Positive Marketing Messages vs. FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) – Five Suggestions

Situation: IBM and others established the value of preaching FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) within their marketing campaigns – “choose IBM, the brand that you can depend on, because who knows what others will actually deliver.” Is it still worthwhile to use FUD, or are we better off emphasizing the positive benefits of our services and keeping our image positive?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • When considering whether it is better to sell the time that your system or product is “up” or the time that it is “not down,” you need to understand your customer’s perspective.
    • If they are cautious and skeptical, then FUD may work. If they are positive and upbeat, then they will more likely respond to a positive, upbeat message.
    • Match your marketing message to the attitude of the key decision makers within your customer companies. Learn their hot buttons during ambassadorial visits.
  • Companies sometimes use FUD when they sell “the future.”
    • Being “in”: if you haven’t got our product/service you won’t be with it!
    • Insurance companies sell protection from the unknown.
  • Mix the message. Sell the positives, with an appreciation of the cost of the negatives to reinforce the positives.
  • Be the “Mr. Goodwrench” of your marketplace. Educate and reinforce.
  • Consider positive health care analogies in your marketing:
    • Rapid Response – mimic messages from urgent care.
    • The value of maintenance programs – mimic messages from wellness programs.
    • Develop metrics to substantiate what your customers are hearing from your message.

Key Words: Marketing, Messaging, Brand, Image, Research, Validation 

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