Is Tai Lopez a scammer?
I will let you answer that.
What I can tell you, is that Tai Lopez is good at using a lot of persuasion techniques all crammed in the shortest amount of space possible.
- How to Persuade Like A Marketer
- Persuasive Techniques Analysis
- #1. Scarcity
- #2. Authority
- #3. Social Proof
- #4. Liking
- #5. “Secret Insights” Trigger
- #6. Repeat Exposure
- #7. Strategic Honesty: Building Trust
- #8. Self-Prospecting Questions
- #9. False Entry Barriers
- #10. Use Your Enemies: Outgroup Technique
- 11. Relatable “you can do it” path
- #12. The Charismatic Leader Triggers
- #13. Exhaust Your Audience: They’ll Need To Skip (& Buy)
- #14. Lies
- Tai Lopez Review
How to Persuade Like A Marketer
First of all, why an article on Tai Lopez?
Simple: because the guy is killing it on YouTube (and, likely, with online sales).
Indeed, at the time of writing, Tai Lopez is the biggest self-marketer out there.
And let’s be frank, it’s not about content.
His quality content is heavily diluted, and if you really want to learn and develop yourself there are plenty of better resources out there.
What is it, then?
What allows Tai Lopez to build a huge following and rake in millions of online sales?
It’s his heavy usage of persuasive techniques that allows him to make more money online than any other guru.
Persuasive Techniques Analysis
Persuasive techniques leverage some well-known psychological triggers.
We will start with the most obvious ones.
But keep reading for the less-known techniques.
You know this one, don’t you?
This is one of the most commonly used techniques the world over to make money online.
And there is a good reason why: it works.
The principle of scarcity, as explained by Cialdini in Influence says that the more something is scarce, the more we want it.
And Tai Lopez uses this principle any time he can.
The principle of Scarcity has an even stronger appeal when our product is scarce because of high demand.
And that’s why Tai Lopez often pitches his products as only open to a few people because the demand is too high and he cannot -or does not want to cater to everyone.
Can You Abuse The Scarcity Principle?
I believe the abuse of the scarcity principle, which often is also a very easy one to spot, is the single most important factor why Tai comes across as such a fake snake oil salesman.
And that’s why people like you and I might probably not buy from Tai.
BUT… Not all audiences are smart and educated.
And if you are selling to green-in-the-tooth, not particularly bright individuals, you can probably make more money online by abusing the principle than by using it, ehm… Judiciously and honestly.
The principle of authority says we are (much) more likely to listen to someone when we perceive he has authority.
Especially if we’re dealing with his field of supposed expertise (as explained in Instant Influence).
A cop in uniform for example, or a doctor in a hospital, or the head researcher in the experiment.
Tai Lopez as Authority
Tai Lopez tries to first of all places himself as an authority.
He does it when he says he started as a poor man and shows us all the rich-man trappings, thus communicating that he knows how to make money.
But he also gets authority when he says he learned hugely from top mentors and that he reads nonstop.
When he says that he is providing credibility to his teacher role because he never stopped studying and he learned from the best people out there.
His attitude of always explaining things and standing in front of flip charts also leads people to believe he knows what he’s talking about.
All the materialistic possessions he accurately places around him also serve to project him as an authority.
His villa, his sports cars, the often objectified women… They are all authority tools because they communicate that Tai “made it”, so he can speak from a position of experience.
Authorities Endorsing Tai Lopez
Tai Lopez also gets authority when he names-drop supposedly billionaire friends.
People think “wow, if so many rich people as friends he must be good”.
Tai tries to show two things with rich and famous people, such as that they:
- Are part of his circle
- Respect him and his knowledge
Notice, for example, how nonchalantly he mentions Elon Musk.
He says “the last time I chatted to Elon Musk” as if those chats happened often and they’re no big deal for him (watch the scene here).
Notice when he met Mark Cuban, a famous billionaire, Tai made the video of him opening his own house door as if to highlight that it was Mark Cuban who went to him and not the other way around.
