For many the first word, manipulation, has negative connotations attached, but the second word, inspiration, has a distinctive positive ring. Even so, manipulation is commonly applied to achieve goals, while reaching the same ends using inspiration is something that only seems to be within the capabilities of the few. You might use manipulation to try to get prospects to buy your product or service. Manipulation does work in the short term. Inspiration, however, becomes more important if you want to establish long-term relationships with your prospects or customers. So what is the difference between the two?
While manipulation sounds like a negative action, most of us do it every day. Likewise, most of us are influenced in our daily actions and thoughts by external sources, although be it subconsciously. Apparently this trait is an inherent part of our human decision-making process. What is more, manipulation can be positive. Many businesses use positive manipulation to influence customers. In his best-seller “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” psychology and marketing expert, Robert Cialdini, explains how this is done by applying one or more of the six key principles of persuasion.
Here is a reminder of the six.
Reciprocity – When you do something for someone else, they will be likely to want to return the favor.
Commitment and consistency – Once a person has committed to an action, they are more likely follow through and honor the commitment.
Social proof – People like to feel as if they belong, so they will copy the behavior of others whose approval they seek.
Authority – People tend to follow figures of authority.
Liking – People will trust you more if they like you.
Scarcity – When something is scarce, the demand for it increases. Giving limited offers or indicating stock is low can help potential customers to make a buying decision.
Manipulation can be very effective, but these methods only work on a short-term basis.
Because manipulation, or influencing (the preferred term nowadays), only works in the short term, you also need to think about long-term customer engagement. How can you inspire your customers to commit to your business for years to come? Ask yourself what your business stands for. What goals are you trying to achieve with your business? Of course you want to make money, but in a successful business making money is a consequence, not a goal. In “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” author and marketing consultant, Simon Sinek, puts forward his vision on success through inspiration. In his opinion, the questions that business owners should be asking are the following: “Why does your organization exist? Why does it do the things it does? Why do customers really buy from one company or another?”
As a business owners it is important to know why your customers are yours or why someone chose your business as a place of work. That is the difference between manipulation and inspiration. Once you know the answers to those question, you will have discovered what it is about your business that is unique and that attracts people to you. Businesses that communicate their beliefs and goals are more successful in forging long-term relationships with customers.
Finally, how can you make sure that your target audience reads your message and acts on it? Tell them why you do what you do before you tell them what you do and how you do it. Let them know why your business is different and make it personal. Inspire people with your story. Inspiration is so much more powerful than manipulation. If you can understand that and implement it in the way you market your business, there is no limit to the heights you can reach.