Reverse psychology marketing won’t work for you, so you can just fuhgeddaboudit.
Do you get the feeling that you’re being bombarded with messages that are telling you to do one thing, but suggesting you do another?
Like a cat, who flounces her tail in typical cat-mode as she slinks away, as if to say, Don’t even bother trying to pet me, when you know she’s dying for a tummy rub.
This is reverse psychology marketing, when you desire something simply because it’s being touted as unavailable, unwelcome, or undesirable.
In an age where people are tired of having marketing spiels thrown in their faces, taking this back alley approach becomes more effective than traditional methods. The success of this strategy relies on having customers come to you, rather than you chasing after them.
Are You Special Enough?
Take Tom Sawyer, for example. He had his buddies begging to take over his fence painting job. The tedious task of whitewashing his aunt’s fence became appealing by doing two things. He appeared to enjoy it, and he acted as if it was a special privilege.
Cats have this down to a science. They behave as if they enjoy snubbing you, and when you finally chase them down, you’d think they bestowed you with the honor of petting royalty.
As Mark Twain wrote, Tom “had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.”
This play into our innate desire to be included, to be in-the-know, leads people to drop their defenses and crave the suddenly indispensable object they never knew they desired. Reverse psychology hits home with the unsuspecting, resistant, and contrary individual – in other words, all of us at some time or another.
It’s All Over for Paper
One of the best reverse psychology marketing strategies is Domtar’s “Paper Because.” Office Guy #1 hands a thick paper report, “The Paperless Office,” to Office Guy #2, telling him it’s all over for paper. They quickly decide to make a copy, and another copy.
“Paper is dead,” after all, yet they remind you that “paper is sustainable, renewable, and recyclable.” Make me a copy too, while you’re at it.
Seth Godin’s Knock Knock book wasn’t free at one time, and the reverse psychology he employed to prompt sales and awareness of it before it became free came with the simple email, “Please don’t buy my new ebook.”
It’s hard not to love a guy who’s so straightforward and honest (and even encouraging you to donate to Red Cross while you’re checking out the free PDF file he’s so generously shared).
Don’t Push the Button!
The trick is not to appear manipulative. If your audience gets a whiff of this, then reverse reverse psychology will come into play, and they will do what you were asking them not to do, like not buy the book, or not push the button.
A cat can get away with this because she knows reverse reverse psychology means you don’t get to pet her highness. This is simply not an option.
Don’t pet the cat. I dare you to not pet the cat.