Ghostly Whispers



“The Psychology of Persuasion"

"Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade"

“Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal"

If you scan the Amazon best-sellers list in marketing and sales you’d think the key to success in those fields comes down to one very simple thing: persuasion.

(or I guess, PRE-suasion, sometimes?)

But, if you’re a fan of punchy article titles—and why else would you be here—you can probably guess what I think about all that.

It really can’t be helped—this fascination we have with those who “win people over” and “close the deal.” Any motivational speaker can breathe mantras into your subconscious about how important it is to influence people.

How everything you do and say is a key data point. And that if you get ONE SINGLE element wrong, you can blow the whole scheme. Because that’s all it is in their minds.

To them, sales, marketing, branding… all of it—is just an elaborate ruse. They are the carnival barkers and your customers are but gullible marks, whose only purpose in life is to swirl around their expertly-crafted sales funnel—like so many turds in a Monday-morning post-coffee log jam.

Washing away the stench of that word imagery—our goal today is to explore this idea of persuasion. Why does common wisdom all seem to point there? Why is that wrong? And crucially—what should our focus be instead?

Persuasion that sucks

Let’s say you’re at a party. You’re there in the corner comfortably nursing your drink… when you're suddenly cornered by an overzealous vacuum salesman.

Now nothing against vacuums—or salesmen per se—but this guy is aggressive.

He’s all gusto—blathering on about the impressive features, the key functions and benefits—even dangling a deal or two, enticing you to act now (so he thinks).

But here's the thing: you don't need a fucking vacuum. You’ve been doing your best to tune him out because the moment he opened his mouth you knew it was a hard “no.”

And that well-rehearsed pitch? A waste. Time, money, energy, good will, LIFE! All of it squandered due to his spaghetti-wall targeting, and his ham-fisted approach.

But that, my friends, is what the persuasion gurus would have you do.1 To them, your disinterest in his degrading display was just a small setback:

Maybe you weren’t ready to bite—but you’ll call him at some point (of course you won’t). A seed has been planted (for you to block him on LinkedIn). And when you’re finally ready to buy, he’ll be the first guy you’ll think of (to avoid).

Now, let's alter the scene slightly. What if you had just (accidentally) dumped a glass of Cabernet onto your friend's cream-colored shag carpet (in this scenario neither you nor your friend is the plan-ahead type)?

Enter vacuum dude: your new best friend. He tries to give you the spiel but you cut him off—throwing your cash at him with one hand, and attaching the shampoo nozzle with the other (he keeps the units on him at all times, hidden away in absurdly large cargo pant legs).

So what changed? Did his delivery improve? Was he better groomed? Did he have a real zinger of an elevator pitch?

Nah man, you just needed it. You changed. Your situation changed. And that made vacuum dude the perfect fit. It’s not persuasion—it’s positioning4.

It’s not persuasion—it’s positioningTM

Positioning often gets overlooked. Not because it’s unimportant, difficult to determine, or hard to comprehend. Rather, because the principles of good positioning seem, on their faces, to be so obvious as to require no actual discussion or formalization.

Like a budding high school romance, most people rush into business with no stated intention (positioning)—assuming the people they’re involved with will all just automatically want the same things, and never have contradictory goals or motives.

Afterall, why would they not see things your way automatically and value all they same things? What are they, idiots?

Not every product is for everyone, every situation, every market, or every budget. And that’s why positioning is such a crucial step in your initial strategic process. It's about identifying who your customers are, and what they need on a fundamental level—and then positioning your product or service as a solution1,2.

It’s not rocket science, manipulation, or field biology. It’s mostly about common sense—despite how uncommon it is in practice. It’s about finding a match with your audience, and guiding them towards what they already seek1,2.

Persuasion: pegging the wrong hole

The idea of persuasion isn't necessarily wrong—it's just not as important as once thought. It's a square peg, and we've been relentlessly trying to jam into a round hole. Ow, splinters!4.

And, like an ill-fitting corset, this antiquated approach has dominated the marketing mainstream for years—despite growing more threadbare with each passing year.
Rather than continuing to fruitlessly chase trends, the answers we seek lie much closer to home. You’ll find references to positioning in some of the oldest marketing tomes around, and those truths never stopped being true.

What has changed since those books were written is the sheer volume of messages—the cacophony our audiences are subjected to each day. And more choice = more confusion.

So simplicity wins. Relevance wins. Like arousal, winning clients is more about context than most people realize. Not fancy words, or some contrived reward system.

People want what most directly addresses their need, no matter where it falls on Maslow’s hierarchy. And no one-size-fits-all persuasion technique can scratch their every itch. It's all about positioning—finding the right peg for the right hole3,4.

The best position for you, and your brand

At this point, you may be saying, “Well shit, let’s get started! How do I position my brand?” The answer starts and ends with understanding your customer1.

Dive into their psyche. Familiarize yourself with their desires, their needs, and their motivations2. And once you've gathered these insights, align your product or service with these needs1.

To do this, of course, you may find yourself questioning who your audience even is—and whether they truly are the fit you thought they were. That’s ok. This is all about asking the simple—but hard—questions, and waiting for an honest answer to appear.

The truth about positioning: we’re not very cool

It’s true. We, marketers, are not wizards. Sorry to disappoint you. We’re not puppet masters pulling strings from the shadows. And if any of us say we are, do not listen to us because we are LYING.
All we really are is our ability to relate. To feel what our audiences feel so we can speak back to them in their voice, and give them what they’re been looking for4.

The sooner we acknowledge this, the more effective our marketing will be. So toss out that uncomfortable square peg! Upgrade to the perfect positioning—and insert yourself effortlessly into the hole of your customers’ desires.

At GhostCMO, we specialize in helping businesses overcome their challenges through strategic branding and marketing. Let's discuss how we can help you steer through the complexities, no matter what you're working on.

Let's talk about growing your brand. Visit our homepage to learn more.

Please report all obscenity-related complaints to our dedicated inbox: icanthang@whyareyouevenstillreadingthis.orgy where one of our counselors is waiting to assist you.

1. Mcleod, S. (2023). Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs. Simply Psychology. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from
2. Andrews, S. (2019). Are You Using Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs For Your Marketing?. Forbes. Retrieved from
3. Professional Academy. (2023). Marketing Theories - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from
4. Xiang, W. (2023). The Myth and Illusion of Persuasion. Medium. Retrieved from
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