Why You Absolutely Must Use Fear Tactics

By May 13, 2013Startup

Fear Tactics – Use Them or be Left Behind

A friend, Jason, is writing a very content-rich new blog, aimed at enticing Americans to get out and travel. It’s called AmericansGetOut.com and is full of information designed to help you find the time and wherewithal to get out and travel. Jason’s been working hard on writing epic content, and is trying lots of new ways to get the most exposure he can from his blog. Enter ‘fear tactics’. He sent around the following email. Take a look, then let’s see how a few of us answered him. What do you think? Have you found success with fear tactics in your blogs?

From Jason:

I have a moral quandary…

I hate fear more than anything, well almost anything.  Straight up liars and cheats come right before those who partake in fear mongering.   I hate fear so much that I’m almost unwilling to use it as a tactic to get people to read my blog posts.
The people who are really good at getting people to read their posts, suggest you cater to a reader’s fears.  Not just cater to them but make their fears worse, and ‘fear’ them into reading your post by saying “if you don’t read this your greatest fears will come true!”
Jon Morrow’s “52 Headline hacks” that was touted in Corbett’s latest blog post [find it here at thinkTraffic.com] is completely targeted at exciting fear in readers.  Every single “hack” is creating fear, suggesting things are negative, or examples scenarios that could turn out poorly UNLESS you read this post.
Jon suggests using the following post titles and just filling in the blanks:
* The Great [Blank] Hoax
* How Safe Is Your [Valuable Person/Object] from [Threat]?
* Warning: [Blank]
* Can We Really Trust [Person/Company/Product]?
* The Shocking Truth about [Blank]
…and there are 47 other hacks just like these examples.
Dan at inform.ly offers up pretty much the same advice as Jon.  Dan strongly suggests fear tactics in his Copy Structure for blog headlines.  I think the only major difference is that he introduces the fear at the beginning of the headline and then subtly shows a way to dissipate that fear near the end of the headline.  This style of headline is a little less gross to me.
I understand that I may be slightly sensitive to fear as I have let fear be a GIANT motivator in my life to stay safe and not venture out of the box.
So my question is this: Is it morally wrong to use fear tactics to get people to read your blog posts?
Let me know what you guys think.

Very interesting email about fear tactics. Here are the replies:

From Me:

I love this question. Your answer is NO. It’s not bad.
You need to wake people up.
My explainer video [from zankme.com] in a few words:
  • The problem is BAD. YOU’RE MISSING THE BOAT (no way to stay in contact with fans [who have money])
  • Zankme helps you FIX THIS HORRIBLE PROBLEM
  • Here’s how EASY it is to FIX THIS HORRIBLE PROBLEM with ZANKME.
Without this buildup [and fear tactics], here it is
  • Want to reach more fans?
  • Zankme can help you GET A MILLION FANS.
  • See how EASY it is to GET A MILLION FANS with ZANKME?
I really don’t think the second approach is 1. as effective or 2. realistic at all or 3. nearly as exciting or ENTICING.
Fear is a strong word. You need to accentuate the problem you are solving. There’s so much NOISE out there. To get over the noise (with your ‘signal’) you really need a powerful signal. Those are digital signal processing words, but the analogy is spot on. You have to have a high signal-to-noise ratio and your signal power is inflated by really telling people how bad it is right now. Framing.
That’s my opinion on it.
What I love most about your email:
– I love moral people. Hats off, Jason!!
– I love (almost as much) that you’re thinking about how to get MORE READERS. Awesome. Keep it up. You’re posts have been awesome. Make them awesomer! Scare some people!! 🙂
And from Marketing genius, (and occasionally crass) Mike Newton (from hackingPhotography.com)
Read this guy: www.themarketingmoron.com.  Before you judge him on his shitty looking site, realize he is in a mastermind group with Steven Cox who highly recommended him.  He also drives a Ferarrii (if you’re into that thing, I Zank loves authors who love Ferarris…[reference here is to MJ DeMarco, author of The Millionnaire Fastlane]).

He has been touting a new technique for getting huge response from his email list that could likely get the same reaction in blog posts. He calls it the “Face Slap”.  He tries to polarize his audience and create knee-jerk reaction as fast as possible.  Piss people off?  Good, they will broadcast your message and bring more people in.  Love it?  Great they will also share this info and bring more in.  The worst thing that can happen with a post is what we never think about – nothing.  Someone reads it, thinks “meh” and then never comes back.
This could be really easy to do around travel.
“What the hell are you doing with your life”
“If you haven’t been out of the country yet you are failing”
“Don’t be a pussy, get out of the country”
“Grow some balls and shred some excuses”
Ok, maybe the last one was a bit strong but you get the point.  You want someone to react.  Strongly.
Thanks, Mike!
There you have it; we’ve weighed in on fear tactics. What do you think?

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