The other day I heard a CEO friend talk about an event she went to and the speaker, a top exec at tinder, mentioned how they used some gorilla marketing tactics to grow their app user base. She was so excited and I couldn’t wait to hear this brilliant tactic.

So to grow their user base they decided to go to a college and get college kids signed up. Okay, so go where the people are, right? Sure, makes sense if this is your user demographic.

So what did they do? Well, the first thing they did was get names of the professors and tell the kids the professors were on the app. So I guess if your app is about dating and you like gossip and want to see your professors in compromising or embarrassing situations, then this is a great strategy. As a twenty-something, this probably did get a big user sign up, but the question must be asked… when they found out the professor was not on the app, did they feel cheated and never use the app or were they able to laugh at their gullibility and start swiping the local guys and girls in their community? Was the opportunity to get laid or find friends worth overlooking to manipulation that got them signed up on the app in the first place?

Does manipulation in marketing build client loyalty

So there are many ideas about manipulation. Things like coupons, discounts, limited time offers, rebates, buy 1 get 1 free, and the list goes on and on. As someone that has been in the marketing space for nearly 25 years, I have seen a lot and probably even practiced some of these “manipulations”.

As I am working on my own WHY I am rereading Simon Sinek’s book Start With WHY.

One of the big premises in the book is that manipulations do not build loyalty and customers will likely jump ship if they get another offer or opportunity for the next best thing.


So if this is true, the question must be asked… “Is getting a one time customer or an unloyal customer worth it?” and “If these customers get another offer, will they dump you at the drop of the hat?”.

At the Business Success Movement, our goal is helping business owners reap long-term success. To me, this means defining the difference between manipulation and inspiration. You see manipulation works, but I do not see it as long-term and sustainable growth. Take the car industry… GM was giving $500 to $10K rebates on the purchases of their vehicles for nearly a decade. When they realized they were severally cutting into their profits they started shrinking the rebates and then tried to stop them. What they found was they actually created rebate junkies. Once the rebates were off the table the buyers went someplace else. These gimmicks are like heroin to the users and they get hooked quickly. But the problem is once they get their fix, they start searching for their next high and they are not concerned with who the dealer is. Because of this, Toyota actually surpassed GM sales.

Now you must ask yourself, is the marketing strategy we are using inspiring our customers to buy and join our movement or is it something that is manipulating them to buy and only a temporary fix? You must also think about the sustainability factor. Can you sustain this type of program? Does it hurt profitability? Will this program build loyal customers? If the answer leads you to a yes, our marketing is built on manipulations, I would suggest finding a new way to inspire your customers to buy because they believe what you believe. Think of Harley Davidson or Apple. How can you create a fan base and culture like that?

This is a topic for another article, but you should start thinking about it today so you can get in the right mindset and I might suggest you read Simon Sinek’s book Start With WHY.


Or if you would like you can CLICK HERE TO JOIN the Business Success Movement facebook group where we are currently reading this book and reviewing it together on Live Video Calls to discuss chapters, ideas, and thoughts

Oh, by the way, we are discussing Part 2 (chapters 3, 4, and 5) today if you can join us, please do. Just join the facebook group for the login details and we will see ya on the inside.

Photo by William Brawley