That was a huge one for Tai and in a later video where he tried to defend himself from “fraud allegations” he mentioned sarcastically that “Mark Cuban stopping by was an impersonator”, as if to say “if I were a fraud I wouldn’t be able to meet Cuban”.
This is strictly my opinion, but Mark Cuban didn’t look very sharp for going along with that gag and gave me the impression of a closeted homosexual… And Tai’s a pretty boy :).
Authority From Scientists
But of course, Tai also doesn’t shy away from the most obvious of authority endorsing: the top scientist
It sounds almost comical when he introduces the “leading scientist” as “having published in all these top scientific journals”, but it probably works for many people (as a note, I looked that leading scientist up, and all publications I could find where self-published posts on his own Linkedin).
#3. Social Proof
Mortensen in Maximum Influence says that we are social animals and many of our decisions are based on what other people think and do.
Tai uses social proof in abundance.
He always comments on the huge number of people following him, thanking him and asking for his suggestion.
The listeners will think that if so many people follow him and write him… He must know what he’s talking about.
Of course, very few think it might be a Ponzi Scheme..
Tai Lopez, Hot Women & Cars
Sex can sell fantastically, but the wrong sexual association can also spell doom for products that are not related to sex (Cialdini, Pre-Suasion).
Tai Lopez makes sure he never comments on him sleeping with many women because it could not gel well with his “knowledge and teacher image”.
But he makes sure he always has hot women and Italian sports cars around (the two things are actually very tight in the modern world imagery).
It proves and sub-communicates that he must be very successful with women.
People seeing cars, money, and hot women want to become like him, and the quickest way seems to be to, well… Buy from him.
Liking works in two ways:
- We buy more from those we like
- We buy more products that people we like also buy
In vulgar language, we could call the second part the “rub-off effect”.
And that is why so many brands associate their products with a celebrity.
Tai always tries to make a short video or take a snap of himself with some famous well-liked and respected celebrity.
That way he can inflate his own credibility by giving the idea those celebrities know him (and, sub-communicated, endorse him).
Check indeed this picture with Elon Musk and some people wondering “why Elon Musk is endorsing a scammer”: Quora question (the obvious answer being Elon Musk cannot vet all people taking pics with him).
And he made his short video with Rihanna his very own channel intro video. That’s how important it is for Tai to be seen as a known and respected man among top celebrities:
Notice Tai will later highlight Rihanna asked him for book recommendations because “she knew he had the biggest book collection”. Tai is using Rihanna in one single fell swoop for liking, social proof, and authority.
Watch out for value leechers when you become a celebrity :).
#5. “Secret Insights” Trigger
Would you listen to a billionaire who told you that he is going to share his “how to make millions online” only with you?
You probably would.
And that’s the power of authority combined with the power of “secret insight” trigger.
Our mind is programmed to look for shortcuts and the easiest paths to our goals. Secrets and information that are still unknown to the masses promise us an easy way to get ahead.
It doesn’t matter that the biggest “secret” to Mastery is effort applied over the long run (read Mastery, Grit): our subconscious is hypersensitive to keywords such as “tips”, “secrets” and “insider information”.
Tai Lopez often brands his information as “secret insights”, “insider information” and “new breakthroughs” which are available to a few lucky ones.
#6. Repeat Exposure
Warning: you might need major capital to leverage this one.
A message that is repeated time and time again makes people eventually curious to go and find out who the hell this guy, who has become so present in their life, really is.
That’s basically how Tai Lopez launched himself: with a huge multi-million dollar marketing ad campaign that got him in front of the eyes of his target group.
Multiple, multiple times.
With repeat exposure, he went from a nobody to an Internet phenomenon. And it didn’t matter that he paid for that and that he rented the houses and the cars… Sometimes what it seems to be is equivalent to what it is.
Also, the “mere exposure effect” (check Incognito by David Eagleman) says that simply being exposed multiple times to a message, or to someone, leads us to like that person more and to believe that message more (also check the Like Switch)
#7. Strategic Honesty: Building Trust
A great way to build trust is to highlight a defect of your product (Tony Robbins calls it pre-framing in “Power to Influence“).
