It can happen in your church. It can happen in your marriage. It can happen with your kids, and it can happen in your business! Manipulation can happen anywhere people don’t know how to influence people and make friends an ethical way.
There’s a dangerous line between persuasion and manipulation that many people cross when they want to influence people, but they either don’t know how, or they want to take shortcuts. We each have to choose our sales approach: one based on integrity or one that is based on lying, being unethically charismatic, and omitting information. In this article, we’ll break down the difference between persuasion and manipulation to show you how to influence people and make friends the ethical way.
- 1 Persuasion and Manipulation Sales Examples
- 2 What is Manipulation in Sales and Marketing?
- 3 What is Persuasion in Sales and Marketing?
- 4 A Scientific Study That Shows The Effect of Manipulation in Action
- 5 What’s Facebook’s Study Have To Do With Manipulation in Marketing and Sales?
- 6 25 Ways To Identify if You’re Being Manipulated in Marketing and Sales
- 7 Final Words on How To Influence People and Make Friends the Ethical Way
- 8 Now, it’s Your Turn…
Persuasion and Manipulation Sales Examples
To see this content on Youtube, check out the video below:
First, let’s do a game quiz to see if you can identify persuasion versus manipulation. Read examples one thru four and let’s see if you can guess the difference…Ready?
“Stop being a lazy, unsuccessful bum, and start making $500/day by playing around on Facebook. Simply by clicking like and adding a template statement onto Facebook one hour per week, you can earn the residual income of $500/day. Buy now to get more information.”
“Get my book FREE just pay $12.99 for shipping.”
“If you want to learn how to start a business, I’d love to help you today. I have over 100 hours of free coursework that you can look at, then if you still have questions or concerns, I offer consulting or premium courses that you can take a look at. If you’d like to jump right into the premium options, CLICK HERE”.”
“Let me show you how to achieve your goal of setting up a website over the next 30 seconds. Check out my step-by-step tutorial that will guide you along EVERY detail. If you have additional questions or you’d like something more fancy than what my free offer gives, we can schedule a 30-minute paid consultation.”
Can you guess which examples are manipulation versus persuasion?
…If you said manipulation for #1 and #2, you’re absolutely right! #3 and #4 are good old fashion persuasion!
What is Manipulation in Sales and Marketing?
Manipulation in sales and marketing is the unethical pursuit of a sale by lying, omitting important information, or distorting the truth for personal gain, and potentially at the disadvantage of the consumer. Manipulative tactics can be spotted by:
- Trying to force a sale by using guilt or some other tactic because the customer is not showing interest in the product or service your’re selling. Example: The customer clearly shows a lack of interest in the offer, but the salesperson goes on to say, “You shouldn’t let your family struggle month to month! I’m selling an opportunity to get you out of that struggle.”
- Attempt to close a deal without the customer fully knowing and understanding how the product or service will help them to achieve a preconceived goal. Example: “It’s so simple to make this money online. I can’t tell you all the details. Just pay the $1000 and I’ll tell you the first step”. Often times, marketers and salespeople are so focused on their personal goals (to get leads, to get sales, to get a boss off their backs, to pay their bills, etc.), they omit information for personal gain rather than for the better of the customer.
- Unwillingness to rectify or reimburse a sale when a customer recognizes they’ve purchased something that won’t help them achieve their goals. Some businesses offer manipulative money-back guarantees. When a customer realizes they’ve purchased something that doesn’t uphold all of their written promises or maybe they were being impulsive, they say “unless you show proof that you’ve read every line” or “unless you …, then we won’t refund your money”. This is manipulation, and you shouldn’t do business or work with companies who do business like this.
Manipulation can be quite easy to fall into. Manipulative behavior is common in many households, so often times, people overlook it! Many consumers and entrepreneurs may find themselves manipulating on accident! It’s something to be very careful of and to watch out for. According to PsychCentral, manipulation can be veiled many ways. They said:
Favorite weapons of manipulators are: guilt, complaining, comparing, lying, denying (including excuses and rationalizations), feigning ignorance, or innocence (the “Who me?” defense), blame, bribery, undermining, mind games, assumptions, “foot-in-the-door,” reversals, emotional blackmail, evasiveness, forgetting, fake concern, sympathy, apologies, flattery, and gifts and favors. Manipulators often use guilt by saying directly or through implication, “After all I’ve done for you,” or chronically behaving needy and a helpless. They may compare you negatively to someone else or rally imaginary allies to their cause, saying that, “Everyone” or “Even so and so thinks xyz” or “says xyz about you.”
Some manipulators deny promises, agreements, or conversations, or start an argument and blame you for something you didn’t do to get sympathy and power. This approach can be used to break a date, promise, or agreement. Parents routinely manipulate with bribery — everything from, “Finish your dinner to get dessert,” to “No video games until your homework is done.”
