Ethics of The Game

“But isn’t that lying?” “It’s not lying,” he replied. “It’s flirting.”

— Neil Strauss, The Game

I recently closed the final pages on The Game and I must say, it is one of my favorite marketing books I've ever read. And it doesn't speak a word about marketing.

This line is one of many that sticks out to me because I hear it all the time in the online business world.

"It's not lying, it's marketing."

Was it a when you looked me in the eyes and told me that I'd be able to leave my day job in a couple of months... only to find that the program was a bunch of recycled Gary V quotes and the coaches spent more time recording abusive videos about their customers and hiring collections agencies to track down the deserters?

Was it a lie when you told me the offer was today only but then you magically had issues with the cart and reopened it to get more sales?

Was it a lie when I refreshed the page and the countdown timers all reset?

Telling lies hurts your customer.

If the lie works, you've now created guilt, despair, and hopelessness in your prospect. Especially when their world is shattered learning that you lied to them. "How could they be so gullible, stupid, to fall for that?!"

And even if it doesn't work, you've positioned yourself as a fraud. As someone who only wants to make a quick sale and ditch your prospects on the back end. For example, anytime I see a live webinar conveniently starting in 5 minutes, I know I'm not interested in what they are selling. Especially if they go the extra mile with a fake live chat.

What Strauss comes to realize throughout his journey in The Game is that sarging (picking up women) isn't the end goal. The goal is to graduate from the game. To meet someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. The Game gives you the skills and confidence that you need to meet this person. And when you do, you get the opportunity to embark on a new journey of commitment and discovery as you spend the rest of your life with that person.

And the same is true in online business.

In the internet marketing space, we've become so fixated on the tactics. Building 6 or 7 figure funnels. Treating customers like objects. Lying, cheating, doing anything to get them to buy.

Everyone is so fixated on conversion rates and proven swipes and modeling what works that they forget that the person being converted is a human being. "It's not lying, it's marketing." They forget that the goal isn't to create transactions. It's to use these tools to give you a chance to win over your customer. And that's where the journey begins. Once you win the  customer, you have a lifetime of relationship ahead of you. Helping them move forward in their journey, helping them reach their goals.

In our lust for money, the online business community has lost sight of the real goals:

  1. To build a business (not to be confused with a launch machine or a funnel... these are not real businesses).
  2. To help people solve problems.

To be sure, there is a huge difference between having a 7 figure funnel and a successful business. There is a huge difference between selling a product and making an impact in the lives of your customers.

And when you realize that the goal isn't to be the best sarger, only then can you start to see the truth. Only then can you start to build a real business.

If you're anything like me, you've been lied to in the name of marketing more times than you can count. So many times you feel damaged and inadequate, wondering if you'll ever be successful or just continue spending money on this dream forever.

As you go about you days in the online business realm, remember the purpose of what you're learning. You can learn how to become the best sarger so that you gain credibility among the sargers or you can learn tools to help them improve their lives.

Don't forget about the impact (both positive and negative) that you can have on your customers. By starting this business you've accepted responsibility for their wellbeing. Don't let them down.

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