Sales & Marketing / Strategy & Planning

Enticing and tempting your customers to sin

Enticing and tempting your customers to sin

The seven deadly consumerist sins and how they can add to your bottom line.

We’ve all heard of (and occasionally may have committed?) one or more of the seven deadly sins. These ‘cardinal sins’ or ‘capital vices’ have evolved over time and were translated from Ancient Greek into Latin and into almost every modern language thereafter. Mahatma Gandhi had his own list, his so-called Seven Blunders of the World that included Wealth without Work, Politics without Principle and Commerce without Morality. Today’s marketer will want to play to the modern all-important Conspicuous Consumption version of the sins, which are:

  1. Extravagance and greed
  2. Gluttony
  3. Pride
  4. Lust
  5. Wrath
  6. Sloth
  7. Envy

We need to check that our value propositions give our customers the opportunity to succumb to temptation and commit as many of the consumerist sins as possible!”

john lincoln, author

It’s worth keeping these seven deadly sins in mind, as you develop the value proposition for your customers – because almost all of them will succumb to one or more of them! We need to be mindful of human frailties and the temptations affecting our customers! And we need to check that our value propositions give our customers the opportunity to succumb to temptation and commit as many of these consumerist sins as possible!

Extravagance is the luxury of the poor, penury is the luxury of the rich.”

oscar wilde

Extravagance and greed are unrestrained excesses. Marketers in every industry will pay heed to entice their customers to be extravagant. In whatever business you are in, it always pays to entice your customers to spend more, to buy that extra something that they will not fully use, or to treat a loved one to a special gift or extravagance. Check and recheck if your value propositions offer customers the opportunity to be extravagant and that it is worth it. Ensure the value proposition allows customers to be extravagant – so they can buy something they don’t necessarily need immediately, buy more than what they need, or pay more than what they intended, and so on.

Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.”

Albert Einstein

Extravagance and greed are often thought to apply to excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status and power. But how many of us have had an exclusive invitation from a credit card company, an airline or other service providers that seem to imply that we have a special status? Marketers of luxury goods thrive on bringing out the greed in all of us! Do we really need that $5,000 handbag? It is the divine duty of all marketers to poach customers away from alternative propositions sold by the competition; therefore, betrayal for personal gain can also be considered greed.

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As greed and extravagance are inordinate desires to acquire or possess more than what is needed or deserved, especially with respect to material wealth, this is an easy one for marketers. Communicating subtle or direct aspirational messages helps bring out the greed trait in all of us. So the next time you see that credit card company message or the designer goods ad or the cell phone manufacturer’s message touting for you to be cool with something new which you already have, remember, they are all playing to your sense of greed and extravagance!

Gluttony is not a secret vice.”

Orson Welles

If you are in the food services or hospitality industries, this is an easy sin to tempt your customers with! We all know gluttons, but they do not necessarily have to be just over-indulging or over-consuming food to be gluttonous. You can consume anything to a point of waste to be a glutton. Do you really need that iPhone, when you already have a Blackberry? How often do you need both? Isn’t it just a waste? Offering a fixed-price buffet lunch is surely tempting the glutton in all of us. How about the wonderful buckets of minutes that your telecom provider offers? How about the 2 for 1s that a local supermarket or department store tempts shoppers with?

These are wonderful and great propositions from a marketer’s or a salesman’s point of view as the incremental or marginal cost to offer the next or nth unit is minimal for the provider. If the actual cost is truly marginal or the opportunity cost is too high not to offer it, it behooves the marketer or the sales team to design and craft a value proposition so that customers are tempted to be gluttonous.

It is a beggar’s pride that he is not a thief.”

Japanese proverb

Pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the other six. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self. (So my dear fellow marketers and sales professionals, this is an easy one for us!)

