Fear-mongering: the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.
If you’ve ever taken any course on online marketing, you will inevitably be told that you have to discover your ideal customer’s fears and then strategically sprinkle these fears throughout your copy. It is true that pulling on these psychological levers will get people to act – and to act quickly. The quickly part is by deliberately using scarcity which is also a fear of missing out. However, do you really want to frighten people into action? Do you really want to manipulate them by feeding on their deepest fears and insecurities and then pitching your services or product as the solution that will save them?
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. I’ve gone through numerous online marketing courses and have read thousands of sales copy to have gotten to the point where I’m sick of it. Look, I already have enough fear in my life that is promoted by my own cleaver and mischievous ego – I don’t need outside factors pumping more of this at me.
In order to preserve a sense of peace and calm in my life, I have deliberately cut out local news, limited my exposure to national and international news, and have turned off my cable. I’ve rid myself of toxic, negative friends and have worked exceedingly hard to manage my own internal fears.
However, every time I open up my inbox, I’m pummeled by people telling me that business will remain difficult unless I learn their method, that I’m doing everything wrong and it’s costing me tons of money, that I’m missing out on opportunities that will never be available again, and that without their help, I’m doomed to live a financially, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt life. What?
You probably have heard that people will act quicker when you’re solving an acute problem for them. This is true. Research has shown that people will pay to have a problem solved more so than prevention. However do you need to scare them into unearthing a problem they didn’t even know they had? Are you using fear tactics in your copy to attract customers and clients – the same tactics used to keep your toddler from running out into traffic or to keep your teenager from using heroine.
Perceived or real, fear is the most powerful form of manipulation. By promoting this, you have to ask yourself, what are you really selling?
In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek explores what makes the most innovative companies and inspirational people different from everyone else. One aspect that Sinek reveals is that innovative and inspirational companies create loyal, raving fans rather than just one-off transactional exchanges. He shares, “Manipulations are a perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction, or for any behavior that is only required once or on rare occasions.” Manipulation, especially the most insidious which is fear, does not lead to loyal fans. Even if they buy from you it may be a purely transactional experience. Unless you chose to scare them again into buying your next product or service.
I don’t know about you but I rather have loyal fans – even if I only reach a select amount of people – rather than thousands or tens of thousands of manipulated transactions received through fear-mongering.
I am personally going to review all my sales copy and remove any fear-mongering that I may have inadvertently used due to my marketing training. In making a commitment to myself to manage fear in my own life, I’m also going to make a commitment to refrain from promoting it through my business and respect the intelligence and mental health of my audience.
So what do you think? Are you looking for a loyal tribe or looking to just make a buck? Will you join me in promoting your business without the use of fear and manipulation? Of course it’s up to you but know what you’re doing before you reach out to the hearts and minds of people and yell “Boo!”
Jenn Aubert is a champion for women entrepreneurs and a writer located in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently writing her first book, Women Entrepreneur Revolution on the success traits of women entrepreneurs and redefining the concept of role models due out Spring 2014.
Find me: www.rolemodelswanted.com or www.jennaubert.com
Follow me: @jennaubert
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