Let’s face it, no one likes to be manipulated. We feel foolish, tricked and a little resentful. However, when the tables are turned, many individuals and nonprofits find manipulative advertising to be a very powerful tool of persuasion. Why is that? Because it is extremely effective.

Here’s why:

  1. Sad faces of people in miserable conditions compel people to action through guilt. It doesn’t matter whether the face belongs to a child, an animal or an adult. When we see pain and suffering we are hardwired to help.
  2. Product placement beside the face of a celebrity or positioned with that person’s quote implies endorsement that may not be real. The consuming public doesn’t check it out, they just buy based on the manipulation.
  3. Conjuring up emotions (usually negative) to generate a positive response (usually donations) makes people feel good about themselves.

The problem with manipulation is that it only works once, maybe twice, before people catch on to the technique and the wallets slam shut. I know that when I’ve been manipulated, I am much more careful about my commitments the next time I am asked for support. As an organization, you don’t want to have to recruit new supporters or clients every time you want to sell something or raise money for a worthy cause. When you motivate them to engage with you without manipulation, you won’t have to constantly recruit.

Here’s how:

  1. Share the victories and the results you achieve. Let people know how money is spent when they make a donation. Show happy faces in better circumstances. Add testimonials. Show the power of their generosity. If you’re selling a product, show the real benefits, not a fabricated lifestyle upgrade that isn’t possible.
  2. Make your content personally relevant so individuals can see themselves interacting with your product, service or worthy cause. Help them to connect to the story of your mission. Get them excited about being part of something bigger than themselves.
  3. Remember that long-term supporters are your friends and to maintain that relationship, you must treat them accordingly. Think about the dynamics of your best personal relationships and transfer those behaviors to your organization. Treat your supporters like friends and they will reciprocate.

At InspireHUB, we feel so strongly about manipulation that “Thou Shalt Not Manipulate” is one of our core guiding principles. We take this very seriously and we hope your organization does too!


Topics: engagement, communications

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