Marie Forleo introduction

Hi!

I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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Before I get into this week’s episode, I’ve got some pretty awesome news to share.

MarieTV was just named an Official Honoree of the 16th Annual Webby Awards in the Best Web Personality/Host category!

That means out of over 10,000 entries from all 50 states and 60 countries, less than 10% are chosen by the Academy as an Official Honoree and we are one of them.

If you don’t know, the Webbys are like the Oscars for our industry and we’re SO freakin’ pumped about this major honor.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support. Your time, attention and feedback are precious to me so thank you again for being a part of this incredible global community, and my life.

Now onto today’s episode.

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot of different marketing strategies at your disposal. Some approaches may inspire your customers to buy and some may scare them into opening their wallets. You’ve probably experienced both ends of the spectrum as a consumer, too.

Many of us wonder, is it OK to use fear tactics in our marketing? And if fear-based marketing strategies are not your cup of tea, what are some other effective marketing strategies you can use?

Click play and learn why using fear tactics isn’t always a bad thing, plus get four non-fear based marketing strategies that work like a charm! And if you want another, more advanced, positive marketing strategy, click here.

Now I’d love to hear your take on this topic.

Have you used or seen a fear-based marketing strategy that felt totally ethical and on point?

Do you have other non-fear based marketing strategies to share?

Be specific and share your best stories, advice and experiences in the comments below!

Thanks in advance for contributing to this conversation.

It’s REALLY important that we educate ourselves on what marketing really is and how to be honest, ethical and highly effective in everything we do.

After all, if your product or service changes the world, it’s YOUR responsibility to learn how to get it in front of as many people as possible.

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93 comments

  1. I don’t know how I feel about weight-loss companies using the fear tactic. I mean, its just so overdone. Wouldn’t you think the public is desensitized to “Are you tired of working so hard and not losing weight?” And could you say that, by now, its unethical to put someone through this white rabbit chase (finding the program that actually works)? The only businesses I can see pulling it off are businesses that are very personal and transparent.

    • I second this & would like to add that the “beauty” industry is one of the worst perps in this regard, psyching women out about wrinkles, cellulite, etc. in order to push their expensive, chemical-laden goo.

      I definitely prefer a more FUN & positive approach.

      Ellen Degeneres for Cover Girl is a fantastic step in the right direction. Make me laugh! Make me feel beautiful “as is”.

      • Rhea

        I agree. I think the beauty industry uses fear and in addition CREATES fear. They’ve been at it for so long nobody seems to notice anymore.

    • I think having women feel panicked about looking overweight is a little stupid, so basically I agree. However, there are very real dangers associated with being overweight and rather than just scare people, I think it’s important to inform them that it’s more than just a cosmetic thing…that’s why it’s so important to realize that gimmicks don’t work. It takes hard work and dedication and the understanding that you truly have to make a change to get what you want…not just take a magic pill or supplement or drink a meal replacement or something…

  2. “I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness. Other things being equal, I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on it’s side.”~
    Katherine Butler Hathaway
    As a general rule, I think people are more apt to wish to avoid pain, than to seek pleasure, given that choice. Providing a solution to a problem can be motivated by either fear, or reward. I prefer the carrot to the stick. 😉

    • marie

      I do too Chas!

  3. Awesome Marie!!!

    Fear is a given in business – the only certainty is UNcertainty so when it comes to my own marketing tactics I work on identifying the needs and pain points offer up solutions in usually humourous but honest way. Often this wake-up call I offer can scare the cr*p out of someone when they realise that they could be doing things wrong but I never leave them hanging in that state.

    I’ve run businesses in the past that were all about fear – some were about overcoming fear, another was making sure that real fear didn’t become a reality (or at least was minimised) in the case of the last example we used to provide rescue training in a market that had a crazy number of accidents – our marketing was all geared up to highlighting and instilling fear as it was important to make our clients listen up.

    Now, fear of uncertainty, fear of missing out, and the fear of not realising your potential is what drives my business today – it’s something I’m aware of but I don’t use it in my marketing often but it’s an underlying thread.

    Instead it’s all out how we all go through similar challenges and how I “get” where they are and how that magic fairy dust I have to offer can be sprinkled their way to help give them wings!

