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Negative Marketing

I thought it was doing ok until I read

One of the core ideas around finding a successful business idea is that you create something that solves an issue or fills a need. If there is no need to be filled, it’s tricky to find a customer, unless they just want to burn their money.

Once you’ve identified their need, and found your solution, the trick is then how to communicate the need will be filled, without also creating a negative idea around the fact the person reading it is somehow “less than” without your solution.

old-before-your-timeThis isn’t a new idea. Original advertising in the 1950’s, ’60’s and 70’s was full of it. We were open to it back then too. Less media savvy, less cynical and less about personal empowerment and personal success.

With the move towards content marketing, and the rise and rise of effective copy, mixed with good images, the temptation is to just create a torrid description of the need first. This is the easiest way to tap into the emotions of the reader (if you have read your target market right).

The issue with doing so is:

  • The reader may have come to your page in a good mood. Thanks for bringing them down! They could have made a call to work with you in a good mood. Now they are in a bad mood
  • You trigger emotions that aren’t immediate resolved by your solution
  • Your trigger words and story doesn’t quite connect with the reader, and they feel they aren’t that bad, and resent you for trying to make them feel bad
  • It hits them right between the eyes, they know they need it, but the only way you are going to be able to sell to them continuously or again is to continue to tap into their misery.

I’ll admit I fell into this trap when I originally wrote my copy for Identify. It’s easy to paint a picture to help your reader to emotionally connect to their own misery. (even if they were unaware they were miserable in the first place)

It began to feel like an uneasy strategy for me. My target market are people who have great ideas, great products and work hard. Why would I want to attack them for the sake of a sale? How did that fit with my own values of building up, empowering, directing and reenergising?

I personally believe if you need to pull people in with playing with their negative emotions, you’ve got a flawed product or service. They may buy you, or click on you to begin with but you’ve sold to their broken or unconfident side, rather than to the person who they’d prefer the world to see.

If you want to create a business that has vibrancy, energy and growth, you need to affirm your clients through your copy, not break them down emotionally. The key is not to illuminate their deficiencies, but to enlarge their vision of their capabilities. Become aspirational.

So next time you (or the person who’s been directed to) write your content, think about the core message. Are you trying to tap into a negative issue you’ll solve, or tap into the next step towards a better solution.

it might sound a little “negative” but I suggest it should be death to negative marketing.




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