You probably don’t think about termites all that often. I know I don’t. However, on the drive home last week I heard a Terminix radio ad stating that I have a 3 times greater chance of my home getting infested with termites in Austin (where I live) than in other cities.
Terminix’s advertisement triggered my imagination and sent me thinking about the worse case scenarios: Imagine your house destroyed from the inside by nasty little termites. You could face thousands of dollars in repair costs. Ouch!
When to Use Fear Marketing
Some products and services lend themselves to fear marketing better than others. You probably wouldn’t get termite pest control if you weren’t afraid of not preventing trouble. You’d skip the life insurance premiums or the flood insurance if you weren’t at least a little afraid of the unimaginable.
Consider your audience and product before firing off your initial salvo of fear marketing. You could use fear marketing to drive people to action in multiple areas of disaster prevention or mitigation:
- untimely death
- health and illness
- accidents (work or automobile)
- home ownership
- extended warranties
There is an opportunity to leverage fear marketing to your advantage anytime a customer risks losing money, time, property, or life.
When Not to Use Fear Marketing
If your products will make people happy, please don’t dwell on the negative! Focus on all the positive things that will result from purchasing your product. Don’t overshadow your uplifting company and product with negative overtones of doom and gloom.
Not all people will respond to marketing by fear. You may want to balance any fear campaign with an opposite approach highlighting the positive outcomes. A balanced strategy will capture a broader, more diverse group of potential customers.
Fear Marketing Guidelines
Nedra Weinreich gives us several points to make our fear marketing effective:
- Make sure the portrayed consequence of not taking action is severe, but not exaggerated.
- Make the audience feel that the problem is relevant to them.
- Provide a specific action that the audience can take to prevent the portrayed consequence from happening.
- Ensure that the audience believes that the proposed solution is effective in preventing the consequence.
- Portray the solution as something that the audience can easily do.
Provide the Happy Ending
You need to paint a picture for your potential customers that compels them to action. You want them to visualize themselves with a happy ending because they purchased your product. Your product becomes a security blanket that helps the customer sleep at night without the fear of a looming disaster.