5 Dirty Things Marketers Do… You’ll Never Believe #3

The topic of marketing can seem fascinating and disgusting at the same time.

Just read the title of this post and you can see it both ways.

This click bait title sensationalizes a headline in order to achieve more clicks and traffic.

Is “Dirty Trick #3” really that unbelievable that you need to know?

Probably not.

But learning what drives that behavior can provide insights to why we act the way we do.

So… here’s the list of 5 “dirty” tricks marketers use.

Trick #1 – Show them your pearly whites

Eyes slimmer
Eyeballs that is..

These two photos were taken in the exact same seat but I turned to change the lighting conditions.

The one on the left is backlit while the one on the right has the natural light coming in through the window.

Humans are the only primates with large white areas in their eyes, known as sclera.

A good marketer (or videographer) knows to have a glint of light coming from the pupils and plenty of whites in the eyes.

The person to the right naturally feels more trusting because you can clearly see the whites in his eyes.

If you’re shooting video or using photos for your website, have bright white eyes in the scene.

It’s also not uncommon for magazines to photoshop the pupils of the person on the cover to make them seem larger.

This is because our pupils naturally dilate when we’re attached to someone.

A cover photo of someone looking attracted to you sells more magazines.

Tip#2 Use a British accent

Studies have shown that British accents (compared to American accents) can increase conversions with online video ads.

Interestingly, this is true in England and in America.

Have a look at these commercials as well…

Those three companies are headquartered in the following areas:

  • Orbit Gum – Peoria, IL
  • Cottonelle – Neenah, WI
  • Geico – Chevy Chase, MD

I won’t make wild guesses as to why these American companies use British talent.

I will trust, with their astronomically high budgets, that it is not by accident.

Ever notice how American talent shows seem to slip in a British judge?

Again, it’s not by chance… it a ratings driven business.

… oh, and yes, I laughed when I read Chevy Chase, too…

Trick #3 Click Bait

The beginning of this post mentioned click bait. It works, but why?

Click bait naturally taps into curiosity.

Curiosity is a cognitive form of deprivation that occurs when you realize you have a gap in knowledge.*

So, we feel compelled to click in order to close that gap.

I liken click bait to news stations that show largely negative, sensationalized stories.

I don’t like either, but they’re used because they get attention and increase traffic and ratings.

So, we as consumers might be the ones to blame for all the click bait titles you see floating around on social media.

Trick #4 – Even or Odd?

Ever noticed that list posts tend to use odd numbers?

Well, now you will.

This post is a good example at it uses the number 5.

Why is that, though?

In researching, I came across this post that explains that odd numbers seem deliberate, whereas even numbers like 10 seemed forced.

Oddly enough, lists containing odd numbers feel more deliberate and credible compared to list with even numbers.

Trick #5 Commitment and Consistency


This one is used by sales professionals and marketers alike.

Robert Chiladini highlights a study of this in his book “Influence.”

Researchers asked some residents (group 1) if they could put a tiny 3 inch sign in their front lawn that said “BE A SAFE DRIVER.”

Two weeks later the researchers went out and approached two groups of people.

They went back to the homes of people who agreed to the 3″ sign and they also approached a new group of people who they hadn’t contacted before (group 2).

They showed both groups a picture of a house with a large billboard in their lawn that said “DRIVE CAREFULLY.”

They asked if they could put a similar billboard in their  front lawn.

Group 1 – 76% of this micro-commitment group agreed to the billboard sign

Group 2 – Only 17% of this group agreed to the billboard

This happens because group 1 already made a small commitment and, without realizing it, their worldview changed.

They’re now the type of person who puts signs in their front lawn.

It becomes easier to say “yes” to the larger ask in order to act consistent with past behavior.

In conclusion…

Marketing can be an interesting topic that dives into subconscious behaviors.

It can also be empty promises and gimmicky proclamations.

If you’re into the subconscious jazz without the click bait at every turn… check us out on Facebook.

We’ll be creating more video content moving forward on marketing, brand building, and behavioral studies.


Study on curiosity

Blog post on clickbait

Whites of the eyes

British voice study