Fear is an effective motivator. It forces you to act quickly, whether that’s hiding under a blanket during a scary Halloween movie, closing your eyes before a big roller coaster drop, or running away from a potential threat. Without thinking twice, our brains decide on a “fight or flight” response. But fear-based marketing should never be a part of your strategy.
When it comes to fear-based marketing, customers are motivated to take quick action in response to an advertisement, and it’s become a popular tactic. We have all received one of those annoying and spammy emails or phone calls. Whether it regards your car’s extended warranty, stating it’s your last chance to opt into some amazing credit card offer, or you’ll miss the opportunity to earn double points, you’re being targeted — and put to the test. Will fear compel you to opt-in?
Fear Of The Unknown
Most of these fear-based marketing tactics prey on jitters of what could potentially go wrong if you don’t purchase the service or product. While tactics like the extended warranty hoax are effective at driving up sales in the short term, they are unethical and don’t fair well in the long term, especially if this is the only marketing tactic utilized. While you can use fear to get customers to sign up, that initial fear won’t guarantee they stay.
Fear Of Missing Out
Other fear-based marketing strategies utilize tactics to take advantage of concerns over missing out. As seen in the credit card marketing attempt, consumers are tricked into signing up, fearing that they will miss out on a particular perk or offer if they let the opportunity pass them up. However, this is only effective in the short term. What happens once customers realize they may not have missed out on much if they hadn’t enrolled or made the purchase?
While fear-based marketing may lead to some initial hopeful results, you miss out on a lasting relationship with the customer as they slowly disengage, cancel, ghost, or regret signing up. Worst of all, they may feel tricked and manipulated.
Instead, an alternative approach to snag customers and retain them for both the short term and long term is by creating lasting relationships through authenticity and offering real value. Have you considered a newsletter to boost engagement? Do you run any promotions or contests? What about social media? Studies have shown that over half of the population uses social media, making it a great way to stay top-of-mind to clients and prospects. The best way to retain customers is with consistent and compelling content.
So, instead of giving your customers a fright just for a short-term spike in sales, only to have them run away a few weeks or months down the road, try increasing your engagement with your audience, offer encouragement instead of threats, and build a relationship built upon trust! Remember, there’s a big difference between instilling a sense of urgency and fear. After all, the Halloween haunted houses this season are spooky enough!