What if you were asked to sell chewing gum in Singapore? Imagine you have access to all resources you need to advertise; still then would you be able to do the task? The writer has gone insane, you would say. It’s illegal to sell chewing gum in Singapore and hence the job is not possible. Even great marketers like Kotler or Keller wouldn’t be able to sell that, you would say.
But ever tried to ponder, how did a dictator like Adolf Hitler came to power in a democratic state like Germany? Democracy and dictatorship are opposites. They can’t go together. Hence dictatorship is illegal in a democracy and vice versa. From our last discussion on bubble gums, it’s impossible to sell an illegal commodity. If Kotler can’t do it and Hitler could; then was Hitler a better marketing genius than the former? The bigger question that lies here is, how did Hitler managed to turn this impossible into possible.
Well, we have an answer. Though Hitler was one of the evilest men on earth; he was also one of the best persuaders of men. It’s impossible that whole of German population was as brutal and merciless as him. Hence, the propaganda he followed must have been very strong; so as to persuade Germans that his policies were fair and necessary to adopt.
Hitler actually used his unbelievable skill to perceive the mood of others and his ability to use these observations to manipulate people for his own advantage. Today the marketing gurus call this as persuasive marketing. In very raw sense, it is the use of human psychology to develop techniques to sell products or services. Hitler used this technique very often to market his party, but his real persuasion started when he became a dictator. Let’s check on some of his tactics.
Call groups, not individuals
As per psychology, individuals are rational and thinking animals. But a huge group of individuals lack intellectual and emotional ability and can be easily persuaded. Hitler used this. Nazis always undertook mass events such as parades and religious rituals and avoided individual participation. He always saw Germans as one, and squeezed this united theme in them.
In his group meetings, Hitler always focussed his attention to very limited number of points. He never left his mantras, until and unless every individual in the crowd could repeat it all by himself. He knew in a huge group; the remembrance goes down as number of people increase. He never wanted his thoughts to flush away, wasted.
Satisfy the hidden crowd thirst
A gathering has a psychological need of getting provoked by their leader. To satisfy this need of the crowd, Hitler transported a sense of strength and power to his listeners. He used to shout loudly and move his arms violently to vigour the audience. He used to breath heavily and his face showed heavy sweat when he spoke. One of the poets compared his speech experience to a sexual satisfaction and coined the term “mass orgasm” to relate to his meetings.
Also, he used some strength words and images to grab the attention of the listeners. He associated these trigger words like fire and sword with Nazis to relate them with power and pride. In contrast, when he spoke about Jews, he used words that showed weakness and feeble nature.
Hitler laid traps as he spoke. He manipulated his statements in such a way that the audience was left out with only one option to a particular problem. This option maybe unethical but Hitler assured that everyone felt that this is the only possible solution. Nothing else can be done. I call these traps as misleading statements of either or.
The final push
Hitler made every German believe that he is superior than any other nationality in the world. Coupling it with the thought that rest all are very much inferior than Germans. They are a burden on mother earth and are consuming what is made for Germans by their God. Hence they must be eliminated. For instance, Hitler abolished cruel animal practices like testing drugs on them and replaced animals with Jews for the same purpose.
This is how Hitler gradually turned most of the Germans into cold blooded beings just like him. It was his extraordinary ability of orator ship and persuasiveness that inspired a weak nation like Germany to create devastation in rest of the world. Hitler could have used his gift for the benefit of society but instead he chose to use it to take millions of lives. In spite of all this, he retained German support till the end. His strategy is a pure example of persuasive marketing.
In today’s time, persuasive marketing involves use of psychological principles to control response of customers to external marketing forces. General people neither understand those responses nor the principles behind them. But clever marketers recognize and manipulate them to control customers’ responses. Best part is, customers didn’t even understand they are being manipulated.
For instance, from limited availability of goods it is perceived that the goods have higher value. Apple uses this. On the day of launch of ipads and iphones, Apple keeps a limited stock in their stores to create long queues and hence free marketing. This is the true power and charm of persuasive marketing. It’s an old sly weapon with new applications if utilized properly by marketers!