Dark Marketing- Everything you want to know ( with 3 steps to use Now)

Dark Marketing- Everything you want to know ( with 3 steps to use Now)

What is Dark Marketing

For centuries Marketers have secretly guarded the techniques to persuade customers to make decisions that best suited their profits. But now with the Internet creating an extremely open and level playing field, times are changing. The factor of Trust and Transparency will be the single most driving force behind the customer’s decision to choose a product/ service thus unleashing the real power of Dark Marketing in this era.

In this post, you will know

  1. What is Dark Marketing?
  2. Is Dark Marketing bad?
  3. Is Dark Marketing a new phenomenon?
  4. What are the critical steps of Dark Marketing?
  5. Why is Dark Marketing important Now?
  6. How can you leverage Dark Marketing to influence customers?
  7. What are some examples of Dark Marketing?


Marketing is a beautiful field, beautiful because it keeps evolving at such a pace, that it is impossible for anyone to keep track of every new tactic being thought of and executed. For years there was no need to monitor and note every tactic because the fundamentals rarely changed. However, that’s not the case now. A fundamental shift is happening and marketers need to prepare themselves for it.

The Death of TV-Industrial complex

In the 100+ years of the TV-Industrial complex ( Seth Godin coined this and helped create a new worldview for the marketer’s), the fundamentals of Marketing remained unchanged. The process was a bit complex but fairly clearly laid out. Simply put — Make a creative and then distribute distribute distribute. It was like the map existed, just follow the lines on the map to the T and you will get the results ( more or less).

Now the Map doesnot exists. You have to create the map but very few know how to create the map because we have created a generation of marketers who can follow the map.

Till now money moved towards people who knew the science of distribution and bombarded the customer with their endless ( and often meaningless ) marketing message. The concealed (dark) aspect of marketing in which the desires and wants of customers were researched and debated to reach an Insight was kept hidden. Few people had accessed to these insights which led to a creative and then whether that insight was the best or not; the distribution solved the problem. Distribution became the white ( visible ) part of marketing thus creating an industry in itself where marketers focused on chasing the distribution game.

Digital changed everything. Almost

However, with digital, this is changing, and the change is enormous. As distribution became democratic with Google ads ( Digital marketing), the low IQ people shifted towards looking at numbers and adjusting the bids to get maximum distribution worth from the penny, people with higher IQ and sensitivities are becoming more scarce thus generating a new demand for a different breed of marketers.

That’s what the Dark Marketing is- something which has always been there but never got the limelight it deserved. Let’s look at key questions on Dark Marketing.

  1. What is Dark Marketing?

The act of changing the perception of a customer towards a particular product/service in a covert way that it matches the worldview of the audience in order to deliver the result without directly revealing the intention to the customer. Dark Marketing collects information from multiple data source, collates them to create a specific story, and then by applying the science of persuasion, executes it to deliver the desired result- everything is done covertly. Fundamentally Dark Marketing changes the belief set of an audience to something new without them realizing that their behavior is changed.

2. Is Dark Marketing bad?

No. This is what the most common misconception among marketers today exists. Dark Marketing is not bad. For years it was secretive, just that now it sees the limelight.

3. Is Dark Marketing a new phenomenon? Any historical example?

Absolutely No. Dark Marketing is practiced for ages, since the history of mankind. Of the many brilliant examples of Dark Marketing, one of the most brilliant cases is the act of Fredrick the great of 18th Century. He wanted his constituency men to eat potatoes, but no one wanted to eat it cause potatoes looked terrible, tasted bland. Fredrick the great changed the perception by declaring the potatoes as the royal food. Once declared the royal food, he kept guards to safeguard the crop of potatoes with instruction to let people steal. The perceived value of potatoes increased thus increasing the price and demand for potatoes.

4. What are the critical steps of Dark Marketing?

Dark Marketing is divided into three essential parts

  1. Understanding the current worldview of customer segments and defining the new worldview for them.
  2. Devising specific strategies and tactics to change their worldview by using extensive data to craft targeted communication.
  3. Monitoring the result and pivoting it further to create a cult-like following.

5. Why is Dark Marketing important Now?

The market forces are fundamentally changing the whole narrative of how the marketing is done. With influencers and word of mouth taking precedence over loud marketing efforts, getting the customer’s group to buy your worldview is now more important than getting one sale. The top trends which make dark marketing reveal itself are:

  • Attention span:
  1. We now have an attention span which is less than 3 second ( Lower than a goldfish attention span of 7 seconds)
  2. Personalisation: We can now ( with Digital mediums) send personalized and specific information to customers at the moments when they are most likely to take a decision. Say for example you have just booked a flight ticket to the United States for 21 January 2019. Google, FB, etc. can use this information and allow a specific Hotel say, Hilton, to target you with specific offers on these dates.
  3. Psychometrics and Segmentation: For years, marketers have been doing segmentation basis, age, gender, location. But with the tenants of Dark Marketing, this scales to never before level. The Cambridge analytica case wherein they deployed OCEAN to help Donal trump win the election. In the 1980s, a team of psychologist developed a model that aimed to assess human beings on 5 specific personality traits. These 5 personality traits, also known as the “Big Five” included Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and neuroticism- popularly discussed as OCEAN. The problem with these was about collecting the information about this because it required an extensive qualitative questionnaire to be filled by a customer, which was not only cumbersome but highly time draining. But with Internet & Facebook collecting these data became very easy and quantitative.
  • Openness (how open you are to new experiences?),
  • Conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?),
  • Extroversion (how sociable are you?),
  • Agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and
  • Neuroticism (are you easily upset?).

If one knows the data points here, it is easy to make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us. This includes their needs and fears, and how they are likely to behave. The “Big Five” has become the standard technique of psychometrics.

6. How can you leverage Dark Marketing to influence customers? 3 Steps to use Now.

With the objective to change the worldview of the customers — following are the 3 steps you can take now to apply the principles of dark marketing to influence your customers.

  1. Define the core audience for your product and the current worldview regarding your service/ product.
  2. Define in words the new worldview which is most conducive to your business growth.
  3. Map a path with a timeline on how you can apply the 6 rules of persuasion to reach from stage A to stage B.

One can create the path using the tools of Dark Marketing by applying the 6 rules of persuasion.

  • Reciprocity.
  • Commitment & Consistency.
  • Social Proof.
  • Liking.
  • Authority.
  • Scarcity.

7. What are some examples of Dark Marketing?

There are many examples of Dark Marketing, and it happens every day around us. Take for instance today, we believe that one should not waste time shopping for products at a Mall, but save time by just buying it from Amazon. We believe that we cannot live without the iPhone in our hand and cannot leave the house without it. Today, we as humans feel little unease in sharing every information of our location with Google, for the perceived safety. We have just traded our behavior from one way to another with for the perceived notion of betterment.

The time has come when the powers of Dark Marketers will be unleashed and a new era of marketing will begin. All for the betterment of everyone. ( Hope so )

Read more such stories at www.thedarkmarketer.com

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