Because I run a marketing agency, friends who own companies regularly ask me how they should use whatever the latest technological fads are to get more business. Although I usually smile and respond politely, what I'd like to tell them is that they're asking the completely wrong question.  

Whether it was direct email marketing twenty years ago or Instagram platform building today, entrepreneurs can't seem to shake the idea that if they could only master the latest doohickey cooked up by Silicon Valley, all their cash flow problems would disappear.

That's like saying that figuring out how to swing a hammer will give you everything you need to build a mansion.

The reality is that without developing an understanding of the in-depth psychological drivers behind what makes human beings make the decisions they do, no tool will get your sales to where you want them to be.

Fortunately, these psychological principles are as old as humanity itself. And they can be learned...if you know where to look.

Face Reality

The best thing to do if you want to learn the psychology of persuasion is to study the dregs of society.

Con men are fantastic at getting people to take action in the midst of uncertainty. Propagandists get people to believe what was previously unthinkable. And when it comes to building a following, religious cult leaders can't be beat.

Deep within us, most of us know this to be true. Yet despite their successes, we look away from these sinister sources of wisdom when crafting our own go-to-market plans.

Why?

It's simple. Most of us see ourselves as good people. We don't want to take advantage of others and we don't want to misrepresent ourselves.

But what if there was a way to gain the persuasive abilities of our less ethical cousins, without losing ourselves in the process?

There is, but it requires a shift in mindset.

Separate the Practices From the Principles

Consider this.

The real reason the bad guys of the world are so good at getting people to do what they want them to is that they have a clearer perception of human motivation that the rest of us.

This is good news. It means you can co-opt these persuasion strategies from the best and apply them to draw attention to your meaningful products and movements.

People are more alike than they are different. They react in the same ways time and again when acted upon by similar stimuli. The specific content of these stimuli can be positive or they can be negative. It's up to you.

My recommendation to you is that you stop worrying so much about keeping up with the latest social media thingamabobs and instead dedicate yourself to learning timeless persuasion principles from history's greatest hype artists. If you're looking for a good place to start, drop me a line and I'd be happy to send you an email with some of my favorite books on the subject.