A Fantastic Marketing Tool

Fear is a fantastic marketing tool, which is why we can’t turn on the television or open a newspaper without seeing it at work.

Daniel Gardner, The Science of Fear

Most good marketing has some amount of fear-mongering built right into it.

When Apple releases a new phone, implicit in the messaging is this fear: Until you upgrade, you’ve no longer got the best, fastest, latest device.

When Tesla announces its latest autonomous driving update, implicit in the messaging is this fear: The future is happening now, & it’s moving on without you.

The key to recognizing how fear can be an effective ingredient in your marketing is in first understanding who you are trying to serve.

For Apple, the vast majority of people don’t respond to this particular fear. For Tesla, many are petrified of a future where our cars drive us around. But for the right person, the person who Apple & Tesla exist to serve - the early adopters & the loudest sneezers - these are real fears that inspire action.

When many of us first found CrossFit, implicit in their messaging was this fear: You’re wasting time on an ineffective fitness regime.

This was enough to inspire us to take the steps necessary to get closer to the brand.

It’s not that these companies put fear at the forefront. It simply means they’ve done the hard work of understanding the beliefs & the aspirations of their tribe. They know what success looks like for them, as well as what it means if they fail. They’ve figured out how to fold a full range of aspirations & emotions into how they talk about the products & services they offer.

Don’t hesitate to think deeply about the fears of those you seek to serve. Figuring out the right way to incorporate them into your marketing could be the key to inspiring them to take the first steps closer to you.

Patrick Cummings