What Makes People Buy: Rejection

Many years ago, I was dating this lovely singer/actress; let’s call her Fedra because that’s her name. She asked me to come with her to an audition for this agency that was able to put you in commercials and what not.

So off we went and then waited 20 or so minutes in an airy NY loft converted into casual office space along with few other candidates and a constant stream of people walking in and out.

When we got there, the dude that was acting as a receptionist handed us -both of us- a clipboard with a basic job application type of deal attached to it.

I explained to him that I was there for moral support alone, but he acted very interested and was impressed with my artistic disposition, and after brief conversation he explained that they represent many musicians.

So I said to my self “what the fuck…can’t hurt none”. So I filled out the application.

Then our number was called

Few minutes later we –yes, both of us- were invited into the office and were warmly received by the agent who asked us to have a seat across her desk.

It seamed little weird to me that they were seeing two people at once but the receptionist explained to me that this was quicker and they have a lot of candidates.

Seamed like a reasonable explanation so there we were, sitting in the lady agent’s office.

After a brief introduction, what happened can only be described as a virtual kiss-ass session for Fedra and a total ripping-of-the-new-asshole for Dino.

The lady agent was very impressed with Fedra and apparently I was the worst thing she had ever laid her eyes on.

The lady agent concluded that they are not in the least interested in representing me, but they would be very interested in representing Fedra. All she has to do is come up with $800.00 for headshots and the portfolio that they put together.

I’m glad that’s over

Anyways, I walked out of there slightly dizzy and only years later was I able to explain what had happened. So here it is.

  • The agency encouraged the candidates to bring friends along. After all, what do they have to lose?
  • Once there, few factors were at play. The receptionist made it clear that they were busy. Remember when he said that “they have a lot of candidates?” Sure, there were few people there, but they weren’t THAT busy. However, it was important to appear busy because that makes them look like they are in demand.

In psychology, this is called Social Proof. I mean, why do people buy Coke, or iPhone? Because these products have Social Proof.

Because the agency was basically a scam (it was a way to generate revenue for their real business of charging for headshots), they knew they would be lucky if they got 50% of the candidates to pay the “entry” fee.

So how do you do that efficiently while appearing selective?

The answer?

Figure out which come-along-friend is more interested, see both friends together and severely reject the one that’s less interested.

From the agencies perspective, they lose nothing while creating a strong sense of selectiveness in the candidate that they did “accept”.

This is an often used principle in commerce.

  • All the douchebags on TV do it (Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and so on.) And if you think that politics is not commerce than you don’t know shit about politics.
  • Howard Stern is a very divisive individual, works for him.
  • When Apple puts the cool-looking, young Mac dude against chubby, suit-wearing PC guy, they are asking you to pick a side and reject the other. Never mind the fact that both Mac and PC are just tools we use to get shit done and shouldn’t say anything about our personality.

So what makes people buy?

You’ll never appeal to all. So reject the ones that are not in your demographic and you appear authentic, selective and bold. Plus you create a strong sense of desire in the ones that you didn’t reject.

In case you were wondering, Fedra never forked over $800.00 for the headshots.

Word of warning.

You WILL appear like a giant asshole to most if you do this. So make sure the rejection is coming from a genuine place and it’s not a put on.

For example, when I use words like “asshole”, I am rejecting people who shy away from that kind of language. But that’s ok, since I don’t really want to talk to those judgmental pricks anyway and I don’t want them on my site or in my life.

Did I just judge people for not cussing? Yup..I think I just did lol

Go ahead. Reject someone in the comments section right now.

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Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi :-)

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  • http://www.itinerantentrepreneur.com/journal/ Robert Dempsey

    I think most of those agencies are scams for headshots. Interesting tactics though, bastards.

    I started the IEJ as a personal blog and decided cussing was going to be part and parcel. I don’t cuss nearly as much as I do in real life, but it there. Frankly though, people need to loosen up and cuss more. That’s my thought. And I hope they come to my site and do it. I’m cool with it.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Fuckin ey :-)

  • http://www.inspiredwish.com Jeanie

    Oh this could be fun! I reject those who say they make handmade or original items when they’re not. If you didn’t make the beads and ear hooks, it’s assembled. If you’re using a mould you bought, and didn’t make, that ain’t original. Don’t whinge that someone copied your style because they bought from the same supplier, do you hear yourself. Really, are you listening.

