Should Marketing Be Illegal?

I can make you do what I want. Buy things. Vote a certain way. Feel better about my client. You won’t even think about it. You’ll just do it.

How will I do it? First, I’ll study you — learn your habits and interests, then I’ll put words and pictures and audio and video in places you’ll see them and interact with them. Pretty soon you’ll be buying what I am selling, because, like the rest of the world, you respond to something called marketing.

You’re probably thinking, “Shouldn’t that be illegal?” Well, marketing can’t make you rob a bank, or hypnotize you into becoming a spy for the enemy.  But marketing can be incredibly powerful — and it can produce extraordinary results for many good businesses and causes.

What is marketing?

Marketing is the process of delivering products and services to market. Of course, the seller is always looking to increase the amount of goods and services sold in the shortest amount of time and at a profit.

Marketing makes the process more efficient. Promotion of course, is a key component to marketing. But the best marketing campaigns also have several other important ingredients: branding, research, strong messages, loyalty efforts and repetition.

Branding and positioning

Use the Farris Five-Star Branding model to build a brand and position that will attract attention and create desire. The Five Star points are

  1. Name
  2. Descriptor
  3. tag line
  4. graphic image/logo,
  5. the customer experience.


Our best campaigns start with good research. You want to understand your current position in prospects’ minds —what your customers think and know about you and your competition, what offers they would respond to and what need exists already. Seeking to understand the prospective customer and fine-tuning service or even the product itself.

Strong message

The Message or Offer is the cornerstone of most marketing campaigns. But what to offer is a stumbling block. I tell clients — both businesses and non-profits — to remember first that what everyone wants is happiness. If they can’t have happiness, they want hope for happiness. Tune your message in that way and you will do well.

Building buying habits

Getting customers to come again and again is the real key to long-term success. That’s why loyalty and reward programs are so important. They help create buying habits that are hard to break.

Incentives, sales and coupons also build loyalty and create buying habits. When Kohl’s runs a 20% off coupon, they often do it while they have lots of products on sale. Customers are thrilled — they think “Wow, I’m saving twice!”

Of course the “double discount” was calculated in advance. And the next time a coupon from Kohl’s shows up, customers respond by buying more. Usually more than they had planned. Not enough to bankrupt them, but maybe enough to get them to spend more with Kohl’s and less at Target or another competitor.

Repeat repeat repeat

In the clutter of our day we are bombarded with messages. Even if you have a great message, that message must be repeated often. You’ll get sick of your ad much faster than the viewer/reader will.

Repeat your message within the TV or radio spot, newspaper ad, etc. And repeat the ad itself. It works. If you don’t repeat it, it won’t work. Trust me — experience proves it.

Use the power

Yes, marketing is powerful. Use it ethically. Use it wisely. Use it for good causes. But use the power of marketing and you’ll move more of your products and services to market.

Photo Credit: ms.akr via Flickr

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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