Mar 19

Manipulation for Profit?

Copywriting is more than putting words on paper. It’s really reaching someone with the written word – so much so that they want to do what you suggest. So naturally it involves a basic knowledge of human motivators and using those motivators to elicit a response. If copywriters aren’t careful, this can become manipulation – something we at J Allan Studios do not condone.

Unfortunately, there are marketers out there who have no problem manipulating people, and in fact are quite proud of doing so. To whit: in a recent Target Marketing magazine article about using emotional drivers to improve response, the author recounted how Bob Hacker of The Hacker Group told him direct marketers are really psychologists whose job it is to manipulate readers into responding – without getting caught.

For us, the “without getting caught” part screams foul. We may be marketers, but we’re also consumers. And as consumers, we don’t want to be manipulated. Sure, we want to be informed of products or services we might want or need, and even enjoy being entertained in the process. But then leave us to make a decision; don’t play mind games or grossly exaggerate just for the sake of a sale.

Of course marketers need to make their offers attractive, but to go so far as to claim manipulation tactics? That’s sleazy. Mandy wrote as much on the article’s discussion board.

The article I got this link from (Dec. issue) says the copywriter’s job “is to manipulate readers into responding – preferably without getting caught in the act.” I have to say I don’t like this approach, don’t agree with it. If you’ve got a relevant, quality offer and are presenting information that readers want, there’s no manipulation involved. I am a copywriter, and never, EVER think of myself as a manipulator. I take on jobs that I believe in and do the best I can to get people to respond. But manipulating them into responding is never on my mind; providing value – to them and my client – is. I think of it this way: I am not just a marketer, but also a consumer. I do not want to be manipulated by anyone, so why would I take that approach to my work?