Modern society undeniably fosters the germination of a few bad seeds, and more than a few seeds that never blossom at all. On the bright side, most of us don’t fall into either of these categories, and actually have quite a bit to offer the world. We’re kind, giving, talented (insert any other desirable adjective here). Yet, for many of us, there is a perceived shortage on the demand for our presence, companionship, or skill sets, whether in a professional setting or a purely social one. We become discouraged when we see individuals far less talented than us get the jobs we want, date the people we want, and get invited to the events we ourselves would be grateful to attend. It’s hurtful to be perpetually underpaid, or all dressed up on a Friday night with nowhere to go, knowing all the while that we add value to any situation we have the opportunity to take part in.
If any of these scenarios serve to describe your own life, it’s likely that you are unaware of the concept of lifestyle marketing, and how society deliberately, and successfully, reprograms our minds to make all of our selections, either socially or professionally, in accordance with this concept. Becoming more intimately acquainted with how this form of marketing operates causes a fundamental shift in our decision-making processes. With this knowledge, you will be enabled to manipulate the odds in your favor, and in doing so, make it utterly impossible for society at large to overlook you as the precious commodity that you know yourself to be.
Lifestyle marketing is the primary factor guiding a modern-day consumer’s purchasing habits. When someone goes out and spends $1000 dollars on a handbag, or a smartphone, the intrinsic value of the product itself is insufficient to justify making a financial investment of this size. So what’s the true reason manufacturers can demand such a premium for these items?
Elaborate advertising campaigns have programmed us to believe that each product also comes with the promise of a luxurious lifestyle, or at the least the ability to portray ourselves as an individual living a life of luxury; in our minds, this becomes an inseparable component of the physical product. To put it in a straightforward way, an iPhone has a cool-factor, and most humans are willing to pay more for a product boasting this factor, than they would for the product in isolation.
Don’t get me wrong– there are plenty of great products sold in conjunction with provocative imagery, and it’s this synergy between the two that leads us to perceive these products as commodities. If we wish to make ourselves as desirable as some of the hottest products around, we must recognize that the all-pervading presence of lifestyle marketing forces us to do more than simply develop ourselves into a desirable product. On a planet with 7 billion people, it takes something extra to stand out, even in the places that we frequent, and we must learn to market ourselves effectively to accomplish this.
(Any sales pitch you have ever been unfortunate enough to endure was backed by extensive scientific research. This article isn’t meant to give you a lesson in sales techniques [of which there are a staggering number], but if you wish to expand upon the few examples provided here, you can be confident that researching virtually any popular marketing techniques will provide strategies that can be readily adapted to benefit you directly. My intention here is to provide only a small taste of how you can begin to sell yourself more effectively. I will start with an example in a professional context, as it provides a nice introduction on how to approach the science of lifestyle marketing. I will then move on to a few examples aimed at demonstrating techniques much more broadly within the arena of human socialization.)
Supply and Demanding the Best for Yourself
Pretend that all of us share the same disdain for job interviews that I do, dreading both the anxiety of the interview itself, as well as the feeling of rejection that comes along with being passed over for the position. An error this anxiety has led me to commit in the past, and that interviewees commit frequently, is appearing too desperate to get the job, and answering the questions in a way that makes it clear they are saying whatever is necessary to gain employment in the relevant position. If we are to portray ourselves as a commodity, we must generate the appearance that we are trying to determine whether this job, and this company, prove the ideal fit for us, every bit as much as the interviewer is attempting to ascertain whether we are the best fit for the position.
Internally, we acknowledge we would likely settle for a position far less than ideal for the privilege of a weekly paycheck. Simultaneously, we comprehend that the ability to project an image of ourselves as an individual who could easily obtain employment at a variety of businesses is the strongest weapon we have to convince the interviewer we are a worthwhile prospect to invest his or her time in. The Apple corporation is eager for your business, but they don’t need it; if you walk by the display without grabbing a copy of their newest development to take with you, they can be confident the person walking in just after you will. Subconsciously, the knowledge that everyone else wants this product, that an extraordinary demand is placed upon it by society as a whole, contributes significantly to your desire to possess one as well.
Dress nicely, be courteous, and express gratitude that the interviewer has taken the time to meet with you, but dedicate most of your efforts to making it clear that you are not simply there to obtain employment, but to learn whether this specific employment opportunity is the best of many at your disposal. This is not accomplished by being cocky, or acting uninterested, but by asking thought-provoking questions of your own, pertaining to the particulars of the position, that demonstrate you are not the only individual in the room that possesses the luxury of demanding the best for yourself.
The image brought to mind when we visualize a modern factory is likely one of an entire building set to overdrive, cranking out the maximum volume of a given product the machinery can handle without bursting into flames. In reality, companies often limit production as a means to limit access to the product. The belief that we are privileged to possess a product that is inaccessible to the masses elevates its appeal to us, and this illusion of exclusivity is an indispensable component of lifestyle marketing. Similarly, when we wish to forge new social alliances, we must manipulate our availability to highlight the fact that our services are in constant demand.
