The best marketers are the most manipulative, but is that a bad thing? Is it bad to be manipulative? I think it’s an “the ends justify the means” situation. (In marketing at least…)
If you’re manipulating people in to do things that hurt them then in your case manipulation is bad, but if you’re manipulating people in to doing things that are neutral or good for them then manipulating people is good or neutral.
No matter what you’re selling, you have to accept that your primary goal is to manipulate people. Your primary goal is to manipulate them in to buying something that they wouldn’t otherwise buy, that’s how and why you get paid.
Dan Kennedy has talked about this a few times. He said that some people aren’t cut out for marketing because they are to squeamish.
The truth is, if you want to make money selling sausage, you have to learn how the sausage is made. If you want to make money marketing you have to learn how to manipulate people. Maybe that’s not a very good metaphor, but the point is that if you want to be truly great at marketing you will have to learn to manipulate people.