  4. As always, great information Marie! Haven’t really tried the fear-as-a-marketing-tactic route, but sounds like a good idea – a bit like using a story to engage your customers, where once you get to the conflict, you are able to offer solutions and a happy ending…

    • marie

      Carina – you’re right on using a story. Facts tell, stories sell.

  5. This is a fantastic video! I hate “fear marketing”. When I suspect someone is trying to play on my anxieties and fears, I usually back away. It always feels like “propaganda”. Your suggestions are solid. Here’s to solutions rather than scare tactics!

  6. I can’t think of one good purchase I made from the motivation of fear.

    The best purchases I’ve ever made in my life are made from the motivation of pleasure!

    Think about that too. Because you do want your customers to come back, right?

  7. Fantastica Info like always! Your vid remind me to dust of Tony Robins cd course, “Mastering Influence”. I could not afford it but the Fear….

  8. I don’t use fear-based strategies because it would make no sense for my business (“If you don’t buy my wall mirror paintings for home decor, you’ll have an empty, bland house that scares your friends away oooooo~~~”)
    Haha, doesn’t make a ton of sense, does it?
    I do use the other tactics though. I try to help customers envision my product fitting into their life by saying what decors my paintings will fit and the effects they’ll have on rooms. I need better photos though. Exclusivity is a given because all of my paintings are OOAK (one of a kind), and I only sell on one place on the internet as well.

    ONE THING I would say related to the photos I mentioned earlier is that people are primarily influenced by visual stimulation. If there’s a way to advertise your product/service in a visual manner, DO IT. and do it good! Seeing pictures of the product/service being utilized helps people imagine how they could use it better than any words will.

    Oh, and Marie and Co, congratulations on the Webby Award Honoree! That’s awesome. You certainly deserve it! I love this blog!

    • Omgosh Jin – your comment really helped me hone in on how to market my gourd dolls better! Thank YOU!

      I’ve been using limited editions as a marketing tool. I have a book I published this year based on a piece of gourd art I created. I made a few “kittens” (miniature versions of the original artwork) and won’t make another litter available until later this year. So far it’s working pretty well!

      Congrats Marie & Co. – your videos and tips are uber helpful!

    • marie

      thank you!! 😉

  9. Hey Marie,

    I’ve been subscribed to your videos for a while now but I figured it was time for me to come out of incognito mode and actually comment – especially since this is such a powerful topic. You sure now how to get a girl thinking early on a Tuesday morning!

    As women, we have all seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of fear tactics. Marketers love to use women’s fear that they aren’t good enough as motivation to get them to buy their product.

    But the truth of the matter is, we all get scared. I completely agree with what you said above but to take things a bit further, for ladies who decide to go down the fear route, keeping the following in mind has always helped me to remaining “authentic” to who I am and to my customers’ needs:

    Use their fear as a motivator but be open about your fears as well. Whenever possible, use storytelling to show that you deeply understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through.

    We’re all in this crazy world together and it always feels good to meet folks who “get it” and have the authentic desire and ability to help.

    • @LC, love your tip on storytelling! That’s a great tip 🙂

  10. Whilst I’m not totally opposed to the use of ‘fear’ tactics in marketing, I do feel that positive/affirming messages are more ethical. Many marketers seem to use fear as a tool for manipulating their audience/customers which I think is unfair. Psychology in marketing is a massively powerful thing, it can isolate, scare, intimidate and manipulate and I see a lot of ‘marketers’ using these types of tactics to sell their products/services which I personally don’t really agree with. I much prefer to buy & sell products that send positive messages and offer solutions + hope.

    • marie

      Very cool Vicky. Looking back, did you ever make a purchase out of fear where it felt RIGHT? (Example for me: not wanting my pup to catch fleas again!)

  11. Oh, I love fear related stuff, you can learn so much from it. Fear of failure is my favourite one! I love it when people say ‘but what if don’t make it, what if I make a fool of myself’? Who cares, I say! Go make fool of yourself, only then will you succeed, right (look at Marie:). I work with with foreigners aka expats who are shit scared of starting anything new in a new country because they think of themselves as ‘second-class’ undervalued crowd. Ha! I love it! It so much fun when at some point they hit the wall and realise that they actually have an advantage and extra sales material.

    Thanks Marie, wicked stuff as always.

  12. Great advice, Marie! I’ve found exclusivity to work well for me (and I respond to it myself) because it rewards both fast action and those who are on your email list or Facebook page. Fear is not something that works with me but time limits for discounts often do.

