People respond to many different motivators, and one of them is fear. Will frightening potential customers be good for your business, or will it turn them off?
While fear is not an uplifting or positive motivation, it can be effective. Consider how many people fail to put together the supplies they will need during a hurricane or other disaster, until a disaster appears to be imminent. The realization of what can happen if they are not prepared creates the urgency needed to act.
If you have a product or service that helps people deal with something they fear, you can speak to the fear or you can speak to the positive results of handling the situation proactively. For example, if you teach self defense, you can try to scare people with the idea that there are “boogeymen” hiding around every corner, and they need to know how to protect themselves. Or, you can focus on how confident and strong they will be when they know that they can handle any threat to their safety.
Those may seem like the same thing, but they’re not. One says, “if you don’t do this, bad things will happen to you” and the other says, “if you do this, good things will happen.” After all, mastering self defense isn’t wasted even if you never have to directly use the techniques. Just knowing that you can defend yourself brings confidence and peace of mind.
Think about other products that sell safety, health, or financial protection. Volvo runs advertisements talking about the feeling of safety you get because their cars include several important safety features. The message? Buy this car and you and your family will be safe. Another car manufacturer ran television ads a few years ago in which customers talked about having accidents where their air bags deployed and saved their lives (at least, in their opinions). The implication was clearly that if they had not been in this car, the outcome would have been different. Their message? Buy this car or die.
Most companies offering retirement investments have chosen the positive angle. They show retirees traveling the world and having the freedom to live as they wish. A recent survey showed that a large percentage of women fear becoming bag ladies, but would a commercial depicting a woman living on the streets because she failed to buy a particular mutual fund have the desired effect? Probably not. Even one company that uses fear to sell investments includes humor and a positive spin. Their ads show couples who have failed to plan for retirement facing the “800-pound gorilla in the room,” and letting them know it is not too late to plan for successful futures.
What do your customers fear? Physical danger? Financial loss? Lawsuits? Embarrassment? Health problems? How can you help them avoid the thing they fear, and gain confidence and peace of mind?
And to what motivator will they respond–the good things that happen when they buy, or a “buy this or die” message?