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Becomming an Elusive Object of Desire.

By Katie Barber, posted on October 31, 2018

My 32nd birthday has marked for me 10 years of working professionally in digital marketing. I’ve grown a lot in this time, and so has the industry. When I first started, digital marketing and social media was a job you stuck the most junior person on, and this is how I came to work in this space, just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Now it’s become a legitimate profession, and the great need for someone to manage social media and other digital marketing has created an influx of new people who are ready and willing to do the job. There are plenty of marketers who have as much experience as I do in the profession, and many have even more, but there are plenty who are just taking advantage of the fact that it is still a very understaffed industry. 

I feel like this has led to a lack of quality in marketing, particularly in social media. And this feeling has pushed me to really examine my thoughts on this, and wonder what I can do to stay ahead of the competition. I want to become a master of what I do, and I’m aware that in the next ten years, the medium of marketing is going to change greatly. I’ve definitely grown more in this last couple of years as a marketer than I ever have in my career. And I attribute this to going back to studying traditional marketing methods in depth. At its core, any kind of marketing is about persuasion and creating a desire in a customer and this is becoming a lost art. My studies have drawn me to become a huge fan of Robert Greene, the author of The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction, his work is very popular with salespeople and pick up artists alike, but there is certainly a lot of material that can be used in marketing, as marketing is, after all, a type of selling. 

Greene published a new book this week, entitled The Laws of Human Nature. I was very excited that he has written in depth about desirability and has critiqued current marketing, particularly social media marketing, as being obvious and weak. People are just blasting out a brand message over and over, hoping and even just expecting, that people will take an interest. 

There is too much focus in marketing on the platform. Social media, email, Facebook ads, these are only small details. Each campaign should have a focus on actual, real business growth, getting inside the heads of real customers and finding out how to appeal to them. Yes, some people struggle to use Facebook and LinkedIn, but basic training of how to use these platforms is not going to increase conversions, brand awareness and desirability without knowledge or talent about how to sell and persuade. 

I have written some notes and quotes that summarise Robert Greene’s chapter about stimulating desire. I hope you find it as useful as I have. You can buy the book here – click link to buy. 

The law of covetousness. 

“The problem we face today is not that people have suddenly stopped coveting, quite the opposite. But we are losing our connection to this art (of persuasion) and the power that goes with it. We see evidence of this in our culture. We live in an age of bombardment and saturation. Advertisers blanket us with their messages and brand presence, directing us here and there to click and buy.

… But they have no sense of how to spark our imagination about the future. … Subtlety is sacrificed and all of this has a hardening effect on our imaginations, which secretly crave something else.

More and more people have come to believe that people should simply desire them for who they are, this means revealing as much as they can about themselves, exposing all of their likes and dislikes and making themselves as familiar as possible. They leave no room for imagination or fantasy.

Increasingly self-absorbed, we find it harder than ever to get into the psychology of the other person, to imagine what they want from us, instead of what we want from them.

… Understand, people may point to all of this that humans are becoming more honest and open, human nature does not change within a few generations. People have become more honest and forthright, not out of some deep moral calling, but out of increasing self-absorption and overall laziness. It requires no effort to simply ‘be oneself’ or to ‘blast one’s message’. And the lack of effort simply results in a lack of effect on other peoples psychology. It means that peoples interest in you will be paper thin. Their attention will quickly move on and you will not see the reason for this. Do not swallow the easy moralism of the day which urges honesty at the expense of desirability.

Go in the opposite direction. With so few people out there who understand the art of desirability, it affords you endless opportunities to shine and exploit peoples repressed fantasies.”

Strategies for stimulating desire:

“You believe people should like and respect you for who you are. You believe what you produce should naturally excite people, after all, you spent a lot of effort on making it. But others see none of this, as another person you either entice curiosity, or indifference and even hostility.”

  • Know how and when to withdraw. Your presence should have a touch of coldness to it as if you could easily do without. Add to this a bit of blankness and ambiguity about who you are. Your values and tastes should never be too obvious. This gives people room to read into you how they want. Create an air of mystery, and attract interpretations. Physical withdrawing, being unavailable for days or weeks will create space for people to want to go after you, they will want more of you, not less. Creating ambiguous content that people have to work out themselves, or use their imagination for, will give people a sense of satisfaction. Think jokes that take a while to work out, or films that can be interpreted in several different ways. 
  • Create rivalries for attention. Put simply, we value attention more if we have to work to obtain it and we are attracted to things that other people want. This starts with our parents affection, sibling rivalry and continues throughout our lives. When we see things or people desired by other people, it creates a deep want in us. Learn how to show that you are desired by other people and that people have to compete for your attention. 
  • Increased visibility of our every movement, due to widespread social media usage has created a lot of restrictions on what we can do and say. Political correctness has always existed, but it has become stricter in the present day. Creating something transgressive can be very appealing. Greene uses the example of Coco Chanel and how she created products that were rebellious against gender roles. Using contrast against the stuffiness of previous generations can also work very well. Stimulate illicit desires in people like voyeurism, share secrets and present your work as new and unconventional. 
  • Life is full of limitations. Becoming rich and successful takes a tremendous amount of effort, we can’t spend all of our time exactly as we wish, every day we get older, we lose our physical health and beauty, and one day we face the inevitable limitation of death. We naturally desire to be free of these limitations, and so anything that promises us freedom from the mundane limitations we face will be greatly desired.