Why does Fear Matter?As you probably have guessed I highly recommend Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In the book he addresses the fears that most people struggle with on a daily basis.
Enter the world of educational marketing. People were using their knowledge to sell products designed to teach people skills that would make their lives better. I knew instantly that I could make an impact and be incredibly successful in that world.
My personal feeling is that most marketers don’t have the first clue, and I don’t mean to offend anyone here, about the concepts I am talking about. BUT they apply them very well without knowing it. The ones that do know and truly understand the power are the “gurus” that have risen to the top. You know which ones I am talking about if you have studied the marketing industry at all.
First, you need to have a desire to help people. Ultimately, that is what learning these skills is all about. Whether it is creating an info product that helps people find love, or developing a new technology that helps people manage their day better, or a something that revolutionizes the world, like the telephone, then the cell phone, and then the iPhone. The people who understand these concepts – both large and small, earth shattering or niche targeted - are the ones who innovate in the world and the ones who take action and don’t let fear stop them from being successful.
So let’s address fear.
Fears that drive EVERYTHINGFear is the most powerful motivator on the planet. You have a fear of going bald you’re your father so you join the infomercial “club.” You have a fear of being alone so you join an online dating site. You have a fear of getting cancer so you buy the vitamin supplement that claims it will make you healthy. Napoleon Hill knew it and every successful person he interviewed knew it. If you watch an infomercial today, see an info marketer video or read most advertisements in any magazine, they call out to one of the following fears. Ironically, most politicians play on the same fears but that is another topic.
The interesting part is that each of the fears listed in Think and Grow Rich ties directly to the three areas of success: Health, Wealth, and Love. I'll address each fear individually over the coming months. Master a message that appeals to any of these fears (and allays them) and you will find marketing success.
Fear of PovertyPoverty clearly ties to Wealth. People always have and always will want more than they currently have. Keep up with the Joneses is pervasive; this fear is also tied closely to ego and feelings of inferiority.
Humans by nature are creatures of habit. Those habits can be changed and manipulated as we have been finding out. One of the worst habits to fall into is the habit of trying to keep up with everyone else. The other factor is that most people are trained and raised to be mediocre. They aren’t pushed, they haven’t formed good habits, and therefore they get scared when confronted with something outside the norm. Being poor is one of those areas.
Here’s the downside to this fear. Politicians love it! On both sides of the aisle, they love it because they can use it to play the rich against the poor and define a “middle class” that includes the majority of people. The Right uses the poor as examples of what not to do and the rich as examples of doing it right. The left uses the rich as examples of what not to do and the poor as pawns and victims. Neither side is doing people a favor.
The bottom line is there will always be poor people, people getting by and making a living (the middle class), and the uber-rich or the 1% that understand the concepts in this book. My goal with this book is to help as many people as possible understand the 1% mentality and be more successful. The wonderful thing about America and our capitalist system is that even though there are levels of income and wealth/poverty, people are not static. Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is barred. People are free to move up and down the scale at their own will – they can get lazy and lose everything, or they can work hard, become educated, risk their own money, and move up from poverty to wealth. It is not a zero sum game; there is not one pie and when it’s gone it’s gone. No; there is always more pie.
It’s that simple.
Fear of Ill HealthHealth is a tremendous issue in the world today. Some countries have people dying of hunger on a daily basis. Others have an epidemic of obesity, and yes, I mean America. Although many European countries aren’t in much better shape; America has spread democracy and fatty hamburgers. Sorry Europe, it’s the truth. I recently watched a cooking show on TV and within less than two minutes, they claimed that 25% of elementary school students don’t eat over the weekend and 40% of the students are obese. That’s over half the students who have an issue of too much or too little. That leaves 35% that are so-called normal? There are studies that skew the data in both ways and truly I think they are all bogus anyway. Most studies are funded by somebody who has a dog in the hunt. I urge you to be skeptical of statistics, surveys, polls, and studies of all kinds. The proponents know that if they can prove that people are obese (unhealthy) then they can sell products they play on this fear and sell more products. Other companies will target the other end of the spectrum. There is also a huge problem with semantics and terminology – hunger in America might be defined as going four hours without food. Hunger is third world countries would be defined as going four days without food.