It does two good things for you:
- Builds trust, because you are willing to share negative information
- Takes the objection away from people’s minds because it’s already been discussed
You will notice that Tai sets the bar very low for his courses and implies that if you just follow his suggestion you will live like he’s living (hopefully that doesn’t mean living on borrowed money :).
But he still often repeats that “it’s not a guarantee and not everyone will get rich… Not super quick at least” (let’s give time to the refund period to expire at least :)-.
This makes him sound more honest and offsets a little all the other sales techniques he uses.
This is not a get rich quick scheme..
A special mention goes to his very first ad, the one that was all over the place.
He says “now this is not a get-rich-quick scheme”, addressing the very first objection people have when looking at that video.
Of course, he then proceeds to re-lower the bar again by saying “I can’t promise you will be able to buy a Lamborghini tomorrow, but you will be able to buy it much sooner than you think..“.
#8. Self-Prospecting Questions
I love this technique because it’s actually ethical.
Tai Lopez asks questions that are designed to make us answer internally “yes” so that we can self-prospect.
It’s incredibly more powerful than telling and much more powerful than asking direct questions as well because this way we feel we reached the conclusions all by ourselves.
For example, while telling he didn’t start off rich Tai Lopez will say:
Now I don’t know where you’re starting from…
And when he’s talking about money and he draws dollar signs he says:
Now I don’t know what you want..
Of course, the vast majority of people listening to those videos do want to get rich and are starting from low levels.
So as they answer in their head “I’m also starting from low (like you)” and “I also want money” they feel closer to Tai, bond with him, and confirm to themselves they are the perfect people to buy Tai Lopez products.
#9. False Entry Barriers
Would you feel cooler if you were admitted into the VIP section of a local club?
Chances are that yes you would, even though there is nothing inherently great with the VIP section.
But we all feel more special when there was a selection to enter and we made it through.
We “made the cut”, we were good.
Tai Lopez often uses false entry barriers to make people feel good about “being good enough to follow him”.
He does it in his very first advertisement.
“be an optimist, if you’re a cynic don’t click here”.
Of course, the cynics might have clicked but weren’t going to buy.
Now the people who weren’t unsure or the ones who were interested can identify themselves as the ones who “made the cut”: they’re not cynics, they’re optimists, and they can go ahead.
And they feel proud and happy. And closer to Tai Lopez, the man who bestowed upon them the optimist label -and how is just about to teach them how to make money online… After they give him money-.
And by the way, some cynicism is actually healthy.
See this article on positive cynicism:
#10. Use Your Enemies: Outgroup Technique
This is an old favorite of crooked politicians the whole world over.
I think this is by far the best move from Tai Lopez.
It’s a form of False Entry Barrier, but the way he uses it with his enemies takes its effectiveness to a whole new level.
Tai Lopez attracted lots of haters -and a few people willing to show the truth-
Some of these people found out he rents his place and doesn’t own it, that he pays for women to stand around him, and that he… “bent” some truths.
Well, while pitching one of his products Tai says scathingly and disapprovingly:
I don’t want to deal with a whole bunch of people who are super cynical. If you are one of those people who thinks that I don’t know what I’m talking about, or this is all rented or this some kind of an act, then just go off the video, this is for serious people.
Let’s analyze what he did:
No critics ever said he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, they just said he’s a liar and a fraud.
But by mixing true statements with fake ones he makes their objection seem much shakier and the product of “hatred”.
Then he says if you’re one of them you should stop listening and not join his group, please.
That’s the False Entry Barrier because the critics would not buy anyway so he can safely tell them to go take a hike.
Then he says:
Tai Lopez: “this is for serious people”.
Now the people who are NOT his critics feel a stronger bond and connection to Tai Lopez and between themselves.
It’s because now there’s an out-group, the haters, and an in-group.
His followers can now identify as the in-group, which happens to have lots of positive characteristics: they don’t hate, but they are optimists and serious about getting rich (and incidentally buying Tai Lopez products).
