Laws of Marketing Power: Create Compelling Spectacles

“People love what is grand, spectacular and larger than life.”

–Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Greene’s Law 37—”Create compelling spectacles”is a great marketing companion to Law 6 (“Court attention at all costs“). With buyer attention being such a prized object for marketers, these two laws combined may be the most important for marketing power. Considered together, they represent the primary need for visibility and engagement with customers. Before anything else, we need to capture our audience’s attention—you can’t buy what you don’t know about.


And even though “interruption” marketing may be falling out of favor, there are other, less intrusive ways to attract attention. Consider the power of the visual in Web design, how infographics and “visual content” are much-ballyhooed topics in marketing circles. (The human brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text.) Regardless of how attention is gained, once we have it, we had better remain compelling. In other words, give your audience something to remember. Dazzle them with great images, ideas, stories or offers. Evoke strong emotions and penetrate deeper parts of the brain. You’ve worked hard to get their attention (a scarce commodity); don’t waste it.

Indeed, in an age of perpetual distraction, attention may be the most valuable resource. Most people living in the industrialized world with modern technology struggle to direct their own attention every day. Mastering it is the key to mental discipline and unlocking your own inner superstar detective, as Maria Konnikova demonstrates compellingly in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Since focus and mindfulness are frequent casualties in the smartphone-tethered electronic world we live in, if you the marketer is fortunate enough to draw the eye (and mind) of the elusive buyer, then you must make your offering memorable. Otherwise you’re just another fleeting brand image or advertising message lost in the daily barrage of “push” notifications, condemned to a sad graveyard littered with information overload.

Speaking of scarcity, convincing people of it is a great way for marketers to get conversions. Loss aversion is such a strong bias that people will work twice as hard to avoid a loss than to gain the equivalent. Consequently, marketers that are looking to encourage conversions should communicate to buyers that something is limited, e.g., knowledge (being the first to know), time to act, quantities of something. Norman Nielsen Group research on email newsletters shows that one big motivator for signups is the desire to be the first to know something (and better informed than others).

Back to spectacle … by associating your brand with something that tugs directly at people’s heartstrings (or other emotional centers), you foster their allegiance. Whether by conveying scarcity or evoking another primal emotional response, you can grip the subconscious (if not the active imagination) of your buyers. Sear in their minds an overwhelming impression, and the power of persuasion is yours.


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.


Image courtesy of Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

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