Thursday, October 7, 2010

Craft Fear Appeals

In certain circumstances, we can make a sale more likely by arousing in the customer a sense of fear—fear about the consequences of not making the purchase or buying into the course of action we’re proposing. But unless the fear appeal is crafted well, it could end up doing damage to your business.
     Here are some tips on crafting fear appeals:
  • Research at Universidad Pùblica de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain concludes that for certain shoppers in the world, fear sells, but for others, it’s a turnoff. How to tell which is which? Monitor the extent to which your shoppers use fear words themselves.
  • Raise enough fear of a real danger to win the customer’s attention and motivate action, but only to the degree that you’ve a guaranteed way to substantially reduce the risk. Don’t oversell. Researchers at Auburn University find that if the fear becomes too intense or if they don’t see a way out, shoppers become defensive and start thinking about why they don’t need the item you’re wanting to sell them. Or if they do end up making the purchase, chances are they’ll associate negative feelings with your store, making it less likely they’ll come back again.
  • Pair the fear with regret (“I can understand why you’re sorry you didn’t make a purchase like this before the accident”), guilt (“I’m sure you want to do all you can to protect your family”), and/or challenge (“I realize the price is high”). Research at Tulane University regarding health behaviors like using sunscreen and eating high fiber foods concluded that regret, guilt, and challenge increase the rate at which the consumer buys into compliance.
  • Don’t hesitate to use legitimate fear appeals with older consumers. Seniors respond better to fear-laden sales messages than to purely rational sales messages, especially if the fear appeal is combined with appeals to positive emotions, like comfort, contentment, and relief. This is what’s suggested by research at University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and University of California-Irvine. Emotional appeals also help elderly shoppers remember details about sources of sales messages more accurately. All emotions—positive and negative—arouse interest among older consumers, and as people age, they get better at turning the negative into the positive (comfort from achieving control over fear).
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Know How Much Emotion to Deliver
Scare Customers into Buying
Emphasize Emotions with Older Consumers
Sell Self-Esteem After Times of Fear
Use Terror Management Theory for Status Items

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