    I love reading what others have to say about this – it’s a great topic and there’s always lots to learn!

    • AJ

      You and I are always in sync, Lisa!

  13. AJ

    I haven’t used fear based tactics in the past, but now I’m feeling like I should. Market scarcity is a great example of something that is fear based. I’ll give it a try.

  14. hay Marie
    its v great wt ur doing i m taking ur ideas to grow my busniess, keep it up ,ur FEAR storty realy imppresive
    bye
    Irfan
    Pakistan

  15. Morning from Mattapoisett 🙂

    Props to your Official Honoree Award from the Webby Awards. You are the best host around!

    My approach is definitely more of the tap into the fantasy approach. Everyone has an idea of how they want their life to be, what they want to look like, be doing, how they want to live, $ they want to earn, company they want to keep etc. My job as a health coach is to make the connection for my clients between that fantasy and I’m the path (as your coach) that will help take you there (and keep you there!)

    PS. Thanks so much for hosting Danielle Laporte’s book launch last week. It was great to finally meet you (and a total honor!)

    Keep smiling,
    Johanna

    • marie

      Great to meet YOU too 🙂

  16. I’ve used both tactics… being super positive like there’s not a worry in the world… this is SOOOOO bad for my business (as a life coach for inspired women)… Then when I began to reflect on people’s ‘pains’ and ‘frustrations’ I now have the chance to help sooooo many more women! makes sense to me! Can’t defeat reality!

  17. Awesome topic, Marie! And I agree that often times our customers need a bit of a nudge to understand the necessity of a product/service.

    We all are naturally inclined to procrastinate and attend to issues only once they escalate to crisis situations. Taking preventive measures is not something we eagerly do.

    I see it everyday in my business. I teach and assist my clients to streamline their business processes, so that they would get the highest return on their time and money investments.

    Practically every small business owner I talk to happily nod their head and says that they could sooo benefit from systems in their business. The percentage that, actually, takes the time to set up systems is significantly lower.

    So, I did exactly what you said – I appealed to my ideal client’s fantasy to be able to balanced everything – running a business AND being the best wife/mother/daughter/student/household keeper.

    And I did it in a fun way – I created a cartoon :).

    I also stress to my customers the point of what not taking action around systematizing their business would look like – like not being able to manage their e-mail could lead to not seeing the edits the client requested, which then becomes more work for them having to re-do the project once they DID see the message, which leads to delays, unhappy customer and my client’s being upset and exhausted.

    Sadly, a lot of my customers come to me when a business area got totally out of control. But that, at the same time, motivates me even more to use the strategies you’ve mentioned to prevent systems-related crisis from happening.

    Natasha (a.k.a. Systems Chick :))

  18. Laura Hames Franklin

    Hi Marie.

    Congrats for the nomination! That’s HIGE!!

    What a content-packed, actionable video. Thank you.

    Everytime I hear you talk about these marketing tactics they go a bit deeper into my ‘getting it’. Ever since B-School, my understanding of these strategies has catapulted and how honest and essential it is to be able to tell a story that is compelling…

    And as you so clearly voiced, most people are not driven by wanting to feel amazing but instead getting rid of a pain. I now find that I am able to speak more clearly to both sides of people, but fully see how the ‘pain point’ really does draw people in faster.

    On the other hand, when it comes to referrals, it’s great because my clients and students do the spreading of ‘how great you will feel.. And you have to do it!’ And that reaches the people who do want to ‘feel amazing’ and unleash their Super Powers!!

  19. As a marketing tactic, I love the idea of painting a picture of the target customers’ ideal outcome. And this picture can include alleviating some fears they may have in their business. I also like to put myself in their shoes and let them know I feel their pain, have been where they are, etc.

    I agree there are ethical ways to use fear in marketing, but I’m sure we’re all on email lists of marketers who take it way too far. I’m thinking of emails that say things like, “If you don’t start doing this ONE thing in your business, it’s doomed to fail!” etc. We all know that’s a load of b.s. ; )

    • marie

      I agree Kimberly – letting people know that you understand their fears and that you’ve been there is very important.

  20. Marie, congratulations on your award!

    Sending you and the Team a big Yes! + Fist Pump.