Health issues are an issue in this country and most countries throughout the world and there are a lot of people willing to exploit them to make a buck. The reason is the basic fear of ill health and the resulting early death. Even the military has had to confront current dietary trends recently, and are working hard to increase exercise and provide meals that are higher in nutritional content and lower in fat. It used to be said that a soldier marches on his belly, but very often today’s soldier has a sedentary job behind a computer or the controls of a remotely operated vehicle. Fitness training must be ongoing, not stop after boot camp or mission readiness.
My personal viewpoint is that health and fitness are critical to success in business and military service. The people who are healthier are the ones who can be more productive and accomplish more in less time and therefore end up being more successful. Just my opinion.
People are constantly worried about their weight and their health so take this fear out of your personal equation. My advice: when you are doing your organized planning or time management, build in time to exercise and you won’t have to worry about developing this fear.
Fear of Loss of LoveThe relationship market is huge. NOBODY wants to be alone in this world. Having a companion to spend time and do fun things with is incredibly important.
Even the TV shows in prime time are exploiting this fear and creating a huge target audience of customers. I find this a bit appalling but I don’t control the airwaves, only what I watch.
This fear has become a favorite of the internet (like the other two haven’t - yeah right). The dating sites out there number in the hundreds, which is my official guesstimate but I could be wrong. It may be in the thousands.
It’s been a while since I was in the dating world and I struggle to relate to this one. When I think back to when I was in my 20’s and single, I guess I did fall victim to this fear a few times.
I’m not entirely sure what the solution is to this fear and I doubt that it will ever go away. As long as people are alive, and the sexual urges are present, people will want to hook up. Whether this fear is something you can exploit in your marketing will depend upon your service and/or product, and your ability to relate to the marketplace. Many products may not, at first glance, seem to be relatable to the fear of loneliness, but a closer look may reveal an opportunity. Say, for example, your product is an app that allows customers to better organize their time. If they are better organized, they will have more free time to pursue romance, right? It’s certainly easier to cement a strong relationship if you have plenty of time for wining and dining. My point is, don’t automatically dismiss this fear without a close look at how it might tie in to your marketing plan.
Fear of Criticism and RejectionThis fear applies to all three areas because the areas of fear are the three most likely areas that people could be criticized. I’ve mentioned TV shows in all three fears categories. We have Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, the Housewives suite of shows, and The Apprentice all on prime time. When you watch any one of those shows, the biggest dramatic moments happen when someone gets criticized on the show for one reason or another. The conflict increases ratings but the cause of the criticism lies in the fact that most people hate to have someone say something bad about them. No one likes to be criticized and we will often go to great lengths to avoid such conflict or rejection.
Criticism and its cousin rejection are without a doubt the easiest of the fears to apply, simply because it applies to all fears. It becomes much too easy to get a rise out of people by criticizing them and then exploiting that response.
Look at most direct marketing copy writing. They start with a question that addresses a “problem” and then they agitate the problem in order to make you feel criticized. They then swoop in as the hero and provide the solution for you. They use all the marketing tactics I mention in the actions of marketing to play on your emotions and motivate you to take action to fix the “problem.” Marketing 101, if you will.
Now let's take a look at the political spectrum and you'll see that politics at its core is just Marketing at its best. The biggest topics in the last 10 years are safety (protecting us from another terror attack), healthcare for all (Obamacare), the economy (more specifically preventing the economy from failing. Every politicians spins the information to make it fit the need of his or her message. Ironically, not one politician is immune to the Fear of Criticism and Rejection. That's why they defend their stance (no matter how absurd it is) and need to hold on to the seat. Getting voted out of office is the ultimate signal that you have been rejected.
This isn't a political blog but looking at politics can teach you a lot about how to market your business by focusing on fears to drive people to solve a problem.