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AMiable Solution #450: Four Tips for Making Your Fear-Based Marketing More Effective

Are you employing the “fear” tactic correctly?

Many of us are taught to focus on people’s fear in our marketing. Fear of losing money. Fear of looking like a fool. Fear of getting hurt or of being taken advantage of.

This tactic can have great benefits. It can inspire prospects to take action, to make purchases based on their fear of avoiding something bad or missing something good. But it can create negative feelings toward your company if not done well.

Moreover, fear marketing isn’t for everyone. In fact, Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D., contributors to Psychology Today, say that for fear-based messages to have any effect, they have to “address issues that instill critical amounts of fear and be targeted to those who are the most susceptible to the risk.”

In other words, your marketing campaign needs to be hyper-targeted.

In addition, your copy should

  • Address the prospect’s pain points. What problem will your product or service solve? Subtlety works great here. Suggesting that a prospect can do “better” in a certain area, for example, stirs up concern without taking things too far.

  • Take customers to the threshold of fear, but not screaming past it. According to Sreenivasan and Weinberger, “once a moderate amount of fear is conveyed, there is no further benefit in adding more fear.” In fact, that’s where detriment actually comes in in the form of resentment, distrust, etc.

  • Impart hope. Once you address the problem, make it clear that hope–a solution–is possible. Let prospects know that there’s a recommended action they can take to get a positive result. Creating fear without an upside won’t work.

Fear marketing doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Gentle hints at a prospect’s deficiencies or problem areas AND the promise of a positive outcome could be all it takes to get your buyers’ attention and inspire them to respond.

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