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Marketing Like a Con Man

The confidence man is also known as a hustler, a shyster, a swindler or basically someone of ill-repute that looks to separate you from your money by trickery. While not very ethical in nature, they certainly have come up with some very creative schemes and hustling money. Of course we aren’t condoning any sort of unethical practices in business; however we do feel there is some merit in learning about marketing like a con-man because surprisingly the similarities of a scam can be eerily similar to proper marketing and sales strategy.

Are you curious? How can you not be? 

The American Hustle

What is it about movies like The Sting, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Grifters or American Hustle that audiences found so mesmerizing? Aside from great acting and scripts, the idea of the “long con” always seems to captivate the imagination as it plays out.

So let’s look at a con:

  • Preparation – You plan and strategize how this will all play out including lining up players and materials.
  • Approach – You make careful contact with the subject.
  • Wind-up – You make the subtle pitch that increasing interest and show the opportunity for lots of money.
  • Pay-off – You put your own skin in the game to convince the subject that this is real.
  • Climax – A trigger that shows urgency which gets the subject to commit.
  • Grab-n-go –Where the subject hands over his money and our anti-hero makes good his escape.

Surprisingly that is almost exactly the blueprint for a marketing and sales strategy funnel with a few different terms.

Classic Marketing and Sales Funnel

The five classic steps of the M&S Funnel are fairly straightforward:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Intent
  • Purchase

This is commonly covered in marketing and sales courses as a way to funnel prospective buyers to a purchase point. Other than preparation that list is fairly on-point for a long con. Really, when you think about it, what is a con-man other than a really good salesman? Aside from the lack of scruples or ethics that is…

The Con that isn’t a Con

So how can you benefit from the con-man mentality? The secret is not in forgetting about ethics, but instead focusing on the various solid sales methods and tactics a con-man (or woman) utilizes during the hustle oh so successfully.

  • Preparation – One area a con-artist excels is in researching a target extensively. In the movies they study a mark for week or months for a big score. They understand what motivates the target, emotions that drive them, what they are interested in and what they find important. These are all key aspects of sales! When you are considering selling a product start by thinking about who you want to market and sell to and think of them like a mark.
  • Approach – In the movies the approach is always by chance. You just happen to be at an event where a product a buyer who you are targeting is at that has nothing to do with sales. Maybe you slowly engage with them on a social media platform and carefully develop a rapport. Next ask that person for a favor which creates an odd bond between people.
  • Wind-up – Now if you have done proper preparation the wind-up is easier because you understand what inspires your target. From there it is just the matter of selling your product in a way that benefits their personal needs such as garnering a promotion or more power after buying or using the product. Of course before you make the pitch you need to make them feel special in some way or another. Make them feel important by doing something for them that they specifically want or need.
  • Pay-off – Here is where a con-artist goes off the rails but we will stay on them. Rather than pitching some fake data or claims to get the subject to close the deal we show actual testimonials and real returns.
  • Climax – Again, we stay on the rails and with our ethical angel on our shoulder at this stage. Rather than push a target with scare tactics you might offer price locks, incentive deals because of a time of year, or any other sort of sales promotions that is somewhat unique and not seen in other places.
  • Grab-n-go – Let’s just skip this step entirely! After you have a prospect that has become a sale with trust earned along the way the last thing you want to do is go…instead you need to grow that connection.

Marketing like a con-man follows a lot of the fundamental ideas of good engagement. You need to understand the target, have personalized communication that speaks to them, inspire them to choose you and your product and then close the deal. It not only gets great results, but you can keep your ethics right where they below; perfectly intact.

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