The Ethics Of Triggering Fear In Your Persuasive Marketing

Question:  How can it be ethical for you to drive sales into your business by triggering fear in people through your marketing?

Answer:  When thinking about the ethics of using fear in your persuasive marketing, it can be a challenge to accept that your goals can actually be aligned with your customer’s desires…and their well being.

What you need to remember is this: you need a different lens to see the mutual benefit of triggering fear in your prospects.

Why’s that important? Because it’s never unethical to achieve a win-win with your customers.

My clients sometimes ask how they can use persuasive marketing in their business without being manipulative or unethical. The question about using fear is very similar to that.

I talk about all this an in-depth, pro-level training I provide called: How To Use the 5 Universal Triggers To Influence Your Prospects To Do What You Want.

Now, in that training, one of the universal triggers is the trigger of fear.

In the training I indicate that fear is considered to be one of the negative triggers because there are positive triggers like love, and pride, and gain…while the negative triggers are fear and shame.

Fear As An Effective Trigger

So, the concern is, “If fear is actually considered to be a negative trigger, how is it okay for me to use that in my business? Am I not just hurting people if I’m creating fear in them?”

At the core, these are the main concerns:

  • How can I feel good about myself if I’m intentionally making people afraid?
  • They weren’t afraid before they came across my marketing, and after they came across my marketing they were afraid.
  • How can that be an okay thing?

Your confidence level in your business is important, so getting over these reservations is super important for your marketing success.

If you’re not there yet, no worries…you will be once you bring this home.

I should know. You see, this was something I was very sensitive towards when I first entered into the world of marketing.

That’s because I wasn’t raised to make people afraid, or to control them or hurt them.

I was taught to love people, and be kind to people…so I was very sensitive to this stuff.

Letting Go Of The Fear Of Fear

So how can you get over this hang up? Well, first let’s assume that your product or service really helps people.

You’re not scamming anyone or ripping them off. When you make the claim that your product does “x”, that’s exactly what it does.

NOTE: If your intention is to scam others, then it’s probably best if you go and listen to someone else. I’m only really interested in people with real helpful products and services.

Okay. With that in place, the answer about this fear thing is, you owe it to people to scare them. Yes, you read that right, you owe it to your prospects to scare them.

Here’s why: When your product is good, then there are undesirable things your prospects want to avoid that your product’s effectiveness will help them to avoid.

If your prospects aren’t scared enough to realize your product will help them avoid those undesirable things, then both you and your prospect are losing out.

Both parties lose.

And that sucks.

Let ’Em Give In To Their Desires

People have many desires, many of which are bubbling around deep down…some more attended to than others.

Those desires are already pre-programmed inside the prospect at the very moment they come across your marketing and become a potential customer.

These desires are powerful, because they can instinctually trigger prospects into action.

These desires can be the building blocks behind your new business relationship with the prospect.

So if your product or service can help them avoid a pain they want to avoid, you’re on your way to a mutually beneficial relationship with your prospect.

Let’s say they desire to be healthy in their body, and your product can help them avoid being unhealthy.

This healthful desire is mixed in with every other desire that’s present in their life.

As a result, they might not actually be attending to it as much as they could or should be.

Or worse, they might not be aware of how they can attend to it.

The Role Of Fear In Your Marketing

So when your marketing comes along, it draws their attention primarily to their desire to be healthy, but while explicitly warning them:

“Look, you need to understand that you could be hurt, you could experience pain, you could end up not getting what you desire for reason A, reason B and reason C.”

Instantly, when they hear that in your marketing, they’ll become afraid.

They’ll think, “Oh no! There’s something I want and now you’re telling me I might not get it? It’s very possible I might not get that or it’s probable that I won’t get it.”

Ultimately, this thought process creates fear because the prospect feels the very real possibility that, “I’m not going to get what I desire.”

The Ethical Road To A Win-Win

Now that they’re experiencing this fear, it would be unethical to just leave them there in that state.

That’s why it’s very important that you don’t just make them afraid.

To be really effective and persuasive, what you’re really doing is saying, “There is something you desire and it’s possible you won’t get it…

…but with my product or service, the likelihood that you’ll get what you want, that you’ll avoid that fearful thing we were just talking about…

that likelihood is very high if you get my product and service. When you consume my product or service, it’s very likely that that fear we were just establishing will go away.”

So that’s the key…

You’re never just making someone afraid.

You’re drawing attention to their desire, and saying, “Look, you might not get what you desire because of this or that. But with my product/service, it’s likelier that you’ll get what you want.”

You’re using their fear to draw attention to what they truly want, then making it crystal clear to them that what they want is at risk unless they have your product or service.

So, as crazy as it might sound, it is actually ethical for you to drive sales through using fear in marketing.

Why? Because at the end of the day, you’re honestly serving people by helping them see how they can avoid pain and get what they want.

In fact, drawing attention to their fear and then showing them how they can avoid that fear through your product or service…well, that could actually be one of the most ethical things your marketing could possibly do for your prospect in the long run.

Alleviate Fear, And Sales Will Follow

So don’t be afraid to try to incorporate fear into your own marketing efforts, otherwise you might be missing out on capturing your prospects’ full attention.

(See what I did right there? Used a little persuasive fear of my own! :))

So what about you? How do you use fear in your marketing? How does it motivate your prospects to help themselves by consuming your product or service?

Let us know in the comments below…so we can all become better marketers!