A few fear-based marketing tactics are certainly familiar to you. There’s a reason they’ve been lodged in our heads for so long. People will remember and recall commercials depicting fear better than warm or happy ads or ads with no emotions, according to studies.
Fear-based Marketing Is A Contentious Topic
They can either perform exceptionally well or blow up in your face, just like most other marketing strategies. However, studies have repeatedly shown that the strategy is effective. You can utilize them in your adverts to enhance CTR (click-through-rate), or use them quietly in a loss-aversion pitch, among other things. With fear-based marketing, the possibilities are practically endless. Attempting to instill terror in the minds of potential clients, on the other hand, could backfire.
It has the potential to cast a negative light on your company. Fortunately, there are a few methods to use fear in marketing without having it backfire. This method can be implemented without making your potential customers feel horrible about themselves or your company. The trick is to straddle the fine line between neutral feeling and outright fear-mongering. Here’s how to get more attention without getting in over your head.
While the messaging isn’t overtly hostile, the usage of words like “sucks” and “scam” in fear-based marketing elicits unpleasant emotions.
- By depicting a violent sport, the image does as well.
- Overall, the ad instils anxiety in viewers, particularly those who have purchased Facebook likes.
- Try utilising a fear-based approach to achieve increased click-through rates. And also conversions the next time you develop a Facebook or Google AdWords ad.
- To produce terror, use loss aversion.
- Going too far is one of the most common faults found in fear-based marketing initiatives.
- Some people try too hard to stand out and aren’t subtle enough.
- It’s never a good idea to make a potential buyer or user feel horrible about themselves.
Fear drives us to react swiftly. Whether it’s rushing away from a moving object or closing our eyes just as a roller coaster is about to take a massive plummet. Fear is ingrained into our brains, and we respond with a “fight or flight” response.
1. Act Authoritatively Rather Than Alarmistic
Mention the problem that your product or service addresses, but don’t make it seem sensational. Present the facts, which, if persuasive, will speak for themselves. Then offer a solution that includes your product and the value it offers.
2. Instead Of Threats, Offer Words Of Encouragement
Instead of emphasizing the disadvantage of not purchasing your goods, emphasize the value it will provide to the customer. In the insurance industry, the emphasis is frequently focused on what you could lose if you don’t have adequate coverage. When you protect yourself against the dangers you cannot control, a better way could be to focus on how taking the correct risks can take the firm forward.
3. Stick To The Facts And Establish A Trusting Relationship
Of course, present your service or product in the best possible light, but make sure it’s based on facts. Give the potential buyer enough information to make an informed decision, and then follow through on what you promised.
Fear-based marketing, on the other hand, can inspire buyers to act rapidly in response to an advertisement. And it’s employed by marketers across the board. For example, in the insurance sector. Marketing frequently comprises what a person or corporation stands to lose if they do not purchase the appropriate policy.
Marketing’s Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a comparatively recent acronym in fear-based marketing, but it has been around for a long time. Described as the fear of missing out on something that others are doing (such as an intriguing or fun activity). Taken to new heights on social media, with users experiencing increased anxiety and despair as they are continually bombarded with photographs and videos of other people living “perfect” lives and participating in things they wish they could be a part of. FOMO-based marketing isn’t all that different from fear-based marketing. While the “risk” in FOMO marketing is frequently more general and far less severe, the tactics are nearly identical, with most FOMO advertising suggesting something like, “If you buy x right now, you’ll be so much happier,” or “If you don’t buy x right now, you’ll never find true happiness.”
Is it effective?
The answer, like so many other aspects of marketing, is that it depends!
The following strategies and methods must be employed to be effective:
- in the proper manner
- at the appropriate time
- focusing on the correct audience
The Communication Needs To Be Convincing And Make The Danger Feel Real
There were conflicting results in a study of 16 studies that looked at the effectiveness of fear-based messaging in reducing substance misuse. Eight researchers found that using fear tactics to improve the likelihood of people seeking help for substance misuse difficulties had beneficial results.
While these findings are promising, four studies found that the fear-based message technique had the reverse effect, with fewer calls to tobacco “quitlines” being made.
These varied results emphasize the need to completely comprehending your target audience, the context in which they are experiencing your message, and any and all potential dangers or negative repercussions that may arise from your positive motives.
Fear-Based Marketing Scare Tactics And Your Business On The Internet: The Brain of the Business
What do politicians, advertisers, and foolish children have in common on Halloween?
They’re all aware that fear has a significant impact on human conduct. There are a lot of scary circumstances in life, and marketers spend much time trying to scare us into acquiring their goods and services.
Fear is a powerful influencer, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a successful sales and marketing tactic. When deciding whether to employ marketing fear-mongering to sell a product or service, there are a few considerations you should ask yourself as a small business owner:
1. What Makes Fear Such A Powerful Sales Tool?
There’s no denying that fear-based arguments have a strong influence on people’s views, intentions, and conduct. But why is terror such a powerful sales strategy?
