Spiderman Reveals the Difference Between Manipulation and Persuasion


I love the scene in the Spiderman movie (the first one with Tobey Maguire) when Uncle Ben tells Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.” 

That’s true for super heroes. 

That’s also true for marketers. 

I’m working on a revised and expanded version of a free resource I created a few years back called “7 Ways to Make Your Marketing Messages More Persuasive.” I’ll share that with you soon. 

A client who read the previous version once told me, “I understand the power of these persuasion tips. But I don’t want to manipulate people.” 

That’s a common concern. 

Here’s my answer: The (big) difference between manipulation and persuasion is intent

That’s just another way of saying with great power comes great responsibility. 

If you are an ethical business person…

…if your intent is to provide products and services that help your prospects…

…if you’re willing to turn away a prospect who won’t benefit from your products and services…

…then you should persuade them to act

…because acting is in their best interest

I’ll repeat that last point: Persuade them to act in their best interest. 

If you are unethical…

…if you’re looking for the sale at all costs…

…if you don’t care whether your products and services will help the “sucker” who buys them…

…then the act of convincing and cajoling is manipulation. 

Summary: Don’t manipulate someone to act against their interests. 

When I share with you those tips, you’ll have great power to persuade prospects to act. 

With that power will come great responsibility…

…the responsibility to persuade those who will benefit from what you sell. 

There’s an old saying, “He can sell ice to an Eskimo.”

For some, that’s a compliment. I don’t see it that way.

I see it as a salesman who intends to use his power of manipulation to trick someone, to convince someone to buy unneeded ice. That’s unethical and irresponsible. 

The best way to know whether prospects truly will benefit from your products and services is to dive deeper to discover their aspirations and fears. 

If you want to dive deeper so you can understand your prospects, power up your stories, sell more, AND serve clients better? Sign up for a Story Assessment.

I’m offering free, 30-minute web conferences to review your business story. I will meet with you via Zoom and review how you’re telling your business story — on your website, social media, and other channels. Then, I’ll recommend how to make it work better during these strange days.  

I have a limited number of slots open on my calendar for these sessions. Please visit my calendar to book a time that works for you.

Whenever you’re ready…here are a few ways we can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you’ll land more clients:

1) Follow Tom Ruwitch on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Attend our free training: “How to Harness the Magnetic Power of Storytelling…” Discover how to transform marketing from a confusing, resource-draining hassle into something that’s simple, fun AND productive. Details and registration here.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.