Empowerment Techniques General Marketing Good Content Social Media

Time for scare tactics to become scarce

Diabetes affects your heart, so take this drug to decrease your odds of dying. Identity theft is right around the corner. Coffee is good for you…wait, bad for you…uh, good for you. (Repeat for eggs, coconut oil, etc.)

We are deluged daily with “scary” information—much of it designed to goad you into buying a particular product or service to save yourself from ill effects and scary outcomes. “Pushing on the bruise” and “hitting pain points” are two time-honored sales tactics to drive revenues.

Well, many of us are sick of it—to the point of ignoring the advice and saying, “What the hell, do what’s fun, less troublesome, and expedient; let the consequences be damned.”

Every place we go, every time we look at the news, every time we open emails—boom—there are the bad news gremlins waiting to ruin our day.

This brings up three especially important points, among many others:

  1. Sales campaigns that attempt to scare, intimidate, and goad people into buying increasingly will backfire. As more people tire of the constant negative barrage, they will undoubtedly respond favorably to positive messaging that encourages and reassures. While there always will be a market for traditional pain point sales, its clout will shrink while pushback grows. Bottom line to marketers and salespeople: Look for ways to reframe messaging into a positive sphere (or wonder why “tried and true” methods aren’t working as well as they once did);
  2. Many people who should respond to warnings will do just the opposite—and suffer the consequences. The more I see big pharma push the link between diabetes and heart disease, a blatant current scare tactic to sell more drugs, the more I want to down a whole cherry pie followed by a bag of potato chips. As a Type 2 diabetic for years, I’ve always known that the affliction can drive heart disease; and you won’t see me downing the cherry pie or bag of chips because of that and many other legitimate health-threatening consequences. But, I sure as hell think about it more—and rationalize bad behaviors using the “go full tilt boogie till you drop” philosophy.
  3. A large number of people already have stopped watching the news and are avoiding other potential negativity-filled forums because they’re fed up. As a result, they are missing valuable, important intel right along with all the gloom-and-doom crap.

To all the bloggers, social and mainstream media purveyors and participants, advertisers, and all others dedicated to peddling negative crap: Quit scaring people; start supporting them with constructive, positive messaging. Otherwise, slowly but surely, you will see your influence diminish and your negative verbiage backfire.


Mark Lusky, President, Mark Lusky Communications (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. READ BIO

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