    The tactic you describe in your story is very sneaky. To be privileged to be the chosen one. I bet too many do fall for it.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thank you for rejecting :-)

      Yes, I think I fell for it. Only years later when I learned about these tactics first hand, was I able to piece what happened. But, you’re right…so many people fall for it, and hard.

  • http://twitter.com/web_licht Leon Widrich

    Dude, I so freaking love your writing style. I am guessing you can put anything in your blog and I will like it, share it and comment upon it.
    Alongside social proof I feel the power of relating is strongly at work here too. If people can compare they are much more inclined to buy things. Ariely’s latest book comes to mind here, but I am assuming that there is no point in boring you with what you already know. (right?)
    Anyways, I think one can use this in a positive and genuine way too, instead of a scam. (I am picking a side here! ;). And on the web too. Social Proof is at work on every blog, no point talking about it. However the relating and comparing thing, can and should be used way more often with web services I feel.
    Once again, I am glad I have written about you Dino in my latest blog post :).http://bit.ly/gEkFF5

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thnx for the kind words Leon. Both here and on you blog. That was amazingly awesome :-)

      In terms of relating, I call it (as do many others) Identification. Its def one of the buying triggers and I have a post about it (one of the older ones).

      I like your idea of using rejection in a positive way…I will meditate upon that idea.

  • http://www.tamingrover.net Taming Rover

    I like how your posts are structured. The addition of red/black/gray separations allow for good flow and easy readability. I hate it when people post blog entries that are far too long and wordy… It’s just damn annoying when you go to read something and it’s all one paragraph, and like half a page long… I get bored after a few lines and tend to move onto… NEXT!

    Not that I’m not capable of getting past the monotony long enough to integrate what they are saying… but many people who post this way are just uninteresting to boot…

    | Like the double negative there?

    Anyway very enjoyable blog and I’ve kicked it on over to your dog page too, so far seems right up my alley!

    (somethin’ like that… right…?)

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Right on :-) You rejected long paragraphs and boring ass blogs. As if you were taking the words right out of my mouth.

      Heres a funny thing.

      I bet you those bloggers who write long paragraphs dont like to read long paragraphs on other blogs. So it makes you wonder….what the hell are they thinking?

  • http://twitter.com/mochan42 Morgan Barnhart

    This technique really works. Even when we know the technique, it can easily happen to us at any point in time. I’ve seen people being told, “You don’t qualify” and that sets people off. “I don’t qualify?? Why don’t I qualify?? I DO qualify!! I’ll show him!”

    Cheers!

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      You bring up an excellent point. All of these techniques work even when we know about them. We must stay vigilant at all times, otherwise…well, this is how people get into the vicious cycle of consumerism.

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  • http://www.theantisocialmedia.com/ Jay Dolan

    I reject my readers every day, and they still keep coming back.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thats cuz we know you’re a hard ass only on surface. Under the hood we know you are a big, soft, moist…ahh, nevermind :-p

      Hey, I mention you in tomorrow’s video post #fyi

      • http://www.theantisocialmedia.com/ Jay Dolan

        Oh god, what did I do to deserve that honor? Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

        • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

          yup…just have to wait and see :-|

  • http://twitter.com/jaennutter Julie Nutter

    It’s because of you that I am brave enough to insert the occasional swear word in my posts. =] If Dino can do it, why can’t I? (Answer to my rhetorical question: I’m not as smart or cool, and probably can’t pull it off. ^-^;; …I just rejected myself…Is there a prize for that sort of thing?)

    I hate those kind of talent scouty things. Mostly because they’re fake…and the power of theoretical rejection is probably far greater than the power of actual rejection (assuming, of course, that you care). Afterall, talent agencies decide who is pretty, who can sing, write, draw, etc… So you must pay the necessary money and prove to everyone that you are, well, not rejectable. <—not actually a word.