We will all want to excel in making our customers feel inferior for using competitors’ service or product, and conversely, we make them feel superior for using our own ‘well-designed perfect fit’ propositions. The trait of personal pride (and vanity) is exploited in almost all industries: it is the reason so many marketers name their services Platinum, Superior, Super, Exclusive, and so forth. Its power is well understood when it comes to marketing or selling banking services, designer apparel or accessories.

However, tempting customers with propositions that bring into play their dominant ‘proud genes’ is a ploy to be used in the hospitality industry and restaurants, in consulting businesses, politics, entertainment and almost every other sector.

Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.”

Marquis De Sade

Is any sin easier to sell than lust? Just think of it, almost all marketers seem to be selling lust. Some industries and companies take it to an extreme. Just take a moment and look at the airlines industry (in some countries), the entertainment and fashion industries, and the hospitality and restaurant sectors.

The US restaurant chain of Hooters is a good example: the trade name being taken from US slang for breasts, and its waiting staff made up mostly of young, attractive girls. These folks seem to have mastered the art of marketing and selling lust more than others.

Do they take time out occasionally to think about what their true intentions are, or to consider the impact of the models or spokespersons they select for their communications have on their customers? Even the ordinary testimonials from the supposedly ordinary people in their adverts appear to be extraordinary.

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The golden rules of how you can win by tempting your customers to sin

And wrath has left its scar – that fire of hell.”

William Cullen Bryant

Wrath, also known as anger or rage, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred. In its purest form, it may provoke antagonistic feelings towards someone, as hate.

This is one of the seven sins that I am personally very comfortable in tempting customers to commit. Imagine if we could get our customers’ wrath on to our competitors. How could we do that, do I hear you ask? By making the customer realize that we have a better deal, that we offer a better customer experience and that considering other alternatives would not be a valid choice for them. Marketers and sales folks should repeatedly remind their customers what it is we are offering, and routinely remind them of what our competitor is not offering or is unable to do. This is called differentiating yourself in the market. Make the customer feel mad that his or her existing service provider or seller is not doing what your company is able to do.

Conversely, remember that it is a good business sense not to irk your customers’ wrath
on to yourselves.


We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty.”

Marcus Fabius Quintillan

Sloth is considered more a sin of omission rather than commission. We all have been lazy one time or other. In this digital, 24 x 7 Internet age, we have a tremendous opportunity to make our customers lazy.

This is one other sin we should be happy to tempt our customers with. Taking away customer difficulties and offering conveniences which customers appreciate, makes for good commerce. Saving customers’ time and money by tempting them with conveniences makes good sense for the customer and for your business. Any
convenience that takes away customer difficulties makes obvious sense. It also makes good business sense for us marketers and sales folks as it can often mean more sales, fewer costs and more profits.


Envy aims very high.”


Those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it.

So what does this mean for marketing and sales? Well, get your competitors’ customers to feel envious of your customers. Let them join you in droves after realizing the competitor was offering a poor deal, poor service or a faulty proposition. Invest marketing bucks in programs that make prospective customers aware of what they are missing – or what they must have to be like their fellow beings. Let prospects know that they don’t need to be envious because the best proposition, better product or service is available to them easily, affordably and conveniently – through you.

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But beware. Do not let your existing customers who have committed long term to you feel envious of your competitors’ customers. Consider the customer who’s committed to a 60-month car lease or someone who has signed a service contract with penalty provisions for early cancellation. Make them regret this and it is not only envy that you will elicit from the customer. You will also bear his or her full wrath. Hell hath no fury as a customer scorned!

Sinning all the way to seventh heaven?

So entice and expurgate, otherwise you will be effaced… be ebullient and enthused about getting more business and elating your customers, and always keep in mind the seven deadly consumerist sins.

Thou shall thus entice, espouse, exhort, elucidate, enlighten, and enthral your customers with your effulgent propositions keeping the seven deadly sins in your mind. Remember to expurgate the negative aspects of your proposition. If not, your competitor might efface you!

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Tick off the items on this checklist and enable your customers to sin happily


JohnLincoln.oneThe business growth hacker


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