Paraphrasing what I’ve learned (so far) from Seth Godin about marketing.
What marketing is about is helping someone tell themselves a story about maintaining vs changing their status. We are all operating within a status – the way we see ourselves. We are constantly asking ourselves: what will I tell the others; what would people like me do; what does this do to my status in the invisible hierarchy within which we all operate?
Our best service to our customers is helping them understand the value of their decisions. Value is a feeling, not a price. And the story (that we create as marketers) is what helps them understand the value. This is our job as marketers.
By the way, this is not manipulation. Manipulation is: after the transaction, when they know what we know, they regret their decision. In contrast, if on the other side of the transaction they say, ‘Wow something has improved in my world and I want to tell other people about this!’ then we’ve created real value for them. They understand it, they can feel it, and we’ve made a positive impact.