There’s a new car washing business that will be opening up soon across the street. In front of the building is a big sign that says $7.62 + GST Car Wash – 4 minutes or less. Except that the “$7” is very very large and the “.62+GST” is very very small. Is this marketing manipulative?
Many people would say that much of marketing is manipulative. The definition of manipulate according to Dictionary.com is:
In the $7.62 car wash example, the business owner purposely made the 62 cents + GST extremely small so that many people would not see this. For people that drive by, their impression will be that the car wash is $7. Except that when they go through the car wash and pay, it actually costs $8 (which is $7.62 + GST).
But it’s only a $1 difference right? It’s not a big deal. That’s what the business owner is hoping for.
Manipulation might get your business more new customers to buy for the first time. And they might like your product enough to forgive you for manipulating them and buy again. Or maybe they didn’t even notice. But manipulation, no matter how big or small, is not a good way to build a healthy long-term relationship with your customers.
When you use manipulation in your marketing (or anywhere else in your business), what you are saying is that you care more about yourself than others. You’re saying that it doesn’t matter what your billboard says as long as you can get the sale.
Helpful marketing, on the other hand, considers the audience first. Helpful marketing communicates the right (and accurate) information to assist people in understanding your product, which ultimately helps them make a decision to buy the product or not. Helpful marketing attracts the right people and turns the wrong people away.
Is your marketing manipulative or helpful?