    Very interesting, and I don't need to tell you that it's a good read…because I always do and there are very few blogs I am willing to read because most of them bore me. (Side note: don't say it's okay to reject people in the comment section; I'll take advantage.)

    Did you know you used to be the only "dog blog" I liked …. because you almost never talked directly about dogs or dog training?

    Anyway, love the post. Interesting implications even if this type of marketing makes me roll my eyes. <–which annoys people….which makes it fun.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      I love your comments. And Im glad you’re using cuss words on your blog. And what do you mean “used to be?”…you dont like my dog blog no more? That makes Dino sad :-( lol

  • http://www.steveyoungs.com Steve Youngs

    Hi Dino!

    This tactic works because we all want what we can’t have. However, what you and your girlfriend encountered that day was nothing short of big fat scam. I was very happy to read that your girlfriend didn’t fall for it.

    Using rejection and painting a picture for your prospective customer that they may not qualify for your product is a very powerful way to get sales, but you do need to be careful in how you implement it. Let your morals and ethics guide you.

    Kind regards,
    Steve

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      You are absolutely correct on all accounts Steve. But ethics it seams, is a rare animal especially in the show business which feeds on people’s dreams and aspirations.

  • Dan cristo

    Dino, everyone loves your writing style, and they love it because you’re good at telling stories. Why not create a post on how to tell a great story.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thnx for the idea Dan, I might do a video post on how to write, create a paradox and blow up the universe lol

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    So…did you ever get an agent?!?

    This is the “I’m not interested in you” philosophy. When we were in our 20s, I would tell my friends to stop acting interested. The minute you stop being interested, guys flock all over the place to date you. But women (most) are incapable of doing so.

    But this goes for business, too. The second I made the decision to focus 90 percent of my efforts on the new business, the entire freaking world wants to hire Arment Dietrich.

    The art, though, will come when you figure out how to act like you’re rejecting someone just so they will hire you.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      lol…so true Gini. I do it in biz all the time tho, I think we need to talk lol

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    I sometimes wonder if Trader Joes intentionally builds stores in places where the parking lot is too small to handle the traffic. It makes the whole place look busier.

    You are right, say no to people and they try and a lot harder. In my single days I used to tell the boys to say no to their girlfriends. Turn a woman down for sex and you often found that she tried that much harder. Had to be careful about it because it was a good way to start a fight, but sometimes…

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      lol…well, actually …I find that a fight with a woman is a good way to start sex lol

      • http://www.realityburst.com Eugene

        It may not be the best way to start…but it certainly leads to the best KIND haha

  • http://www.realityburst.com Eugene

    People that don’t cuss are assholes! Never trust anyone that doesn’t cuss and doesn’t drink! :)

    “let’s call her Fedra because that’s her name” that cracked me up.

    In all seriousness though…rejection is gold! I wrote a post not too long ago about a marketer who required “applications” in order for you to buy his product. Really? He won’t sell it to you and make a profit unless your’e good enough to give him your money? C’mon!!! …but it works! People will fork over bags of cash just so they don’t feel rejected and feel like they are good enough.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Its truly a powerful motivator. Thats a slick move with the application tho…these machinations make me wanna vomit in my mouth a lil :-<

      • http://www.realityburst.com Eugene

        Can’t really blame someone for using a tactic that works (well, I guess you can lol)

        • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

          I can get down with that approach. Which is why I decided to do a series of these posts focusing on tactics commonly employed by the advertisers, marketers and con men. I find that once we understand these tactics they have no effect on us (or at least they have lesser effect.)

          Im sure you appreciate these machinations as a writer. This kind of thing makes for a compelling narrative. But anyways…Im just happy you’re making yourself at home here on my blog. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

          If there is anything specific within technology, creativity or marketing you’d like me to talk about, let me know. Also, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on creativity as well, especially as it relates to business.

  • http://www.stevescottsite.com Steve Scott

    “I am rejecting people who shy away from that kind of language. But that’s ok, since I don’t really want to talk to those judgmental pricks ”

    Holy shit that was funny, had me laughing for a couple of minutes. Good stuff!