    Especially loved, “…if your product or service changes the world, it’s YOUR responsibility to learn how to get it in front of as many people as possible.” Doesn’t get any better than that.

    • marie

      thank you Michelle!

  21. Personally, I think it all comes down to this:

    Do you want more focus on fear in this world? Or do you want to add to the positive flow of energy in people’s lives?

    Which side are you on?

  22. I am so thankful for this video. I’m still starting out in my biz so while I have written out content, I hadn’t really thought out what marketing angle I was taking; meaning it wasn’t a conscious choice that I already had started to use your marketing strategy #1 and #4.
    I can focus my content to match my marketing strategies now that I know I feel most comfortable in marketing by creating interest and desire (what their life will be like after my service) and also that there is limited access to this service.
    It’s such a simple concept to have a consistent message, yet I wasn’t conscious of what mine was.
    Thanks again for helping me get clarity on my marketing and congrats on your award news!

  23. Dear Maria,

    Right on! Speaking to customers pain points (or “need”), in my opinion, is the sweet spot.

    Us humans are motivated to take action motivated by experiencing the future pain (including fear) of not accomplishing a goal or mission….as you stated we are also motivated by pleasure (envision feeling deep joy and pride for example after accomplishing a goal).

    Life and business have both.

    I’m a filmmaker and clients come to me mostly with “pain.” Pain of not having a story (or stories) told about the amazing work of their non-profit’s impact in the poor Andean communities of Peru for example, or how their mission is being implemented in East Africa and helping empower women entrepreneurs there, etc.

    So designing a solution (with compassion) that directly addresses the customer’s (or prospect’s) pain or fear (current or future), after listening and asking many questions, is my approach.

    Thanks for the inspiration Maria. You’re awesome!

    My best,
    Alan
    Grazioso Pictures, Inc.

  24. No fear here but I was thinking about the Flu Shot signs I see posted. It doesn’t even need any other word except “Flu” ugh, it brings up everything you want to avoid so you voluntarily go in for a shot! Loved the tips, Marie! You are fabulous Dahhhhlink!

  25. Hi Marie,

    Ooh, strategies. I love it too!

    The way that fear enters my strategy is in a different way. The jewelry industry sometimes makes it into the least-trusted industry lists. With all the confusing terms, gem treatments, things that are gold plated just listed as being gold….customers cannot be faulted for being wary about big-ticket jewelry purchases. Not to mention QVC and the “we buy gold” ads on tv!

    Instead of bringing up these fears, I have decided to answer them up front. I explain in as much detail as the customer wants how things are made and with what materials, by whom, how the gems are procured and why they have different price ranges.

    There is a certain point in the custom design process when the customer just says to me, “You can decide all the details, I trust your judgement/ aesthetic.” That is the moment when I know that all of their fears have been addressed and they know that I am offering the best value, design and service.

    Yep, learned a lot about this is b-school! Learning to truly fall into mutual love with my customers has been the biggest shift in my business since I began 10 years ago.

    Thank you Marie, and it was a pleasure to meet you last week!
    XO
    Natasha

  26. I think you gave us the perfect blend of fear-based and non-fear-based marketing strategies, Marie. As a holistic anxiety coach/motivational speaker/self-help writer for young women struggling with anxiety, it is a major part of my job to identify with the fears that my target audience are feeling so that I can best serve them. A big piece of my marketing strategy is to list out all of the anxious symptoms that people feel and then highlight my methods for getting rid of them in a happy, healthy and holistic way. In doing this, people get fired up and inspired to start healing themselves rather than turn to medication and more conventional methods which is the ultimate goal of my business. Thus, I see exactly what you are saying and don’t think it is inherently bad to use “fear tactics” to market your business. On the contrary, it is what most of us need to do to get ahead in a good, authentic way.

  27. First, congrats on the Webby! I know that’s a huge honor 🙂

    As far as fear tactics, I know for myself, if I notice someone trying to use fear tactics I find it very offputting. With that said, I think things like social proof or limited editions of things are perfectly fine. I think there’s a way to go about it that makes it come of kindof skeezy and ways to go about it that are completely honest. For my own business, I prefer to look at it as “this is how my product can help you/this is the products goal”. Great video as always!

  28. One of the fear-based marketing campaigns I dislike the most are for pets… because we all love our pets, there are tons of marketing messages geared toward things like heart-worm shots, and anti-aging dog foods.

