Have you ever wondered if you can scare your customers into buying your product?

If you’ve wondering this, you’re not the only person who has thought about this somewhat peculiar question. In fact, not only are you not the only person who has wondered this, but it’s actually an extremely valid question.

It’s a very valid question because fear-based marketing works. Fear can actually trigger your target audience to take action and buy your product or service.

Lea Dunn, of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, found that people who feel afraid or alone experience an unusually high attachment to the brands closest to them. She elaborates on this by explaining that consumers remember the brands and products they meet while fearful, in a favorable way.

According to Dunn, this happens because when people are fearful they seek out human connections. If there are no humans nearby, a brand will perfectly fill the gap. This means that brands have an opportunity to create emotional attachments to people when fear is in play.

Behavioral psychologist Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall further solidified this notion by explaining: ”If you can find out what people’s worst nightmare is, camp out inside their nightmare…[they’ll] do anything…to get out of that situation.”

A few examples of brands successfully using fear to grow include:

  • Nike. Their “Just Do It” tagline makes people fear missing out because they didn’t commit in time.
  • L’Oreal. They use the tagline “Because I’m Worth It” to take aim at the insecurities of people regarding their appearance.
  • FedEx. They used the tagline “Absolutely, Positively Overnight” to make people fear missing a deadline.

With this in mind, scaring a prospect doesn’t mean putting a gun to their head and making them buy. It means making them feel like they are going to miss out on an opportunity.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Fear-based marketing works because consumers are genuinely afraid of missing out on something. When you add in an expiration date to an offer, letting consumers know that there’s an impending deadline, this will help facilitate sales. Dates and other fear tactics will make consumers take actions that benefit your business.

Fear can benefit your business, when done correctly, because it often gives consumers a sense of exclusivity. It makes people feel like if they don’t act at that very moment they will fail to get into whatever you’re offering.

The fear marketing message isn’t “do this or die,” but rather don’t miss out on an experience or an incredible deal. Fear-based marketing is not meant to be a dark and gloomy thing. It is meant to be a way to creatively articulate what happens if a person doesn’t do a specified task.