Tai Lopez is at the time of writing the biggest self marketer out there.
Some people says he’s a fraud, some says he’s legit.. For sure he uses a whole host of influencing techniques which seem to be working for him, so let’s break them down:
- 1. Scarcity
- 2. Authority
- 3. Social Proof
- 4. Liking
- 5. Secret Insights For the Few
- 6. Repeat Exposure
- 7. Fake 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. Fake Strong Statements
- 13. Exhaustion
- 14. Lies
- Tai Lopez Influencing Techniques: Summary
The principle of scarcity, as explained by Cialdini in Influence says that the more something is scarce, the more we want it.
Tai uses this principle any time he can.
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.
The principle of Scarcity is even stronger when something is scarce because of high demand, so 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.
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 in 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 place himself as an authority. He does it when he says he started as a poor man and showing 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 non stop. 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-chart 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 sportcars, 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 non-chalantlty 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 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 on all these top scientifical journals”, but it probably works on 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 which 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… Buying from him.
We are more likely to buy from someone we like, but liking also works by association. 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 him 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 being 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 leechers when you become a celebrity :).
5. Secret Insights For the Few
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 breakthrough” which are available to a few lucky ones.
6. Repeat Exposure
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 multimilllion dollars 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 by simply being exposed multiple time 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. Fake Honesty: Building Trust
A great way to build trust is to highlighting a defect of your product (Tony Robbins calls it preframing 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 mind 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 make him sound more honest and offsets a little all the other salesy 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
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 do 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
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 advertising. He says: “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, they can go ahead. And they feel proud and happy. And closer to Tai Lopez, the man who bestowed upon them the optimist label.
10. Use Your Enemies: Outgroup Technique
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 just 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… “bended” some truths.
Well, while pitching one of his product 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 analyse 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 listen 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 “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 happen 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 markter’s book Triggers, and they are both key ingredient in Tai Lopez pitch.
12. Fake Strong Statements
Contrarian, rebels and strongly opinionated leaders are the ones commanding the strongest following.
Tai Lopez tries to replicate that hard core fan base with his own version of strong statements and opinion, but he does it again in a very “marketed” and safe way.
He does it when he says “stop 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 to 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 think 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”.
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 having 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 wasting 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 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 Influencing Techniques: Summary
Tai Lopez uses a great number of influencing techniques, and uses them constantly. There’s no harm in that, but the major issue I have with him is that he has no qualms in lying and pulling sneaky tricks, which he also does in abundance.
Edit: I haven’t unsubscribed from Tai’s newsletter to stay up to date :), and here’s the latest one: his course on bitcoin and kriptocurrencies. This is a technique called “link to fad”, which says basically to talk about what everyone else is hot about so that you can ride the wave.
My advise: only investment in highly volatile products if you’re also comfortable in losing your investment.