    Luckily in most online marketing you don’t see messages like “if you don’t buy this product your dog is going to die”, so I consider online fear-tactics to be pretty tame in comparison! 🙂

    I’m always tempted to go light in my marketing, but it’s been helpful to think about the dark side if someone doesn’t take action, too.

    • Good one, Nathalie, pets and might I add to that…parenting! 2 of my clients are in parenting-related businesses and they both are steadfast in wanting NOT to go to the fear- (or pain-) based marketing model. This has been a successful approach for them both. However, we are playing with peppering in Marie’s “pain as compassion” model into the mix. We’ll see if showing the dark side of non-action attracts or repels their client base.

    • I think that the quirky-CUTE doggie pic in your “Irresistible Websites” banner is a perfect example of positive marketing.

      I hereby dub that marketing strategy… “The Awwww Factor”!

  29. Brilliant strategies Marie!

    In my own marketing I’ve found that using the right combination of inspirational and fear based marketing works beautifully. Being a food & body coach, it’s helpful to use fear to encourage change such as, “Do you hate your body? Is your body berating getting in the way of your business success? Ready to drop your body blocks to finally see you life and biz BOOM?” Yes it’s fear but its also true.

    I then use inspirational marketing/stories in my blogs post, as well as humor, as a nice counterbalance so it’s not always doom and gloom. Granted there are definitely fear based tactics that feel sketchy however when done authentically, marketing is simply a way to get your peeps to say YES to your amazing services that they desperately need.

    Thanks again Marie and team!

  30. Never approached the fear factor with this prospective. Also, congratulations! It is no surprise, you are amazing! Shared you on FB.

  31. ANOTHER FAB VIDEO! Thanks Marie!

    My husband has a tree service business (35 years). So often we see other tree service companies use fear in their marketing campaigns, i.e. trees falling on houses, limbs piercing through cars. While this does happen, my husband has never used this tactic in marketing his services. Even when the tree is in danger of falling, he prefers to use a more ‘science-based’ explanation of why the tree should be removed or trimmed back. I must confess that I’m the one who’s wanted to drag out the pictures of crushed houses for our winter marketing flyers . . . In all seriousness, I see a great benefit in customer testimonials. We love the ‘thumbs up’ reviews on ‘Yelp’ and I encourage our customers to post their experience.

    Thanks for the great tips, I’ve keyed them in and put them into my ‘marketing’ folder. You’re a DOLL!

  32. and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. First….congrats Marie! You are one of the shiniest and sparkly personalities out here…you deserve recognition!

    Second…I’m one of those people who felt that using fear and pain to market felt skeevy and awful. hated when others aimed that shite at me, hated thinking about doing that to others. Until…I figured out that I could use the stories of MY pain and MY fear, my story, to connect with my audience. That, at least has felt authentic to me…”this was my experience and this is what I did, does this resonate with you?”

  34. Marcia

    To me the pleasure vs. pain are like two sides of the same coin. I help business owners who have fallen out of love with their business make a profitable exit. There is the pain of being stuck in a job that they can’t quit and then there is the anticipation of being free of it with something (i.e. $) to show for years of hard work. If my service bridges the gap from where they are (painful) to where they want to be (pleasure) then how can you be effective without acknowledging both?

    • RE: “I help business owners who have fallen out of love with their business make a profitable exit.”

      Now THAT’S a fantastic service!

      • And a fantastic pith elevator line!

  35. I think the Allstate “Protect Yourself from Mayhem like Me” campaign is a brilliant use of fear-based marketing. Because it incorporates so much humor, we don’t really get hit over the head with scary, but at its root, it’s all about making you feel fearless about your insurance choices.

  36. Oh man! When I saw this in my email this morning I was thinking “please don’t tell me not to use fear, Marie because I just wrote some copy for my WeddingShape sales page last night and there’s a lot of pain points being stroked in there!”

    I was completely relieved that you said it’s cool if it comes from the right place…and I agree 100%. Dealing with brides, this deep desire to look amazing on the biggest day of their lives can turn into desperation which can lead to some really dangerous means for making it happen, like this feeding tube diet I just read about last week. Crazy shit. So I want them to be scared. I want them to know that they don’t have to do that shit. I want them to feel like they’re part of a movement to prepare for a wedding and the rest of their lives in a healthy and effective way.