The reason for this can be traced back to ancient psychological theories. The basic story goes like this: because our forefathers were frequently confronted with physical threats, and we are only here today because they were truly successful in solving the problem of self-protection, human beings developed self-protective strategies that continue to influence our actions and decisions.
Increased safety in numbers is one self-protection approach applicable to our issue. Separation means we’re vulnerable to predators in our reptile brains. Salespeople know how to activate that region of our brain by convincing us that specific things can help us avoid social exclusion, such as due to poor cleanliness. As a result, we witness antiperspirant as well as toothpaste advertisements convincing us that if we don’t buy this product, our colleagues and potential relationships will forsake us. These social proof techniques are effective, but are they right for your service or product?
2. Is It Appropriate To Use Fear As A Selling Tactic For My Service Or Product?
Given the foregoing, it’s easy to see which businesses are best suited to employing scare tactics to market. Scare techniques are the butter and bread of fear-based marketing in certain businesses, such as insurance and public health. While it’s difficult to picture insurance sales without mentioning the awful things that need to be insured against, fear techniques are more common in other industries. So, do you think you should go?
The option to utilize fear to promote your service or product ultimately boils down to your underlying values.
Do you want your business to be associated with such tactics?
Most likely not. And there is nothing wrong with carefully informing customers how they can avoid troubles down the road if you’re selling a product or service that you honestly believe can help them.
Consider The Following Suggestions For Selling With Fear:
Fear can assist prospective consumers in understanding the penalty of inaction. Future customers are frequently so enamored with the established order that they are blind to how terribly things are going. Assume you’re a virtual assistant who sells to small enterprises. Small business owners who are overwhelmed are your perfect clientele for fear-based marketing.
Should you add to their sense of helplessness by telling them that if they don’t hire you, their business will fail? Should you merely inquire, “How long can you keep this up?” Without raising their blood pressure, you may help clients understand the cost of inaction.
Emphasize The Personal Ramifications
This is most effective if you have concrete examples of potential customers who elected not to use your products but came to regret their decision. Maybe they assumed your pet trimming services were too pricey until they had to pay for a vet appointment to have an ingrown toenail removed off their adorable puppy. Gently remind them of what could happen if they don’t buy, but without being overly dramatic.
Emphasize The Dangers They Face
People respond more passionately when they believe they are going to lose anything because of loss aversion. Outline what your potential client’s firm will lose if they don’t work with you.
Here are a few more ideas to help you develop a fear-based marketing strategy: Appeals are successful, according to research, especially when they incorporate advice for one-time-only (rather than recurrent) behaviors and a bigger number of women in the intended audience. They also verified previous findings that fear pleas work best when they provide instructions on how to escape the danger (e.g., get the vaccine, use a condom).
Is There A Chance Of A Backlash If I Exploit Fear To Sell Something?
You are fixing an issue for your clients with whatever product or service you are selling. However, keep in mind that there are two aspects to every situation. You can concentrate on the thoughts and feelings people have when they have an issue, or you can concentrate on the consequences of their problem under consideration. If you don’t want to be connected with bad thoughts in your customers’ minds, your advertising should emphasize both sides.
It takes a certain kind of delicacy to use fear-based marketing scare tactics to sell. You run the danger of retaliation if you go too negative. Never make exaggerated assertions regarding the risks and consequences of not purchasing from you. You risk alienating clients and future clients, who will tarnish your brand on social media before you know it.
Also, there’s a narrow line between showing losses and shaming someone into taking an offer. When we encounter a particularly unpleasant statement in an opt-in box on a webpage, this is the first thing that springs to mind.
Advertising’s Phobia Factor
When it comes to successful commercials, experts recently took a closer look at what makes us and the audience tick. Fear has one of the most important roles in persuasive advertising, which both surprised and did not surprise us.
So, we decided to look more closely at where this dread comes from, what forms of fear advertisement we’re exposed to, and what types of fear advertising we’re exposed to; each with some great terrifying instances, of course.
Fear Culture And Fear Appeal
Where does this dread come from, and why does an afraid commercial work so well?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Culture of Fear if you’ve taken a high school history class. Though fear culture is usually associated with politics (think of Trump’s reelection campaign statements), it plays a significant influence in our daily lives, and manufacturers have capitalized on it through Fear Appeal.
What Is Fear Appeal Advertising Exactly?
Fear appeal advertising is based on a persuasion message that highlights the potential hazards and harm that will befall people (in this case, the audience) if they do not follow the message’s suggestions.
Fear Appeal commercials are effective in most situations, and according to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, there are no instances where fear-based advertising backfires and results in unfavorable effects.
But that doesn’t mean you can terrorize your audience whenever you want.
The Age of Propaganda, written by two researchers Pratkanis and Aronson, hypothesized that fear-based advertising is most effective when it fits all three of these criteria:
- When the advertisement arouses dread or concern
- When it provides practical strategies for overcoming fear
- When the suggested approach for conquering the fear is simple to implement.
