How to Trick Customers to Buy Your Products

I recently saw a discussion where one guy said he had got an unethical idea how he perhaps could trick customers to buy from him. While some people would think it would be an easy way to gain some money, there are some fundamental flaws in this type of thinking.

Tricking people is tricking yourself
The fundamental problem with this type of “how to trick some people to purchase something” is that it focuses on the first sale. Not 4th or 6th sale – but first. It could be said that it’s one of the “principles of marketing” to focus not just on the first sale, but the fact on how to get your loyal customers to buy again. Over and over.

Getting 1 dude to purchase 10 times is much easier than getting 10 new customers to buy once
That’s the problem. The cost of getting the first sale is much higher than getting the second, or third sale from single customer. If your strategy is to trick customers – you end up tricking yourself since getting new customers requires much more effort from you than selling to your old customers.

And then there are the charge backs…
The other truth about tricking people: it just leads to more credit card charge backs. If your product is flawed, and you’ve tricked somebody to purchase it – he will call to his credit card company and require a chargeback. You end up empty handed.

And talk about word-of-mouth
Another reason why tricking people is not a good strategy, because there’s absolutely no viral aspect in it: nobody wants to recommend a product that’s not working. You won’t get anybody to recommend an useless product if they were tricked to purchase it.

Bottom line
Strategies based on tricking people are not going to work: they won’t help you build long term relationships and income. Since trickery provides no value to customers – it cannot sustain.

Whenever you are thinking if you should do things that sound unethical, ask yourself: “If I’d be the customer – would I want to be marketed in this way?”

The only way to trick customer to buy something is to provide extraordinary value.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. He was going to copy (or edit a bit) a corporate logo (such as CNN) and display on it his website to make his own product look better – even when he has no association with the corporation, or never featured there.

  2. Though I’m not about to trick anyone, I think you should at least tell us what the basic idea of the trick was ;) even if it’s totally unethic, it might warp your mind to some really good idea, actually. It’s the basic brainstorming thing – just don’t get rid of ideas too soon, because even if they are totally unrealistic or unethic or whatever, they might give you new ideas which actually are.

    (And the other reason why I’d like to hear the idea is pure curiosity ;)

  3. Heh, you guys sure know how to play it evil ;)

    Oh, and yes – I was referring to “unethical/dishonest” tricks – if the customer is happy, then I see no problem.

  4. “The other truth about tricking people: it just leads to more credit card charge backs. ”

    Not quite true. The credit card companies introduced secure code systems a while back, “verified by visa” being one example. If a purchase comes through that has been verified then the customer cannot charge it back. If he could get a refund it would come from the credit card company and NOT the merchant. Great idea :)

    The only time a verified credit purchase could come back to you is if you were genuinely doing something dishonest. If you were just making the demo far better than the actual game or something similar then you wouldn’t have to refund verified credit card orders.

  5. Also…if the trick is not “dishonest” or totally amoral, and the customer is happy because they end up buying from you when they not have, then is it such a bad thing, perhaps it’s just clever marketing, or a borderline practice that some people frown at but most customers don’t mind (or are used to)…

    It could be argued that the customers who are put off by the technique may be less susceptible to future marketing as well and may not make the best customers anyway, not as much as the ones you’ve captured with the technique ;-)

  6. Here’s the thing though. You could A/B test tricking vs not over say a long period of time and if the trick STILL resulted in higher sales, then maybe…. ;-)

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