In example #1, the person used a pain point for the audience which was being categorized as “lazy” or a “bum”. Maybe their friends, family, or loved ones are referring to that consumer as lazy or as a bum, or maybe the consumer just feels bad about themselves. The example was targeting that insecurity and pairing a scam solution with their preconceived insecurity. No proof or exact strategies were mentioned, and there’s no long-term solution that you jump into today, skips adding value to others, and spends one hour a week and cashes out $500/day. This is clear manipulation.
Similar to example#1, example#2 is a very common manipulation technique being used nowadays. In most cases, rather than offering true value, the goal of the freebie giver is to get your mailing address and email address to continue marketing to the consumer. It’s okay if they honestly give the book away for free like they say. Often times, they lie, tell you their giving you the book for free, but actually, when you pay “shipping”, you’ve paid for the production of the book, shipping costs, and given them a profit. This is another example of clear manipulation.
What is Persuasion in Sales and Marketing?
As an alternative to manipulation, you can be persuasive in marketing and sales. Persuasion is the act of convincing. While manipulation and persuasion can appear very similar, the method is the biggest difference.
Persuasion is providing sufficient data to enable the consumer to be convinced in the necessity of the sale. For example, I’ve been convinced that email marketing is good for my business because I’ve read several books that show how it’s helped entrepreneurs to build relationships with their customers.
Someone could have tried to manipulate me into email marketing by saying things like, “You’ll never be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t start email marketing”, but persuasion was used to empower me with sufficient information to convince me to make an action decision.
A Scientific Study That Shows The Effect of Manipulation in Action
In January 2012, Facebook did a study to see how manipulation affected users. They experimented with 683,000 user accounts. For some, they omitted all positive posts. For others, they omitted all negative posts. The results were astonishing!
Facebook found that users who saw all negative posts like job losses, death, racism, and so on were creating more negative posts of their own. Users who saw all positive posts like vacations, raises, new babies, and positive things were contributing more positive posts.
In response, they said:
“These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”
What’s Facebook’s Study Have To Do With Manipulation in Marketing and Sales?
More than ever, marketing and sales professionals are able to leverage personal psychographics for business use. They can buy knowledge about what you like, what you dislike, and what your buying habits are.
They can use data to manipulate you or persuade you, and you want to be careful to do business with people who have integrity who treat you with utmost respect and honesty rather than those who are preying on you like meat for selfish gain.
After all of this discussion on persuasion and manipulation, I want you to walk away with some tools to identify the differences, so you can make buying decisions that are best for you rather than being preyed on in the market. Here’s a list of 25 ways to identify if you’re being manipulated in marketing and sales:
1. They insult you
2. They try to take advantage of bad timing
3. They hoard important facts that help make the buying decision
4. They are telling emotional stories or playing with your emotions to influence your buying decision
5. They are making big promises with no strategy to uphold it
6. They use volume, role, or position to make you feel cornered into a decision
7. They use subliminal messaging in music, videos, or images to influence your buying decisions
8. They use manipulated images or verbiage to make promises you’re expecting to acquire without the manipulation tools (examples: Photoshopping images for weight loss products or audio editting products for vocal lessons)
9. They blackmail you
10. They fabricate testimonials or reviews
11. They omit bad reviews and testimonials
12. They use your social circle to make you feel like an outlier
13. They compare you to others
14. They make you feel sorry for something you said or a concern you voiced
15. They rush you into a buying decision that may not be well timed
16. They deny something they said previously
17. The diminish your problems and highlight others
18. They communicate in passive aggressive ways
19. They make threats or use aggressive language
20. They try taking you out of your element. Examples: using large vocabulary words or jargon they know you won’t understand.
21. Their flat out bullies
22. They play the victim
23. They act needy. For example: “If you don’t buy, then we won’t be able to…”.
24. They’re confusing you and make you feel like you have to make a purchase for clarity
25. They’re selling you something for them rather than for you
Final Words on How To Influence People and Make Friends the Ethical Way
While persuasion or manipulation can both be done for a greater good, manipulation is overused and over-abused! It’s used to take advantage of others.
I’m sure I could write loads more on this, and maybe I will! The goal of this article was to show you how to influence people and make friends the ethical way. There are so many teachers out there instructing entrepreneurs to manipulate others for selfish gain. Alternatively, I wanted to encourage you to omit that advice, and offer value in an unrelenting way. Don’t look for shortcuts or allow yourself to be insulted in sales or marketing. If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
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Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you seen manipulative marketing and sales? Have you seen persuasive marketing and sales? What’s your best advice for how to avoid manipulation in the marketplace?