The 7 Dark Principles Behind Why Weight Loss Scams Work So Well
When I first started writing about weight loss and fitness on the internet, I was shocked by one thing. I was very surprised that people would rather buy a weight loss pill, or supplement, or ab belt, which they often knew was not healthy, versus hiring a personal trainer or buying a book.
I mean, surely people would do the healthy and sustainable way to lose weight, right? Don’t people know that ab belts and vibration devices are a bunch of bull?
I was surprised how many people had hired me as their coach, only after they had done all the ab belts, detox teas, and weight loss pills.
Some years later, I was thinking why these things work on us, and I realized there were seven qualities inherent in our psychology that made them effective.
Why Weight Loss Pills Sell So Well: Reason #1 – Pain
“Hey girl, want to be my ab belt wife?”
Behind all of this, the reason why these work and sell so well is because people are in pain. Just like how financially struggling people will often fall prey to $10,000 financial intelligence seminars, those of us struggling with our weight will try anything (at least once) in order to lose weight.
Where there’s pain, there’s someone willing to sell a pill for that pain.
Reason #2: The desire for fast results.
How can you get someone to buy as much as possible of something as quickly as possible? Make sure there’s pain, and make sure you guarantee they will get results – fast.
Anyone who wants results yesterday will buy infinitely more to help them reach their goals today.
Reason #3: The belief that there must be something “different” to get results.
Obviously, no marketer could successfully sell an ab-belt unless we believed that “the advice we’ve been told no longer works…” which is, of course, part of the sales pitch. We’re doing Paleo, and then we’re told, “Paleo doesn’t work on everyone.”
We’re doing workouts in the gym, and someone says, “why you should stop working out in the gym, and focus on this instead…”
We’re a man or woman, young, or old, and we hear, “this doesn’t work for people like you, you should try this instead.”
Behind every marketing scheme, there must be a person who genuinely believes their case is different, that they are somehow the anomaly.
Reason #4: The belief that there must be a “better way.”
“So how much longer do I have to awkwardly sit here and fake smile for?”
Behind the belief that there must be something “different” you need to do to see results, this goes hand in hand with the belief that there must be a better way.
Because if what you’re doing is not working…
And it’s not even the best way…
And it certainly isn’t the correct or fastest way…
Why would you not keep searching, right?
Reason #5: Self-hatred.
How can you get someone to buy something right now? Make sure they really, really hate the situation that is going on.
Make sure they really hate their husband or wife, make sure they really hate how they look in the mirror, or how little they can enjoy life because they have debt.
Reason #6: Self-comparison
Now how can you layer on even more frustration for a person who is potentially going to buy something?
Make sure they not only have some degree of self-hatred, but they have that because they are comparing themselves to some other ideal.
Make sure they spend tons of time on social media. Make sure they spend time comparing themselves versus their friends. Make sure they are filling their minds with what the “ideal physique” and ideal life looks like.
Reason #7: FOMO
Beyond all of these things. If a person dislikes him or herself, constantly compares him or herself to others, thinks they have to do something different, and thinks there must be a better way, what ultimately drives them to act now is one final thing.
The fear of missing out.
Do you really want to be the only fat person on the beach with your friends?
Do you really not want to get your kids Christmas presents just so you can pay off your debt?
Do you really want to drive that car when you pick up clients?
The irony is that we blame marketing, but marketing actually has nothing to do with it.
If these qualities aren’t inside ourselves, we can’t “fall prey” to the pills and potions, the supplements and skinny teas.
So if we aren’t in pain, we aren’t comparing ourselves, we don’t think there’s a “magical” tea out there for us, and we aren’t endlessly browsing through Instagram pictures, there’s no place for “marketing” to land.
And where there’s no place for marketing to land, there’s a place for happiness to enter.