We wanted to identify a few sorts of fear-based advertising and pair them with visual representations now that we know what Fear Appeal is. Let’s get right in and get intimidated into buying stuff.
The Fear Of Risk
The Dread of Risk is the first and most well-known fear appeal strategy. This strategy is based on the premise that if you do not pay attention to the message in the advertisement and perform the advised action, your life will suffer.
The Daisy Girl campaign was one of the most well-known examples of this. In the 1964 presidential election in the United States, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater ran on a right-wing platform, promising to slash social services and use military force if necessary. His campaign even implied that he would be willing to deploy nuclear weapons. So, in his campaign ad, Democratic candidate Lyndon B. Johnson used this by indicating that Goldwater would willfully conduct a nuclear war, which would have the most devastating consequences of all.
The Daisy Girl campaign was created to use Goldwater’s pro-war stance and ideas about willingly utilizing nuclear weapons in order to scare the public into voting against him.
Tony Schwartz of Doyle Dane Bernbach produced the extremely contentious Daisy Girl campaign, which was not only a key role in Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater but also marked a significant turning point in political advertising.
Propaganda For War
Apart from the Daisy Girl campaign, War Propaganda posters are some of the most well-known instances of fear of risk advertisements. One of the most successful ways to make fear-based commercials work, as noted above, is to provide a particular strategy to overcome the fear.
Many of these advertisements used terror to entice and persuade viewers to purchase war bonds. People felt that they could aid the war effort and prevent anything horrible from happening by purchasing war bonds, which provided them a “sense of purpose” and allowed them to feel like they could contribute even if they couldn’t join the military directly.
Clearly, a fear of risk advertisement, since the man is afraid to fly due to discrimination, it illuminates the anxiety by providing a friendly and accepting environment (Jordan Airlines).
Despite the fact that the goal of all of these ads was to get the audience to perform a specific action that would benefit the advertiser, not all fear-based ads inspire viewers to take a monetized action.
Dreams Of Risk, But In A Different Way
This is exactly the case with these public safety and health advertisements!
These commercials aren’t trying to sell you a product; instead, they’re intended to make you more aware of the dangers of specific items in your daily life.
FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT) is a term used to describe the fear of missing out on something. Nothing motivates people to act like the dread of missing out, even if they’re already “in for the night” and snuggled up in their pajamas. Advertisers are fully aware of this sensation and are aware that FOMO is one of the most persuasive advertising methods for their target customers.
We see this feeling of fear out in advertising style nearly everywhere, whether that’s online or on the street. Take, for instance, the fashion industry and its mini-seasons. When fashion advertising is linked with the messaging “Get the Hottest Trends,” it’s meant to make people feel like they’re going out of style, forcing them to keep up and buy the latest designs.
Take, for example, this Samsung commercial, which takes the literal concept of “don’t miss out” and applies it to the new Samsung washing machine.
An advertisement can instill fear of missing out in their audience by simply informing them of the remaining stock of a product they’ve been considering purchasing, or by employing language such as “time is running out!” and “don’t miss out.”
So, when it comes to fear appeal advertising’s heavy hitters, Dread of Risk and Fear of Missing Out are two of the most powerful. It doesn’t stop there, though. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies we don’t see every day.
The Territory Of Change
This strategy seeks to instill anxiety that if something is not done/achieved/changed, the world would be a far worse place as a result. These ads usually focus on big-picture issues such as climate change. As in this commercial for the CO2 Act.
It asks that parents try to leave a prosperous future, and it instills fear in the younger audience in order to urge them to begin making changes now in order to help prevent any further damage to the world.
The Fear Of Failure
This strategy is simple and tries to make the audience feel as if they will fail or be a failure if they do not listen to and act on the advertisement’s message.
This is one of the most uncommon forms of advertising, and we don’t see it very often unless we’re a parent, unemployed, or a student. A nice example is this Grammarly commercial.
Though this commercial is geared just at students, Grammarly also offers résumé, professional writing, and creative writing advertising aimed at convincing the audience that their writing talent isn’t up to par without Grammarly, and that failure is a distinct possibility.
Last But Not Least…Threat Tactic?
We came across this very old, humorous Wilkin Coffee commercial when scouring the internet for some fascinating advertising examples. It uses threat tactics to “scare” its viewers into buying their coffee. Though we know this isn’t the case, we thought it was amusing and would end on a lighter note.
A coffee firm in Washington, D.C. approached Jim Henson in 1957 and asked him to create advertising for Wilkins Coffee.
The Muppet commercials had to be lightning-fast because the local stations only had ten seconds for station identification. There were eight seconds for the commercial pitch including two seconds for a product shot. The advertisement featured the happy Wilkins (an original Kermit the Frog concept) and the grumpy Watkins.
Wilkins frequently does major injury to Wontkins in these commercials because Wontkins does not enjoy Wilkins Coffee. “Terrible things just tend to happen to those who don’t consume alcohol Wilkins,” these amusing ads say.