Fear Based Marketing

So many of the Internet Marketing techniques that are promoted these days are fear based.

Countdown timers, limited time offers, good for one-day-only, this video is being pulled soon, price increase tomorrow, etc. All these are basically ways to play upon a potential customer’s fear of missing out, to stimulate them into purchasing a product before they’re ready to do so.

Fear is also used as a way to suggest that, if you don’t purchase the product, all sorts of bad things will happen to you. You won’t make a million in 30 days, you won’t be able to quit your day job, people won’t like you, etc.

To a certain extent, this is unavoidable. If you present proof of success, many people will buy out of a fear that they cannot succeed without your help. But there’s a difference between fear coming up in people because of who they are, and a marketer deliberately instilling fear as a way to convert a potential customer.

What sort of marketer do you want to be? Sure, it’s effective to instill fear, in terms of selling products.

But most of the products bought out of fear go unused. How many Internet Marketing products have you bought that you never used, just because you felt you’d lose out if you didn’t buy them? How many ebooks are on your hard drive, filled with techniques you’ve never used?

Products that get used are ones bought from confidence. People who get to research the product, discuss it with others who have bought it, and come up with a plan for using it, tend to actually use the product. Those are also the products that will succeed for customers. At least that’s been my experience with Internet Marketing related products.

So what’s your measure of success as an online marketer? Is it how much you make, or how many of your customers succeed?

3 Replies to “Fear Based Marketing”

  1. Your post suggests that fear of loss is a bad thing and that using the “tactic” is a morally wrong thing to do because it isn’t looking out for your prospect.
    At least, that’s what I get out of it.

    It’s the core of discussion when you talk to people who say “I could never be in sales…I have a concious.”

    Give someone a choice of waiting to purchase (and forget) vs. giving someone motivation to “buy now…or else” ensures that your sales will decrease.

    Installing fear of loss is not a bad thing unless it’s done under false pretenses.

    For example. If you say you are going to limit the amount of sales at a particular price, make sure that you stick to it. To me it’s all about integrity. I see nothing wrong with creating urgency.

    How do you suggest to create urgency without instilling some sort of fear of loss?

    Recently, I polled my customers in my support forum because I was considering opening up more membership slots for my online service. I opened up my Promo Code Software to 300 charter members because I thought that was all I could handle. It was a combination of “fear of loss” and a legitimate reason to do so.

    What I found is that I have a a very low support ticket ratio with the members I have. So I posed the question to my customers….”should I increase the amount of lifetime memberships or should I stick with my original 300 before I go to a monthly fee based membership?”

    Well, surprisingly enough, more than 60 percent said I should stick with my original plan.

    It all boils down to trust in my eyes. Many of my customers purchased because the KNEW that they would pay more in the future unless the made a decision NOW….

    They want me to stick to that.

    To me…if you build trust AND have a solid reason behind the limited time offer…it’s very ethical…and a good way to do business.

  2. [quote post=”558″]if you build trust AND have a solid reason behind the limited time offer[/quote]

    That’s the key…if you have a solid reason behind the limited time offer. There are very good reasons to offer an initially low price that goes up. For new membership sites, it’s helpful to have that core of early adopters for newcomers to interact with, for example. A deal early on stimulates that.

    It’s the false pretenses marketing that I object to, and the use of fear as a motivator when there isn’t a good reason.

    Examples are the Javascript timer countdown offers (e.g. “Offer good for the next 13 minutes only”), the use of server side scripting to create an artificial deadline of tomorrow, the artificial raising of prices to unreasonable levels after the first day or two just to motivate people to buy early.

    In that last example, offering a deal early on is a good technique, but that’s been twisted into offering something for the regular price for a couple of days, calling it a deal, and then raising the price to more than any reasonable person would pay for it later.

    The prime difference for me is that the people using what I’d call unethical tactics are focused on getting money into their pocket as quickly as possible, while the others are focused on balancing what’s right for their customers with their own need to make a profit.

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