Fear. It’s What’s For Dinner
If we don’t vote for Johnson we will die? Little dramatic, don’t you think?
But Dino, I hear you’re saying.
Something blatantly fear mongering like this wouldn’t fly today, would it?
Political ads, safety ads, sure…they’ll use fear.
But not to buy products?
Oh yeah? Watch this.
Fear is a powerful motivator and advertisers tap into this every chance they get.
Advertisers have even devised a formula to better scare you into buying. Here it is.
4 Ingredients of Fear Pie
- Scare the hell out of ’em.
- Offer a solution
- Recommend action that is perceived as effective
- Make sure the target believes s/he can perform the action
Go back and look at that Lysol ad again. You will notice they followed the Fear Pie recipe to the letter.
A word of caution if you plan on using fear in your next campaign.
Fear can paralyze so don’t over do it. You want the public to buy, not turn to stone.
It’s best if fear-appeal is specific AND widely recognizable.
We’ll use an example from Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman. (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Our Sunny Dayz Sunscreen SPF500 can protect you and your loved ones from harmful UV rays, which can dry out and damage your skin and cause cancer.
This is specific AND widely recognizable.
Deterge-Sure, a detergent that protects clothing against UV damage is specific but it’s NOT a common concern (widely recognizable).
Another “fear rule” you want to follow is not to invent fears but tap into existing ones. Much easier that way.
Very common way of using fear to motivate a consumer into action is by using phrases such as “limited time offer”, “one day sale”, “good while supplies last” and so on.
In such cases, the advertisers are taping into the fear of loss (missing out on a “good” deal”) and scarcity principle (if I don’t buy now they will run out).
I recommend these books for further research.
(Amazon Affiliate Links)
Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is quick, easy, jam packed with great info.
The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille is in depth, well researched, head and shoulders above the other books in the similar vain.
Buyology by Martin Lindstrom Like the story of Goldilocks, this one is neither too quick nor too in depth but it’s just right for anyone who wants to have a really practical understanding of what motivates buyers. It rounds out the set nicely.