Skip to content

Marketers Manipulate Behavior and This Is Why You Should Too

There’s a common saying in marketing circles that “You’re only responsible for what you put out, not what people take away.”

I’ve even preached it as an inevitability of being in the Arena. People will skim and miss your point. People will love you a LOT or hate you a LOT (both of which have nothing to do with you).

We’ve all conceded at some point that you cannot control what people do once you put something “out there.”

For marketers, however, we actually can.

It is our job to control what people do when we put something “out there.” 

It’s why we know all the tricks that you call “manipulation” (and we call “persuasion”): in order to effect a very specific outcome.

We know things like:

  • No one reads body copy. They read headlines and photo captions.
  • Pictures of faces keep our attention.
  • Clear converts better than “clever” or “cute” language.
  • CTA Buttons work best when they’re bright and easy to spot.

We also know if I add another bullet up there, you won’t read it.

And if I break the Left Margin, I get your attention.

Image for sup girl How I Met Your Mother gif


We take FULL responsibility for the impact our work has on others. We have to. We are measured by our outcomes. If our ad doesn’t pull, we don’t get paid.

And this isn’t just true for marketing.

Imagine if a teacher said, “It’s not my fault he didn’t learn math. I was very clear. I can’t be responsible for what he got out of class today.”

Sounds ridiculous.

It doesn’t matter if you think you were clear, it matters that they understood

You know if you are understood by the action someone takes, whether that is buying your product, clicking on an ad, or responding appropriately to an argument.

The most important thing about what you put out is how it influences others. 

“I can’t help what she hears.”
“But it’s on the website!”
“We already tried that…It didn’t work.”
“I can’t help that he doesn’t understand.”

Yes, you can. Try again. Try a different way.

That is your job.