This is a marketing post on how to apply the human vulnerabilities known famously as the seven cardinal sins to attract more customers to your business.
This is an excellent guide for small business owners and SME investors and managers to tempt and entice the customers based on 7 common and well know human frailties.
I have had serious reservations about writing this post for my blog. I have been grappling with the moral dilemma as to whether I should write this post on my blog. I was afraid that I would disappoint my lovely and well balanced children (all of whom, I am extremely proud of), that I am engaged in enticing others to commit sins.
However, upon serious and due reflection, I have reconciled in my own mind and I am satisfied that I have an obligation to the young marketers and sales folks, many of whom I know and work with who might not be aware of this. I am extremely proud that marketers all over the globe enable and generate billions of dollars of value creation, which in turn creates new opportunities and jobs for millions. In this context, I write this post with a clear conscience.
So what are the seven deadly sins?
No, I am not suggesting that you do anything illegal or ask anybody else to do anything illegal. Most of you have perhaps known or heard about the 7 deadly sins also known as the “cardinal sins” or the “capital vices”. These 7 deadly sins have evolved over a period of time and have been translated from Greek to Latin and the modern marketing version as I know them today are :
- Extravagance (and greed)
As you develop the value proposition for your customers or even if you are in sales, keep the 7 deadly sins in mind. Almost all mere mortals succumb to these seven sins. Take advantage of the human frailties’ and temptations. Check if your value propositions give your customers the opportunity to succumb and be tempted to commit these sins.
Extravagance is the luxury of the poor, penury is the luxury of the rich – Oscar Wilde
Three great forces rules the world: stupidity, fear and greed – Albert Einstein
Extravagance and greed are unrestrained excess. All marketers of any industry will pay heed to entice their customers to be extravagant. In whatever industry or business you are in, it always pays to entice your customers to spend more, to buy that extra something that they will not use or fully use, treat their loved ones to a special gift of extravagance. Check and recheck if your value propositions offer the opportunity for your customers to feel that they are being extravagant and that it is worth it. Ensuring that customers are extravagant in a value proposition ensures that the customers will buy something that they don’t necessarily need immediately, buy more than what they need, pay more than what they intended and so on.
Extravagance and greed is also often thought to apply to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status and power.
I am sure most of you have had exclusive invitations from credit card companies, airlines and other providers that seem to imply that you have a special status.
Most luxury goods marketers thrive at bringing the greed in all of us! Do we really need that $5,000 handbag? It is the divine duty of all marketers to poach you away from alternative propositions from the competition; therefore, betrayal for personal gain can also be considered greed.
As greed and extravagance are inordinate desires to acquire or possess more than what you need or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth, this is an easy one for marketers. Communicating subtle or direct aspirational messages often brings the best of greed in all of us. So the next time you see that credit card company messages or the designer goods ad or the cell phone manufacturers’ touting you to be cool with something new which you already have, remember, they are all imploring your sense of greed and extravagance!
Gluttony is not a secret vice – Orson Welles
If you are in the food or hospitality industry, this is an easy sin to tempt your customers with J
We all know gluttons, but they do not necessarily have to be just overindulging or over consuming food to be gluttonous. You can consume anything to a point of waste to be a glutton.
Do you really need that iPhone when you already have a Blackberry? How often can you use both? Isn’t it just a waste? Offering a fixed price buffet lunch is surely tempting the glutton in all of us. How about the wonderful buckets of minutes that your telecom provider offers? How about that 2 for 1 that your local supermarket or department store offers?
These are wonderful and great propositions from a marketer’s or a sales point of view as the incremental or marginal cost to offer the next or nth unit is marginal for the provider. If the actual cost it truly is marginal or the opportunity cost is too high not to offer it, it behooves the marketer or the sales team to tempt gluttony in designing and or crafting the value propositions so that customers can be tempted to be gluttonous.
It is a beggar’s pride that he is not a thief – Japanese proverb
In almost every list pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self.
