I know I don’t. If there’s something that’s worrying me out there on the horizon, I can always distract myself with things that I’m pretty sure I can easily handle. Peeling back the layers and looking underneath into the dark and hidden scary stuff isn’t my cup of tea. I certainly don’t go seeking it out.
Why Most People Would Rather Change The Subject…
Unfortunately, most stuff that disrupts a person’s life or causes pain is junk that they know deep down they could have (might have) avoided. But since it’s not causing immediate pain, they push it down to the bottom of their consciousness.
Often, things that scare us are already on our radar, but we avoid looking directly at them. Some examples:
- You might fear that a sedentary lifestyle is making you unhealthy. It’s causing you to gain weight and lose muscle.
- You might fear that you’re not teaching your child how to managing money, or use allowance wisely. You know you need to get some kind of system in place to help them learn about personal finance before they grow up, but time slips by and you never do.
- You might fear that you’ll make a fool of yourself at the next golf outing with your boss if you don’t practice and learn the game.
- You might fear your child’s car seat is not installed properly, or that your tires are unsafe.
- You might fear you’ll have to work the rest of your life and never retire in comfort.
- You might fear that you won’t pass an upcoming exam you need to graduate…
See what I mean? People can put off a lot of situations because they are not urgent today. Yet these things are taking up precious mental space, and causing a riot of worry beneath the surface.
If you never address your customer’s fear you’ll never sell a thing.
Copywriters are trained to understand the motivational power of fear, yet some fail to use it effectively in their copy. A lot of small business owners who write their own copy don’t even want to “go there.” They think it’s not nice to “scare” their customers and may view this copywriting technique as a strong-arm tactic. Some even worry that they’re being impolite by drawing attention to others’ fears!
If you’re one of those business people, you won’t be in business long unless you start looking at sales differently. This post will help you see the “fear factor” as something that actually serves your customer… it doesn’t trick them into doing something they never intended to do in the first place!
If that’s your intention, or you’re not sure if you should be selling whatever it is you’re selling, then stop now. Go back to the drawing board and improve your product or offer — or find something different to sell that you can feel good about.
Never use fear of loss to get people to do something they don’t really want to do, or that will ultimately harm them. Never.
But I’m assuming that you truly believe in your products or services, so today I want to walk you through how to use fear in your copywriting without worrying about taking advantage of your customer.
Use (Never Abuse) Fear To Sell Your Products
Copywriting is a form of selling. Ultimately, you are educating a potential customer about the benefits of your product and (hopefully) persuading them to buy something from you. I know people rarely talk about web copy that way anymore. It’s all “helpful and entertaining content,” etc. The truth is, though, that’s what content marketing ultimately does, and it’s what all effective marketing copy does… It motivates people to act.
Consumers are very smart. So don’t think you’re going to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, or simply write some magic words that work like voodoo to get someone to do something. It doesn’t work that way.
The only reason you use words that might make a customer uncomfortable is because that discomfort is what causes people to act!
If you don’t touch a nerve, why would your customer bother changing anything at all? It’s human nature to simply carry on, or to pretend a problem isn’t that big a deal.
So how do you kindly address your customer’s fear? How do you show that you feel their pain without sounding slimy or blatantly sales-y?
FACE THE FEAR.
First, step into your customer’s shoes. See the situation from their point of view and show that you understand by using the customer’s words to describe it.
Now, if you’ve been in business long enough, you probably know how the problem feels because past customers have told you, or you’ve experienced the fear yourself. I know so many business people who go into business because they have solved a problem that used to vex them like crazy. Now that their problem is solved, they want to share it with others.
REVEAL HOW IT FEELS.
Give your customer space to really feel the discomfort before you jump to solving it. Use a few sentences to get into the sensory aspects of the discomfort. Are your palms sweating? Is your heart racing? Do you have that dread that comes with the feeling that your heart’s in your throat? Can you hear a voice in your head telling you what you should do?
Avoid rescuing. The only one who can really transform a negative situation into something positive, is the person who experiences it. If you position yourself as a miracle worker, you’re in a dangerous position. Let your customer own it the problem and the fear, not you.
It’s human nature to come up with all sorts of excuse to tamp down the fear and pretend a problem really isn’t much of a problem. The skilled copywriter can walk a reader through this murky territory and show their prospect how much control they really have to change their situation. Simply state all the reasons a client might avoid a real solution. (Is it too expensive, too difficult, or too late?) Then reveal the peace, the freedom, or the confidence that comes from owning the fear and taking action.
CONTRAST THE FEAR AND THE SOLUTION.
Contrast the fear and what life would be life without it. Help your reader see what’s possible, what the removal of the fear would really look like in her life.
Imagine a blurry image or word coming into focus, as if you’re a patient in an eye exam viewing a line of text through two different lenses during an eye appointment. You know how the optometrist asks, “Which is better? A or B?” and then you make your choice? Now that’s instant clarity! Click.
Focusing on something negative doesn’t mean elevating it above the positive. It’s simply putting two things side by side and showing the differences.
“Focus” simply means bringing clarity to the negative state. Acknowledge the negative, or the fear, and then flip the lens. Once you do that, you don’t need to “sell” anything because the clearer perspective sells the product for you.
Don’t wallow in the problem. Spending too much time in that zone of fear and loss creates more worry on the customer’s part. Address concerns and move on. You want to spend more time showing your customer the good life, so don’t carry that negative baggage around for too long.
The key here is a smooth transition. You’ve already shone your spotlight on the problem, and then contrasted it with a clear difference.
Now you must quickly and decisively put the problem to rest. Switch to the obvious solution — the one you provide via your product or service.
Finally, care. It’s not about convincing someone to do something they don’t want to do. A strong-armed “yes” practically guarantees that you’ll have an unhappy and resentful client. Concern yourself with getting customers who are 100% on board. The only way to get that all-in effect is to show real empathy toward your customer and the problems you claim to solve.
Understand fear, but don’t let it permeate your message. You don’t always have to be talking about it. Let this knowledge quietly work for you.
Here’s a little tip: Why not work through some of these points today? You don’t have to write a blog post, or to even use these points in your marketing copy right now. But trust me, when you take the time to understand what might be keeping your customer from buying your product, chances are it boils down to something they’re afraid of.
You don’t always have to mention it, but if you spend some time figuring out possible fears, and it will transform how you deal with clients and prospects, even when your message is in keeping with a positive vibe.
The really great thing about tackling a customer’s fear in your copy is that once you wrap your head around the transition that must be made in your customer’s mind, you can easily conquer her fears and doubts in a few bullet points.
I was trained long ago to write copy for the long sales page, telling a story that gets someone reading through to the end. On the web, though, you may only have room for a few sentences. Consumers don’t always have time to read every word.
If you understand the progression someone goes through to get from a place of fear to a feeling of genuine calm without worry or doubt, then you’ll be able to write copy that moves quickly, or that can be doled out in small bits and bites over time, as on social media, or in short pay-per-click ads.
Don’t avoid touching your customer’s pain, worry and fear. It’s a necessary part of the sales process. Use the fear appeal to your advantage. Your ideal customer will benefit, and your conversions will skyrocket.
Get more copywriting tips!
Want to learn more about converting customers and making better sales online? I’ve put together a series of 21 very short videos highlighting the top converting copywriting techniques…