Act Like A Marketer, Think Like A Sociologist

Published on March 15, 2021

How to get inside the mind of a client? What are they feeling, how will they react to your plans for their campaign? Can you even, perhaps, influence their decisions to guide them towards taking the right steps for their business?

What if I told you there was a way to “hack” into your clients’ thinking patterns and desires in a way that would not only help their campaign but would also increase your status as a marketer? Well, there is! Using some not-so-basic rhetorical skills and logically assessing the situation and needs of the client, you can guide your clients’ thoughts and ultimately help them help themselves. The trick is using a little sociology.

While psychology studies how people think, sociology studies how people communicate. Through the strategies I’m going to relay, you’ll learn how to communicate in a way that will tell the client what they want to hear AND get them to agree to what you need them to do.

Of course, this is not manipulation. It’s tailoring your communication skills to effectively make the client act in their best interest. Whether you’re the head of a big agency or a one man marketing force going at this all on your own, your advice is sound; you just need to convince your client of that. These tactics will pay off when your campaign is successful and you start getting the traffic, conversions, and engagement your client expects.

It’s time to put aside being a marketer and start thinking like a sociologist. Here’s how:

Make your ideas your client’s ideas.

After some in-depth research, a professional marketer will likely know what a client needs better than the client does. However, knowing what they need and getting them to agree isn’t always as easy as you’d hope. You’d be surprised how many clients pay top dollar for professional advice that they’ll end up fighting tooth and nail to ignore.

Inception isn’t just a popular movie; it’s a valid and effective technique for getting clients to agree to services they need but don’t understand. Much like Leonardo DiCaprio entering people’s dreams to seed thoughts into their heads, you can plant certain ideas into your clients’ brains without bluntly stating what you want them to do. We’re all less likely to be resistant to an idea that (or, at least, that we think) we came up with. 

There are a multitude of ways to bait someone into having the idea that you want them to have. Let’s say that you know an updated design would significantly increase the value of their website, but a web designer costs money. And they hate spending money. Instead of trying to convince them to shell out for what you know they need, try playing into their ego and desire for high status among their competition. 

Say something like “I was doing a competitive analysis for your business. These are what your competitors’ websites look like. Is this along the lines of what you were thinking? We could try to make this happen, but we might have to reconfigure our plan.”

And then the client will respond with jealousy and either be willing to pay more or reprioritize their budget to pay for an updated website.

Offer exclusivity.

An almost guaranteed way to seal any client deal is to offer something that other clients aren’t getting. Clients are, after all, customers, and can be trusted to reliably fall into typical customer patterns. In this case, that pattern is a longing for exclusivity. Over 90% of customers say they would take advantage of an exclusive offer. This is less about what’s being offered and more about FOMO—the fear of missing out.

The thinking goes like this: “Well, if they’re giving X away then it must be rare! I’d better make sure I get it before it’s all gone.” This is called the scarcity principle, and it’s a reliable method of persuasion for convincing nearly any customer.

Human beings want to be in the loop; it’s the reason why we all have multiple streaming apps despite the fact that HBO Max and Netflix on their own have more than enough content to fill our time. But one has a show that the other doesn’t have. As a marketer, you won’t be offering your clients exclusive products, but rather access and services that other clients aren’t getting—or, maybe they are! Your current client doesn’t need to know the details of your other relationships. Much like the nice person at the office who gives the same compliment to everyone, your “exclusive offer” can easily be something that you provide frequently.

But what if you could set things up in a way that didn’t require you to give any free perks or services away but could still offer the exclusivity customers desire? You can, when the exclusive “product” is you.

Ultimately, all clients intrinsically want the same thing: they want to be the top dog. They have egos. They want to be the “it” person in their industry, the thought-leader. If you’re able to grant them status, they’ll buy whatever you’re selling. To do this, you’ll need to learn what kind of client you can service well and get results for. If you’re a success, the people you want to connect with in turn want to connect with you.

Michael Port calls this the “red velvet rope policy” in his book Book Yourself Solid. Here, access to your services is the exclusive item, because you’ve become so in-demand that you can pick and choose what kind of people you want to work with.

Keep on top of trends.

Being in the know is an essential tool. You lose credibility by telling clients about trends or topics that they’ve already heard of. From their perspective, if you’re not offering them anything new, then what are they paying you for?

I actually have employees that keep tabs on emerging trends in the industries of my clients so that we can constantly keep their social media and blog content relevant. As for me, I keep up with the latest marketing trends by constantly testing out new apps, reading the marketing trades and following bloggers who talk about emerging technology, and always adding to my network of fellow marketers based all around the world, so I can keep up to date on global trends and not just what’s happening in my little corner of the world.

Staying on top of new trends is just one of the many things I do to position myself as a marketing expert. When you gain the status of being an expert in your field, the work of bringing on clients decreases. Now that you’re a known entity, they’ll come to you. They’ll be enthused to work with you because of your reputation. And they’re more open to your ideas because of your standing and track record of success. There are a lot of ways to up your social standing and become an expert; such as getting published, gaining a reputation for doing good research, and making sure clients know to use your name when talking to their friends. 

You want to have authority. Even though there’s nothing written in stone that says you’re the best, you have the power to make people think you are. In short, you want clout, and the best way to get it is to position yourself as an authority in your field and never fail to back yourself up. All of this will come down to playing off “first impression bias” and customers’ willingness to believe the first source they read about about any given information.

Project the image of a professional.

Marketing is the crossroads of sales and creativity. And if you want to make it as a marketer, you need to project the confidence to sell your creative ideas. In your head, you know that you have the talent and the skill to pull off anything that a client will agree to, but not every client is going to recognize your genius without a little massaging.

We all want to walk next to the Neil Patels of the world, but the reality is that very few of us ever will. And that’s ok! Too often, fame is confused with success and influence, a mindset that will only lead to bitter disappointment. If you can project the confidence of a marketer who knows their stuff and you’re good at what you do, the clients you seek will eventually come within your grasp.

Now, being confident does not mean feeling secure in BS-ing your way through every client meeting. Quite the contrary—the confidence you project is usually in direct proportion to how much homework you’ve done. Do a lot of talking and showcase your experience. When you’re mapping out ideas for a meeting, also plan the best way that you can present them to the client. You have total control over your words, so choose them carefully. And when it’s the client’s turn to talk, listen intently. 

And, of course, clients will need proof of success as well. So show them. Flaunt your metrics such as the high engagement rate on your content, the repeated and devout customer base you’ve cultivated, and the high number of clicks that make it over the line and become conversions.

A successful marketer will understand that every moment is an opportunity. A meeting a week from now is an opportunity to devise an unbreakable strategy. When the client is speaking, it’s an opportunity to gather intel. Sociology is the study of how human beings communicate. And in this industry, if you communicate like a successful marketer, the sooner you will become one.

Christopher Tompkins is the co-founder, head strategist, and CEO of The Go! Agency. Christopher previously worked at marketing firms in the UK, South Africa, China, and the U.S. and his unique international experience has enabled him to work with customers from around the globe. His background in improv comedy enables him to think on his feet, and his competitive nature drives him to exceed client expectations. A fundamental believer in online marketing education, Christopher regularly speaks at national and international conferences (including past engagements in London, Brussels, Orlando, New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Tampa). His passion for education led him to authoring several articles, essays, and books about online marketing and social media.

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