties.

Then when it doesn’t deliver, it leaves a bitter taste in a buyer’s mouth.

Persuasion and manipulation are a sliding scale and a slippery slope.

I am seeing increasing numbers of business owners step over the line of persuasion and into the realm of manipulation.

And I believe we will see more and more of it in our inboxes and our social media feeds. As the noise increases, especially online, the pressure to get results will escalate. And the tactics will get darker.

You have a decision to make.

Choose to honour the individual and empower their choice or to walk the path of making a profit no matter what the cost or the collateral damage. And no matter what taste it leaves in a buyer’s mouth.

I hope it is not a difficult choice.

Sustainability is built not on sales but on relationships.  Manipulation is short term gain for long-term loss.

As a society, it is time to call it day for the quick fix and recognise that it takes time to build a business.

The promises of overnight success are simply a lure for those chasing a dream. They are not real. Growing a business that will stand the test of time needs a whole lot more connection.

Truth be told, the vast majority of manipulative tactics are used in businesses that have foregone human connection for automation. To overcome the lack of real relationships, the sub-conscious thumbscrews are turned. It’s not pretty.

It takes time to connect with another human being and this has been sacrificed to the promise of overnight success (and riches).

It is time to remember that we are human, that we are souls in human form deserving respect for our sovereign right to make our own choices without interference.

Each of us brings to the world a unique energy and understanding. This is something we can only comprehend fully through connection. And it is through this that it is more than possible to move into an entirely new marketing model that depends not on triggers but on energy.

In the online world, the line between marketing and sales has become increasingly blurred. When they get completely wrapped up in a homogenous lump, the clarity gets lost. Sales is about selling. Marketing is a part of the pathway to sales but this is only part of its overall purpose.

Marketing depends on building relationships, interacting, learning, evolving and growing. It is an opportunity to share your energy and receive the energy of your audience. It’s a two way street. This has got lost along the way.

Marketing has become synonymous with funnels, ads, automation, landing pages, opt-ins and the list goes on. It has become synonymous with the tactics of delivery. The cart has been put well and truly in front of the horse.

What about the spirit of marketing?

What about its true purpose?

My purpose is to heal this disconnect between the energy and spirit of marketing and the tactics that are used to put the wheels in motion. My mission is to bring the essence to the fore so that I and my clients can lead, inspire and (above all) connect. Deeply and meaningfully. Creating real impact depends upon it.

Truth be told, the onslaught of manipulative and unpleasant messages hitting my inbox (in spite of my constant efforts to clear out the offenders) showers me with doubt at times. Can I really do it? Can I shift the paradigms of marketing?

Then I remind myself, a landslide begins with a single grain of earth that creates momentum and unstoppable force.

And I remind myself how grateful I am to those who have waded into the treacherous waters of manipulation. You have strengthened my resolve.

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