In my book ‘Psychology in Marketing and Sales’, I talk about the power of fear and how it can be used to generate sales - but before we answer the question as to whether you should sell based on fear, let's first understand what we mean by the word fear itself.
Fear probably sounds worse than it is and we aren't talking about scare tactics, threats or anything unethical (sorry horror movie fans - this isn't’ for you!). Fear is about demonstrating what somebody might be missing or losing out on if they don't have your product or service. An example of this could be how you can avoid becoming unhealthy or ill by buying a fantastic range of branded healthy foods.
This contrasts to selling products based on the positive benefits. Using the last example you could promote the brand of health foods by saying ‘get fit, be healthy and have a great active life’ by buying this great brand of healthy foods.
Should you sell based on fear?
When it comes to promoting the benefits of your product or service, selling based on fear has been proven to be more successful but if it isn't done correctly then it could backfire and damage a brand reputation or least be seen as being too negative.
Here are some examples of effective positive and fear-based messages for different types of businesses. How do you feel when you read the two versions? Do the different statements impact the way you feel differently?
Enjoy a happy retirement by investing in a pension now
Don’t lose out on a happy retirement with limited money to live on, invest in a pension now
Protect your PC from viruses with antivirus software
Avoid losing data and precious time recovering your PC with antivirus software
Beat the queues with fast-pass
Make sure you don’t waste hours queuing up. Grab your fast-pass now
There are benefits to using both styles and a mixture of both is usually the best option.
Selling based on fear is used more widely than you might think, from the shortage of seats left when booking a flight (only 2 seats left, don’t miss out!) to pensions, investments and car breakdown cover (don’t get stranded on your own with your car broken down…) to the range of every day offers you see telling you that if you don’t take advantage of the offer in the next 2 hours then you will miss out.
In fact, there has even become a widely used term we now use to describe one of our biggest fears - FOMO (fear of missing out).
The next time you work on your marketing, consider how you can develop your messaging and the benefits by pointing out both what’s great about what you offer AND what your potential customer could be missing out on.
If you would like to learn more about how to promote your products and services based on the way the human mind works then why not grab a copy of my very affordable book Psychology in Marketing and Sales - but be quick, it’s so good I might have to put the price up soon! 😃
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The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing expert and book author Darren Hignett.