To sum it up, in one fell swoop Tai Lopez:
- Makes his enemies’ position shakier
- Uses his enemies to create an out-group
- Throws a fake disqualifier strengthening people’s resolve to buy
- Makes the in-group stronger and prouder to be with Tai Lopez
11. Relatable “you can do it” path
Tai Lopez doesn’t just present himself as a rich man.
He presents himself as a man who started poor and got rich. And that’s why he’s qualified to teach it.
That’s a great pitch because it does three key things:
- Communicates familiarity: “he was like me”, people think
- Gives a sense of possibility: “if he did, so can I”
- Communicates credibility: “he must know what he’s talking about”
Joseph Sugarman lists “familiarity” and “credibility” in his marketer’s book Triggers, and they are both key ingredients in Tai Lopez pitch.
#12. The Charismatic Leader Triggers
Contrarian, rebels, and strongly opinionated leaders are the ones commanding the strongest following.
It’s one of the secrets to becoming a charismatic man.
Tai Lopez tries to replicate that hard-core fan base with his own version of strong statements and opinions, but he does it again in a very “marketed” and safe way.
He does it when he says
Tai Lopez: “stops listening, if you’re a cynic, I don’t want you here“.
Or when he’s very caustic with the “generation of self-entitled people“.
Of course, he takes some aim at the private schoolers out there too and says that “genius level” smart people down-perform.
All these seemingly strong positions make him seem contrarian and opinionated, but they are all safe attacks because most people buying his products are not in private MBAs, not “genius level smart” and nobody thinks of themselves as entitled.
And they all strengthen his group of followers who now identify themselves as “those who don’t have a silver spoon in their mouth”.
#13. Exhaust Your Audience: They’ll Need To Skip (& Buy)
Make things fuzzy and they will pay for clarity.
Tai Lopez puts out an incredible amount of videos, often hours long. This doesn’t just help him with the “repeat exposure” we talked early, but also to sell with exhaustion.
People can’t possibly follow all his videos, so they think they must be getting a summary of all his says in a more concentrated form. With what? With his products of course.
Also his hour-long product presentations… I’d love to have some statistics but I’m guessing that most people who buy, buy before the end of the video.
It’s because we don’t have so much time, and after all the sales techniques Tai Lopez uses we would rather get to the goodies and “start getting rich” rather than waste time with the watered-down pitch.
Of course, sometimes if we could just lie it could make it all easier when it comes to influencing people.
At least in the short term…
And Tai Lopez doesn’t seem to shy away from crossing that line.
He says his videos will only be online for a few days… And they’re still there after months.
He tells you this opportunity is “only for his followers”, and it’s there for everyone.
Sometimes he will pretend a product is out of stock and then collects your email to add you to his newsletter and the product magically reappears the day after…
Tai Lopez Review
Tai Lopez is a very smart and well-learned guy.
One may even say he’s a wise man.
As a matter of fact, we agree on a lot of things, including:
- Balance is key
- You don’t necessarily need to be an “alpha male“ to succeed as per exceptional dating dynamics and the effectiveness of “niches“
- You need a certain level of dark triad traits to succeed, and Tai is a good example of (positive) Machiavellianism
Says Lopez in an old IG post:
My mentor Dr. David Buss said that all dark triad traits are functional in the sense that they have successfully been perpetuated in the gene pool. So my guess is a little narcissism doesn’t hurt. But a lot does. Balance. Not extremes.
When I hear him talk, he’s the type of guy I’d like to meet.
But when we’re talking about Tai the marketer, then, well… We differ.
Yes, you do some of these techniques.
Even if you sell great products you will still need to leverage a few of these techniques. Or lots of them.
Learning how to build a successful business is all about learning psychology and what makes people tick.
Tai Lopez has become successful by using a great number of influencing techniques… Constantly.
My main gripe with Tai Lopez is that he has shown no qualms in lying and pulling sneaky tricks as well.
I stayed on Tai’s newsletter for a while.
And here’s the latest one: he launched a course on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. This is a technique that marketer Joseph Sugarman calls “link to fad”, which says basically talks about what is hot so that you can ride the wave.