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.

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