So my dear fellow marketers and sales professionals, this is an easy one. I am sure some of you have excelled in making your customers feel inferior if they are using your competitors’ services and products, or conversely making them feel superior by using your “well designed” propositions J
Pride and vanity is taken advantage of in almost all industries. Marketers name their services like Platinum, Superior, Super, Exclusive, “you are special” and so forth.
If you are marketing or selling designer apparel or accessories, then this is a no brainer. However, tempting your customers or constituents to be proud can be applied to the hospitality industry, restaurants, consulting business, banking industry, politics, entertainment and almost all others.
Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes – Marquis De Sade
Is any sin easier to sell than lust? Not really I would imagine. My dear folks, have you seen “ugly” models in any communications that marketers put out? Even the ordinary testimonials from the supposedly ordinary people appear to be extra ordinary.
No I am not suggesting that you engage in vices attributable to the sex industry. Just think of it, almost all marketers seem to be selling lust. I often wonder if they take a second and think about what their true intentions are by the models or spokespersons that they select for their communications to their customers.
Some industries and companies take it to an extreme. Just take a moment and look at the airlines industry (in some countries), the hospitality and restaurant industry (Hooters is a good exampleJ), the entertainment and fashion industry and others. These folks seem to have mastered the art of marketing and selling lust more than others. Take a moment and wonder how many of the models look like ordinary mortals!
And wrath has left its scar – that fire of hell
Wrath also known as anger or “rage” may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred. Anger, in its purest form, presents with hate that may provoke antagonistic feelings to someone.
This is one of two sins that I personally am comfortable in tempting my customers to commit. Imagine how easy this is, if I can get my customers wrath on to my competitors. How do I do that? Make the customer realize that I have a better deal, that I offer a better customer experience and that considering others is not a choice for the customer. Irk your customer’s ire and wrath on to your competitors’ offerings.
Marketers and sales folks should remind their customers what you are offering, that your competitor is not offering or is unable to do. This is called differentiating yourself in the market. Make the customer feel mad that his or her existing service provider or seller is not doing what your company is able to do.
Conversely, remember that it is good business sense not to irk your customers’ wrath on to yourselves.
We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty – Marcus Fabius Quintillan
Sloth is considered more a sin of omission rather than commission. We all have been lazy one time or other. In this digital and Internet age, we have a tremendous opportunity to make our customers lazy.
This is the other sin which I am happy to tempt my customers with. Taking away customer difficulties are called offering conveniences those that customers appreciate. Saving customers time and money by tempting them with convenience makes good sense for the customer and your business. Any convenience that takes away customer difficulties makes obvious sense. It also makes good business sense for us marketers and sales folks as it can often mean more sales, less costs and more profits.
Envy aims very high – Ovid
Those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it.
So what does this mean for marketers and sales folks? Well, get your competitors customers to feel envious of your customers. Let them join you in droves after realizing the poor deal or the poor service or faulty proposition that they have been sold to. Spend your money making your customers aware of what they are missing or what they must have like their fellow beings.
Let your potential customers know that they don’t have to be envious but that the proposition, product or service is available to them easily, affordably and conveniently through you.
But beware; do not let your existing customers who have committed long term to you feel envious of your competitors’ customers. Imagine a customer signing a 60 months car lease or someone who has signed on as customer for an n number of months with penalty provisions for early cancellation.
If you do, please be assured that it is not only envy that you will elicit from this customer. You will also bear his or her full wrath. Hell hath no fury like a customer scorned!
Entice and expurgate, otherwise you will be effaced
So if you are ebullient and enthused about getting more business and elating your customers, always keep in mind the seven deadly sins of mortals.
Thou shall thus entice, espouse, exhort, elucidate, enlighten, and enthrall your customers with your effulgent propositions keeping the seven deadly sins in your mind. Remember to expurgate the negative aspects of your proposition. If not, your competitor might efface you!
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