Photo by Rosie Hardy
Someone recently asked me if the only way to cause people to react emotionally to your marketing message is by using fear (fear of the unknown, loss, death, family, job, etc.).
As humans, we are wired to respond to fear by producing adrenalin. Fight or flight. Protect yourself at all costs. However, once the adrenalin tank is empty, the reaction is over.
Many television news shows focus on bad news. As people get used to bad news, the “thrill” is gone, and people need stronger stimulation to create a reaction. This is true for scary movies, MTV videos, etc. You need to keep upping the adrenalin trigger. Eventually people get tired of the fear/adrenalin reaction, and start tuning out. You’ve lost them.
Fear is a great short-term motivator. But it’s not a good long-term motivation. Researchers have studied what message would motivate people who had heart attacks to make healthy changes in their lifestyle (to live longer). Fear of another heart attack/death produced short-term behavioral changes, but once people got used to the fear, they reverted to their older (bad) habits. Only by having people focus on keeping/growing the love in their life, they were able to make long-lasting behavioral changes.
Remember that fear is only one of the basic human emotions that you can use in your marketing. The others include: love/sex, anger/hate, wealth, freedom for mind & body, desire for life after death, self-preservation, recognition/self-expression. Make sure you choose your emotional “hooks” well, both for short-term and long-term results.