Laws of Marketing Power: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

“There is only power and good fortune to be obtained by associating with the fortunate.”

–Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

13th flrMarketers know that happiness is powerful. By creating feelings of good fortune and happiness, your brand attracts people to believe in the ideals it represents. Just as powerful, however, is its opposite, which should be avoided at all costs. Hence Law 10 from Greene—Infection: Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky.

As I wrote about last week, playing into people’s fantasies is a key to marketing power. If you can convincingly associate your product/service with increased happiness (regardless of definition), then you are probably doing your job well as a marketer.

The infectiousness of a smile and other emotional states is well documented in modern psychology. In fact, the very act of smiling can actually change a person’s mood. The happy (or fearful) buyer is more likely to purchase, though the decision stems from two distinct motivations.

Consider the ubiquity of social media and its effectiveness as a marketing tool. Humans are social creatures, and communities—real-life or virtual—can make us happy. In fact, active participation in Facebook has been demonstrated to bring happiness (thanks, Carnegie Melon). If people are happily participating on Facebook, and the content they’re sharing, for example, is a video produced by your company or taken by somebody in relation to your brand, then your brand reaps the corresponding benefits.

Another (indirect) path to avoid unluckiness is having an eye toward healthy experimentation. Often, the advertising/marketing status quo presents us marketers with opportunities to try new things which are superior to traditional methods (e.g., digital vs. print advertising). On a larger parallel scale, if brands tread water for too long, usually the market catches up or shifts entirely, and then they’re left on the outside (Blockbuster, RadioShack anyone?).

People then say, “Oh, such-and-such company was unlucky.” A victim of circumstances. But could that company’s leaders have done something earlier to avoid obsolescence? Constant innovation keeps the best companies on top longer, so we might adapt this law to advise, “Keep innovating in order to avoid being cast as an unlucky victim of fate … or drowning in the complacency of your success.”


This post is part of a series in which I explore in-depth how some of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power relate to marketing.


Photo courtesy of Dennis Crowley via Flickr.

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul purposefully merges a creative writing and teaching background with his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy, editorial direction and PR/distribution. He is a perpetual critical thinker who has written/edited hundreds of blog posts and multiple long-form marketing guides, including those aimed at audiences as varied as healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He gets really excited about the science of elite performance, usability, brand voice, headlines, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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