ETHICAL MARKETING: PERSUASION vs MANIPULATION
Marketing can be difficult for many business owners, and massage therapists are no different. Most therapists who struggle to market themselves are worried about coming across as salesy or desperate, and that’s perfectly understandable. But I’ve got news for you; asking someone to make an appointment, to rebook, or maybe refer a friend, none of that is salesy or desperate. You run a business!
If you’re not selling, you don’t have a business, you have an expensive hobby.
So you can look at selling or marketing as nothing more than trying to persuade someone to book an appointment or buy a product. And here’s where we want to make sure we’re staying ethical with our marketing practices. Persuasion is a normal part of selling. There is absolutely nothing unethical about it. When I say persuasion, I’m referencing the idea of simply convincing someone to do something they already kind of want to do – they just need that extra little nudge or reminder to push them to action. And in no way, do they regret that decision afterward.
What comes off as “salesy” or “desperate” is manipulation. Manipulation in marketing is when you’re trying to use guilt or fear to convince someone to buy something they don’t really want, and, more than likely, will regret the purchase later.
There is a fine line between persuasion and manipulation, but the primary difference between the two is simple…your intent. If you’re speaking with a client and you know they love your massages, then there’s no reason to hesitate to ask them to rebook. You’re not trying to ambush them or make them feel guilty for not coming back. Simply remind them you’re your schedule is filling up, or they get a small discount if they rebook before they leave.
Think of the worst salesman you’ve come across. I know mine is very stereotypical – a used car salesman. And I worked for the dealership at the time, so I wasn’t even the victim of it. He used every tactic of guilt and fear to convince a young couple with 3 kids, who were on a very limited budget, to buy a car that was almost double what they could reasonably afford. It was infuriating. *side note – I quit that day*
Now think about a time when someone convinced you to buy something that you were on the fence about. Maybe you weren’t sure if you really needed it, or you usually don’t buy things for yourself…whatever the case was, what was it about that person and the way they spoke to you that convinced you to buy? I bet you never even questioned their motives. Or if you did, you didn’t mind if they got a big commission or some brownie points with the boss because you genuinely liked them and what they were offering.
So next time you are getting ready to put out an ad, ask a client to rebook, start a referral program, or go to a promotional event – think about your intent in every interaction. As long as your intent is honorable and truly in the best interest of the client, then go for it.
Sell with integrity and you’ll reap the benefits.
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