    I see your point. Rejection is an awesome tool. It is used all over the place. Every exclusive resort or restaurant works off the same principle. People want to go, because people want to go. The biggest example I think is the “hot” nightclub. Where all the cool people are whisked by and all the rest of us stand in lines waiting to pay 20$ for a beer. Fuck that noise.

    It sucks, but I certainly do see how and why this marketing ploy works. Most people want to be “special” so where they would avoid something normally they would be much free-er if they think it is exclusive and special. Even simply having an application involved works this exclusivity. As that means there are REQUIREMENTS you need to make to GET in.

    I understand why it works, it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean I like the tactic. (and I am glad Fedra never paid for those headshots)

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      oooh…the night club example is a really good one. They artificially create a demand by systematically rejecting their patrons. Fuck that noise indeed :-)

  • http://thefriendlyblogger.com Lisa

    LOL Dino! I just love you!! :) I used to work for one of these agencies…we were told to go out and scour the earth for hot talent. Find a group of people and only pick one or twio of them. Then when they came in for the speech…they were “sold” head shot and portfolio packages. They attached a couple famous people to their ads which made it seem legit. But you are 100% absolutely correct on the rejected people making the “accepted” buy! scammers the whole lot of them. :))

    Lisa

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      ahhhh…you spawn of Satan…I cant believe you were one of them lol

      • http://thefriendlyblogger.com Lisa

        LMAO!!! I know I know!! I faltered and then realized one day when I went to the office…there was really no furniture or “anchors” for an office. So I did some research and realized I was a pawn. When I confronted the “boss” I was fired!!! HAAAA

        • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

          haha…I was just going to click on “Like” but then I realized that Id be saying that I “Like” you being fired lol I mean, Im glad you’re no longer a spawn of Satan and all…prob a good thing you’re no longer part of the Satan’s outfit lol…Im having a lot of fun with this…you shouldn’t have told me you were “one of them”.

  • http://www.super-hero-affiliates.com/blog James Austin

    Hi Dino

    First visit for me over here – I really like the way you describe this aspect of buying and it is absolutely true. I am (slightly) chubby little PC guy and I aspire to a Mac cos I want to be the smooth looking guy. Then I wake up – quickly check my wallet – sigh of relief, they didn’t get me!

    Seriously, you gotta look out for the scummy scammers!

    Take it easy

    James

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Hey James…welcome to the show :-) I like the “scummy scammers” phrase…I think Ima go check to see if that domain name is available :-)

  • http://traditionalpainter.com Andy

    good point Dino. Isnt it the same idea behind creating a niche? You physically can t serve all the people, so you have to target a few. Not plugging my services (I dont need the work,  m booked out for months) but my approach is rejecting, I suppose?  “I am a painter. I specialise in hand-painted kitchens. This level of service is not for everyone”

  • http://www.alishapaige.com Alisha Paige

    Awesome post and enjoyed the comments even more. I actually had that very thing happen to me several years ago. I was invited into this total scam. They took shots of me, charged me 100 bucks to put me on their website for extras to be used in movies. Yeah, I feel pretty damn stupid about it now. They had the same crap going on, tons of people in the waiting room watching a video on extras and they were calling people, rejecting some. Crazy. Now, I will say that in the freelance world, I’ve written a lot of magazine articles and had many clients asking for my work. I actually had to refuse some because I was so busy so this one nightmare clienet offered to pay more money. That is sort of the same thing, right? I rejected her and she paid more moolah and I agreed to do the job. But it wasn’t intentional. Actually what I was really thinking is this: “Fuck no, lady. I hated working for you the first time. You complain too much and I don’t have the time.” When she offered to pay double for the ghost book I was like…okay, I’ll put up with your shit one more time just so I can get a new pair of shoes I’ve had my eyes on. Am I evil? She shouldn’t have been so unbelievably bitchy. And I agree with the dude who said to never trust someone if they don’t cuss and drink. ;) I do both so I can deal with the real assholes in this world. There’s a lot of them.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      I think the difference between you rejecting the lady and the lady who rejected me is that yours wasnt contrived and intentional.

      Btw..dont tell this to anyone, but I totally charge on a curve. If I dont like you, you pay and arm and a leg, if I do like you, I work with whatever you got :-)