Manipulation…or Marketing?

Last night, I was listening to Seth Godin’s Startup School and had to riff about something that was mentioned. It’s a 15 part series available for free on iTunes where Seth Godin speaks with entrepreneurs and freelancers about their future. Big thanks to the guys at Earwolf for putting it together!

As I was listening to episode 3 (Creating Scarcity), I heard this insightful quote from Godin:

The difference between manipulation and marketing is manipulation is I get you to buy something that you regret later. And marketing is I get you to buy something you’re glad you bought.

It really struck me as the most misunderstood aspect of marketing–one that we will never live down I’m sure. The truth is that there is a fine line between the two, part of that is strategic and the other part tactical. Making this a complete cocktail of misunderstanding is the misinformation among our community about the difference.

The reality is that many businesses inadvertently make this fine line a gray area. They have a marketable product and then choose to manipulate people into buying it instead of finding the right customers. I must have been shown 1,000+ generic ads in the last year, all proclaiming they could help me refinance my house and save me $155,000, according to a sort of cute girl with a sort of green face. Still haven’t figured out if that’s on purpose. To communicate these display ads to me is to “spray and pray” their manipulation message in the hopes of getting a click.

In the end, companies will still send their messages of manipulation and fail to entertain the opportunity of a well-crafted marketing message, but it’s a choice. So choose to enchant your customers with your marketing. They will be glad that you did.


Editor’s Note: I wanted to include a longer version of this quote, but I thought that it changed the context of this post too much. Here is anĀ expanded version of the quote, and I invite you to download the full podcast. Again, free!

Brian Swanick

Brian Swanick here. I do digital marketing at EverythingSwan Digital Marketing. I work with businesses to find their customers and build their community through digital channels.

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