Marketing is a tool for selling products and services. But like any tool, we can use it for either noble or nefarious purposes.
One might think that the test of good marketing is how effective it is in getting people to do what we want them to do. But at White Hat Matt we believe this is a faulty test.
Consider Joseph Goebbels. He served as the Reich Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany under Hitler. Goebbels’ marketing was extraordinarily successful in terms of getting people to do what he and Hitler wanted them to do. But of course, their marketing scheme was designed to manipulate, spread lies, and promote an evil agenda. They were successful in duping an entire nation.
In the case of Goebbels, both the “product” and the methods for selling that product were evil, wrong, and immoral. As far as the product is concerned, we all think we’re pretty savvy when it comes to detecting a sales message that is “too good to be true.” But nefarious marketing methods may be more difficult to detect.
Perhaps at one time, we’ve all succumbed to an ad selling a “snake oil” product, and as a result we learned our lesson. I once booked a cabin rental at a hot springs resort, which – based on the photos – looked clean, spacious, and appeared to be outfitted with the necessary amenities. When I arrived onsite, however, the cabin barely had enough room for my luggage, the ceiling was covered with gnats, and there was no tub or shower in the bathroom!
If we believe that good marketing is merely getting people to do what we want them to, then we must admit that they did a great job at marketing when they tricked me into booking that cabin. If that’s what you think good marketing is, then I feel sorry for you and your customers!
But if you believe in a moral, ethical approach to marketing, then we must keep looking for a better test.
Characteristics of Nefarious Marketing Methods:
- Built on lies
- Misrepresent and mislead
- Spread propaganda
- Justify any means to obtain a desired end
- Evoke guilt and shame
- Manipulate through deception
- Describe what we do to people
- Consist of a “bag of tricks” to pry money from people
We cannot justify any of those nefarious marketing methods even if we are marketing the best product or service imaginable. We might be able to fool the naïve or uninitiated once, but we’ll be repelling clients. Like the snake oil salesmen of the wild west, we would deserve to be run out of town.
If pure sales numbers don’t reflect the true test of good marketing, then what does? The true test of good marketing is that it must be people focused.
Characteristics of People-Focused Marketing:
- Built on truth
- Represents products and services accurately
- Promotes positive testimonials
- Evokes trust and loyalty
- Appeals with transparency
- Describes what we do for people
- Gives away value before asking for the sale
People-focused marketing approaches selling with the genuine attitude that we have something very valuable to offer people that will improve their lives. We seek to serve others by providing them with some benefit. Try to be persuasive but not deceptive. There is an honest and ethical way to write sales copy that taps into customers’ needs and desires. You can learn how to write persuasive sales copy that demonstrates the benefits of your products or services here.
In order to market with a focus on people, we need to identify with people in both their pain and pleasure. One of the best ways to do this is through storytelling. Stories offer a great way to connect with people. A story, especially about ourselves, humanizes marketing. Through our storytelling, we communicate, “People like us do things like this.”
In your marketing, be real and authentic. Tell people why you care about what you do. Keep people first. Your business exists to solve others’ problems.
Another great way to communicate your integrity and genuineness to others is through value-first marketing. This involves literally giving away some of your best stuff for free. Some may cringe at reading that, but the truth is when you give away stuff for free, people think, “Wow! If this is what you give away for free, the stuff you charge for must be really valuable!”
The other thing that happens when you give away some of your best stuff is that people have an opportunity to “test-drive” your products and services. Following their “test drive,” they go into a purchase with their eyes open. They know they’re not being duped. They trust you, and that’s worth a lot!
Finally, when you engage in value-first marketing, you have a legitimate reason to ask people for their contact information. Value-first marketing is a great way to build your client list. And because you’ve already given them something valuable, they feel they can count on you to continue to deliver good stuff. Maintaining a people-focus is the true test of great marketing. In people-focused marketing, everyone wins!
You don’t need to resort to cheap tricks or dishonest methods to sell your product or service. Focusing on your customers’ needs and providing them with value even before they make a purchase is an ethical and successful way to help others while boosting your bottom line.