This cannot be accomplished by repeatedly cancelling plans, or declining invitations, because there are many other wonderful products coming to market every day, and they are waiting eagerly on the shelves to be selected as our replacement. We must learn to maintain some availability, while prioritizing the existing obligations in our life first. Rearranging an entire business model to accommodate a single new customer cultivates the impression that sales are dwindling, when the public belief that business is thriving at all times is paramount to actualizing this reality. People will agree to being put on a waitlist, if they are convinced the product is worth exercising patience in order to attain it. In return, they must be placed at the top of the waitlist, as a means to prove to them that their business is every bit as important to you as gaining access to your product is to them.
Packing is the Product
No product of significant value will be set out where the public can break it, smudge it with fingerprints, or slip into their pocket to take home free of charge. To safeguard against these contingencies, most commodities are completely enclosed within packaging, often excessively so, long before you are granted access to them. Our first true interaction is not with the product at all, but with the packaging itself. Likewise, when we meet new people, they lack the background information to help them judge whether we are a worthwhile investment, and must make their initial decisions based solely on the packaging. (In this case, the concept of ‘packaging’ serves to describe our outward behavior- the ways that we carry ourselves readily observable through social observation. However, it should also be noted that physical appearance significantly affects individuals’ initial determinations of each other, and it’s always a good idea to put time into looking presentable.)
A common mistake individuals make in self-marketing is attempting to garner attention by displaying themselves in the brightest, boldest packaging imaginable; in the dating world, this is often referred to as peacocking. Successful products sell themselves, so the packaging should only enhance the overall purchasing experience. When consumers see a marketing campaign that is clearly a desperate plea for attention, they assume the product doesn’t possess enough intrinsic value to warrant being plucked off the shelves by its own merit.
Efficient packing should be thoughtful and provocative, but the true genius of the presentation lies in the diligent consideration afforded to the smallest details. Slight behavioral shifts can manifest vast results, especially in a world where most individuals don’t make the time to be courteous to strangers. Maintaining eye contact slightly longer, smiling a little wider, and asking, “How are you?”, not out of habit, but out of sincere interest, are just a few subtle social cues that humans are programmed to recognize. Consciously, the potential consumers we engage won’t be cognizant of the effort placed into each detail, but they will notice that on a shelf filled with similarly packaged products, yours is the only one their attention repeatedly returns to.
Find your Niche
Even the most successful business ventures acknowledge that their products won’t appeal to everyone. You won’t find a steakhouse catering to vegans anytime soon, nor vegan products advertised in the latest issue of ‘Guns and Ammunition.’ It is essential to the successful outcome of your marketing campaign that you find your target audience, and then develop strategies that pertain specifically to them. Discovering your appropriate audience depends upon self-reflection and an honest evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses. We must remain focused on selling the product we are, and not the one we sometimes desire to be.
A somewhat quiet, reserved person, such as myself, will not find it in their best interests to pander to a boisterous, aggressive crowd. The beauty of competing in a saturated marketplace is that it relies on a highly diversified customer base to support it. For every product susceptible to frequent bouts of shyness, there is a consumer with similar attributes looking to spend money on something that was manufactured with them in mind; closing the sale hinges upon finding a way to break through and appeal to this customer directly.
For personality types falling at different points on the spectrum, the strategy must be adjusted accordingly. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with harboring an obsessive pre-occupation for fast cars and all things that explode. Simply recognize these as your preferences, and accept that the cute boy or girl you always cross paths with, endlessly engaged in discussions of Nietzsche or writing sad poetry, might not be the ideal candidate for your sales pitch. And you know what? That‘s perfectly alright. Every lucrative business relies on a loyal customer base that returns to their products repeatedly, and concerns itself very little over consumers in the marketplace searching for something drastically different than they have to offer.
Profit and Potential
Everyone (well, almost everyone) works hard for their money, and no one is going to fork out more at the register than the number you stick on the price tag. Thanks to lifestyle marketing, perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the higher the price is, the more favorably a consumer may perceive a product’s intrinsic value. It is in your best interests to demand a high price for your time, company, and access to your skills, but it equally essential that you have the confidence, as well as the ability, to provide a service that justifies insisting upon such a premium. If others conduct a cost-benefit analysis on you, and find the cost beginning to exceed the benefit, they will dismiss you as someone with an over-inflated ego, lacking the features to back-up their claims. Lifestyle marketing is not about crafting an ideal image of yourself in lieu of being an excellent human being; it is about recognizing your own worth, socially and professionally, and then taking advantage of the supreme effectiveness of this marketing strategy to make it obvious to others how much of a commodity you truly are.