What Can You Learn From Crime Families When It Comes To B2B Marketing?


Gene Stark

Gene Stark
Victoria, Australia

  • Making it easy for customers to buy is not always the best option.
  • Exclusivity is important when developing perceptions about your business services.
  • Never forget WHAT you are actually selling; focus on the real benefits and make it emotional.




What can professional service providers and consultants learn from crime families?

– Is it Debt Collection?
– Cash flow?
– Flexibility?
– Confidentiality?

It’s none of the above. It is EXCLUSIVITY. Exclusivity with a marketing referral program like no other!

Television shows that delve into the depth of the underworld, such as Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy, illustrate how hard it is to join these outlaws. And of course it is even harder to leave!

The marketing strategy lesson is to increase your barriers to entry, not just barriers to exit.

Of course traditional thinking sees most marketing consultants recommend making it as easy as possible to “try before you buy”, or to experience a product at the lowest possible cost in the hope of then building a long term and loyal relationship. And undoubtedly this works across most product and service categories. However there are cases when marketing consultants and their clients can use one of the 6 Laws of Persuasion – The Law of Scarcity.

One great example in history was a time when potatoes were made to be as valuable as gold. During the late 1700s, potatoes were regarded with suspicion, distaste and fear. The French believed they caused leprosy, the Germans used them as animal fodder, whereas the Russians presumed them to be poisonous. Catherine the Great, ruler of Russia, saw there was a great famine, and had high fences erected around her potato fields with guards stationed around to fend off thieves. Of course, the peasants of the town would watch and wonder why the wealthy were keeping the potatoes to themselves. Such an exclusivity of the potato created a desire that eventually turned potatoes into a staple of the Russian diet (Pratkanis & Aronson 2001). Interestingly King Frederick of Austria did the exact same thing, which is how Frederick potatoes got their name!

Of course it is not exclusivity alone that is the drawcard, whether it be joining an exclusive golf club or an organised crime syndicate. It is the benefits; from the feeling of safety and belonging to the power and the financial windfalls, whether through networking at a golf club or profiting from the illicit trade, there are substantial benefits that keep the “member” engaged!

For marketers the challenge is knowing when and how to use exclusivity to your advantage.


Gene Stark

Gene is the co-founder of The Marketing Network, an SME Branding & Marketing Agency that brings together every marketing discipline, providing convenient and affordable solutions for their clients – professional services and B2B firms that need to find, attract and retain customers.

The Marketing Network



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2 thoughts on “What Can You Learn From Crime Families When It Comes To B2B Marketing?

  1. Thanks James. We have something in common! Having been born in the former Soviet Union, I too share your love of the spud, having been brought up on this staple crop.

    Keep well,


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