Fear has never been more prevalent in my life than in the COVID 19 crisis we face right now. Although it’s before my time, the world has not seen this kind of fear since World War II. Fear is a very powerful motivator and will cause people to do things that are not always rational. In the current crisis, the fear of the disease has people afraid to come near each other. Afraid to leave their house. The fear has paralyzed much of our society. It is amazing to me how quickly we went from everything being normal to fear controlling every move we make. It just proves how powerful fear can be to shape people’s actions. For this article, we will talk about fear as it affects business and marketing.
In business, fear can be both positive and negative. On the negative side, fear can get in the way of a salesperson picking up the phone to make a prospect call. It is not unusual for a new salesperson to find all sorts of ways to spend their time all day long, avoiding the one thing that will most lead to their success; picking up the phone to talk to a stranger. Fear of speaking in public can get in the way of a viable marketing strategy to present your products to a group. The fear of losing money will stop business owners from spending money on marketing, expansion, etc. even if spending that money could lead to potential profits. The fear-of-loss is often more powerful than the potential benefit of gain.
However, that same concept can be used to your advantage in marketing.
It is a proven fact that the fear-of-loss is more powerful than the promise-of-gain. So why not use that to your advantage?
Let me give you an example of how fear-of-loss can be used in marketing copy.
What do you think is more powerful?
I can tell you that the first one will pull three times better than the second one. The promise of gain is excellent, but for many, a big gain is a pipe dream. Yes, they would like it, but they don’t necessarily believe it is possible. However, no one wants anything taken away from them. No one wants to lose their hard-earned money.
Here’s another way to get around fear in business. Most salespeople, especially new ones, are afraid of rejection. They’re so afraid, that they won’t even pick up the phone. Instead of telling salespeople that they have to make so many phone calls to get so many sales or appointments every day, why not change the goal around a little? How about telling them they need to find ten people who have no interest in their product? It’s a subtle difference, but since we all know that most people are not going to be interested in our product no matter how good it is, looking for those people who have no interest has a much higher chance of success. And then, the sales rep will occasionally stumble across someone who does have interest.
Another way I deal with fear is to accept the worst-case scenario. For instance, we are in a major financial crisis right now with COVID19. It is scary, and if you’re not careful, you can let that fear stop you from doing anything productive. Many business owners have just shut down and curled up in a ball, hoping that somehow things will magically change in the future.
I’ve chosen to handle it differently. First of all, we did not shut down but instead modified our approach to adjust for the times. I did financial projections assuming the worst case and accepted that it is my reality. Once I mentally accepted that is my reality, I then built the plan to try to do better than the worst case. We looked at all business costs and figured out how we could reduce or optimize to minimize the pain during the downturn. In looking at it that way, anything you do that is above your worst-case projection becomes a positive.
I use that same strategy for any issue that comes up in life that is a challenge. Accept the worst and work towards a better outcome. It is amazing how that strategy almost completely eliminates any fear or worry.
Lastly, I use fear to motivate me to get off my butt and work even harder. It’s real easy to get complacent when things are going well or even okay. But when things get tough, there are two types of people. There are people who just give up and wait for a miracle, and there are people who strap up their boots and work that much harder to overcome the obstacles. I’ve always been the guy that works to overcome. Because I don’t want to lose what I’ve built over the last 28 years, the fear of loss motivates me stronger than anything else. I have found that channeled correctly; fear can be a very strong motivator.
If you are that person who wants to give up when the going gets tough, find a way to use that fear in a positive way, and you just might end up surprising yourself.