The other day, I was wondering about why there was such an appeal to marketing courses that taught secrets of unconscious persuasion, stealth tactics, invisible influence, secret closes, ninja strategies etc.
The implication of all of these approaches was that no one would notice what you were doing. No one would notice that you were steering them towards buying from you. They would just, unexplainably, feel compelled to trust and buy from you. They’d just leave the conversation with your product proudly in their hand thinking that they had made the decision when, in fact, it was all you and the secret arsenal of tactics you’d deployed throughout the conversation.
Neuro Linguistic Programming comes to mind in this.
I think the reason that these workshops are so popular (and why even the most conscious of us have taken them or been drawn to them) is because we think marketing is bad. We think we are doing something bad by sharing our products or services with others. And so, we’re trying not to get caught (but, of course, we need to do it to pay rent).
It strikes me as a similar dynamic to what I’ve seen in the pick-up workshops offered to men. This same offering of ways to get what we want, as men, without being noticed.
I’m sure there are workshops out there for women that offer the same things.
I see this often in human interactions when someone is deeply ashamed of their own needs and scared to make any requests of others that might meet them.
And so much of it seems to be rooted in shame.
So much of it seems to be rooted in the deep sense that I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.
And so, of course, we are drawn to anything that promises that our actions will have the intended effect while going unnoticed.
When this is at play, I notice that we, as humans, tend to become all manner of fake, sneaky, passive aggressive, creepy, controlling, underhanded, plastic and worse.
Recently a friend asked a favour of me she was terrified to ask. She was in a conflict with a mutual friend and she asked me if I’d be willing to commit to not vetting any letters this friend might want to send her way. She wanted me not to get involved in between. I was happy to agree to that as I knew this other friend had plenty of other people who would be happy to read whatever letters she might send and to give feedback on them.
My friend broke down into tears. She had been so scared to ask me. She felt it was wrong. When I said ‘yes’ so easily, some switch flipped in her.
What if there was nothing wrong with asking for what you want?
What if there was nothing wrong with expressing your desires?
What if there was nothing wrong with sharing what you have?
What if it was just a matter of learning how to do so skillfully?
What if it actually felt better to be direct in some matters than indirect?
What if we’re all craving candour and directness?
What if marketing was just saying, “I’m a needy human like you. I have needs. You have needs. Here’s what I’d like to offer you in exchange for your money. Does this feel fair?“
What if the reason it feels ‘off’ is because we’re ashamed of doing it not because it’s inherently shameful to do it?
What if marketing could feel good? What if marketing wasn’t about getting anyone to say ‘yes’ but about having a human conversation about whether or not it was a fit? What if this was true about dating too? What if our attention was more focused on the truth of the moment than our goal of what we think we want? What would marketing look like without shame? What would it look like if we felt no need to hide what we were doing?
What if marketing felt bad not because it was shameful but because we were ashamed of it.