Recently on my private page, I expressed some concern over a popular health guru’s marketing techniques. Let’s just say, this didn’t make me very popular.
I work with women who have spent their entire lives being told that they are broken and need fixing, that they are only worthy if they ‘do’ certain things and eat certain things. They are constantly bombarded with messages that prey upon their fears, insecurities and their willingness to fit in. I know, I’m one of them, and maybe you are too.
That’s why I got my warrior paint on this past weekend, and though I realise that maybe my approach didn’t use the ideal tact’, I felt that it's an elephant in the room that needed to be exposed.
So what is the target of my fury? My drive to speak out and potentially further push me into the category of black sheep? Fear-based marketing (gah).
Remember the old snake oil sellers from Westerns? Funnily, I wrote about them just last year. They were dapperly dressed salesmen that sat on their podium and made you believe that you were unwell and that their snake oil was the only cure. Voila – fear-based marketing.
Firstly, let’s get this straight – I have no problem with people marketing themselves and encouraging people to buy a product especially if they know they/it can help others. I know, I sell stuff too. I sell my services, I sell my book.
It’s not the pitch that’s the problem; it’s the direction in which it’s thrown.
Let’s face it! Fear has been a powerful marketing strategy for decades. Scary sells. We’re hard-wired to avoid pain in any shape or form.
Some common fears that many of us share include fear of old age, fatness, ridicule, disease, death and rejection.
Many so-called health gurus are preying upon those fears and using their power of authority to initiate this fear-based marketing and that to me is a real shame.
Let's take for example the following couple scenarios:
The person feels ‘ok’ goes to a roadshow (or reads an article), ticks a few boxes, is led to believe they are diseased and sick, is told that the only cure is to buy products. If someone is financially capable, there might not be any real disadvantages but for many, it’s an unnecessary cost – which in turn may cause financial stress or guilt should they stop taking them or following said protocol.
Modern-day snake oil peddling?
I see it all the time in articles, blog posts, road shows etc. But if we can begin to question what we hear and read, we can begin to initiate awareness and learn to listen to our own body and common sense.
So, how can we identify fear-based marketing strategies? Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when you see an advert, a blog post or perhaps go to a seminar.
How does the ad/post/article/talk make you feel? Confused, anxious, unwell? Did you start off feeling ok – and finish feeling not so? Are you more confused than ever? Are you anxious that you are doing something wrong? Perhaps even endangering your family or yourself.
What type of language does it use? Fear-based marketing is often negative. It will use words like “toxic” “diseased” “harmful” “poison” “sick”, anything that will initiate this stress response. It will also use language that makes you feel inadequate, insinuating only ‘more’ (their product or service) will make you feel better.
Little do these companies know, there is another powerful marketing tool that has been shown to have equal results if not better ones. It's called trust. Rather than scaring someone healthy – let’s try to focus on making connections, empowering others and letting others know, that you’re simply there for them.
When they need you, you are there.
And always remember.
You are great, just as you are. xx