    Speaking of effective, way to get me to open that friggin’ email!
    Love you!

  37. rajiakitty

    Thank you, darling, for your fabulousness and great life lessons!

  38. I like your point that fear may be one of many motivators for a client’s purchase; understanding how much of a driver it may be then makes the most sense before determining whether to campaign carrying the fear flag. I’ve found myself saying aloud that I relate most to people who are motivated to make change more by a desire for what they want than a fear of what they don’t want. (Remember that what we focus on increases, and focusing on the Not puts energy into the undesirable outcome.) Fluidity is a key requirement for progress in business, and in order to be truly responsive, we need to understand our own fears and how to leverage them. I think this is also true of my best client base, the ones with whom I have the most impact. I think too, I tend to market with a focus on that impact.

    Musings aside, thanks Marie for the Four Things I’ll be thinking about as I craft today’s planned campaign for new subscribers to my Mountain Time Program (also inspired by you!)

  39. Daniela

    Not enough of the shoes!! 🙂

    By the way Marie, I believe people who know your work don´t click on the “subject”, they click on “you” to know what you´re going to bring about with it.

    Congratulations on the Webby Awards.

  40. I never thought about fear in marketing, another eye opener for me. Perhaps my marketing line can be, prepare your shoulders, because these messenger bags are so large you can carry everything…lol

  41. Hi Marie, I love your style. The best for me is to follow someone around Costco.I hear thngs like “look honey it is a blank…we don’t have one of those adn it is only $…… we should get one.” These people are so drawn in by the marketing and are not even thinking about whether or not they need the item. So powerful.

    • Rowena,

      Word, girl.

      I worked for Costco Wholesale before I started my own business. And you know what? You’re absolutely right. Costco is “Smart Retail 101”. They know to place all of that timely “merch” (merchandise) on the fence that separates the “in” side from the “out” side, so that as soon as you walk in you’re completely mesmerized, to where you’re opting-in to buy things that… just like you said, weren’t even on your list.

      They estimated that the average “basket” (basket full of merch) was $300.00 back when I worked there, from 2000 to 2005. Their buyers strike the most awesome deals, evah! I mean, where else can you buy an authentic Prada bag, a Breitling or Omega brand watch, a 4 ct. top grade diamond (Tiffany jeweler quality, mind you) at almost a steal, top quality USDA meats, the latest bestselling novels, phenomenal wines, and on and on, all under one roof? Sam’s Club just can’t touch Costco. I’ve been taking notes – watching what they do and how they do it for years. And you definitely said it right… “So powerful”.

      Gotta respect companies that know how to get “it” right.

  42. Another awesome vid Marie! Keep em coming GIRRLLLL! Love your content! 😉

  43. Really liked the reframe of fear-based to compassion-based marketing.

    Seems like either a carrot or a stick can be used manipulatively, or not. It’s not manipulation when we’re genuinely coming from connection and serving our clients with the real love embodied in whatever form our goods or services take.

    You are a shining example of content-based marketing. Amazing how much value you weave in week after week to these vids, always seasoned with humor and pizazzaroonis. Thanks!

  44. Hi Marie,
    Awesome ethical marketing strategies! I’m totally into using ethically affirming strategies, but am enlightened to see that occasionally fear-based tactics work. In the entertainment industry that I’m in, I am glad that I don’t forsee needing this tactic.

    Marie and company, I actually discovered your website from your old B-School partner Laura Roeder. I look forward to more great tips from you!

    ~Rose Marie

  45. I think you can tell inspiring stories that influence your clients & customers to take action, and within that story or discussion, connect it to their particular issue they’re wanting to address (touch of fear tactic here since they want it relieved, gone, or in their past). So, it tugs at them personally, yet the story is empowering them to want more for themselves and go whatever it is they want – fueled by positivity!

  46. WOW! Thanks so much for answering my question!!! Super grateful <3

    When I initially wrote the question, I was thinking that fear in marketing is 100% no bueno. But after hearing your breakdown of the topic, I'm realizing that the situation is quite multifaceted and there is an important distinction to draw between creating fear in people, preying on people's fears and shining a light on fears as something your products and services can solve.

    • Also, major congrats on your Webby Honoree status, you most definitely deserve all the accolades you get!!!

  47. Marie, you are hilarious. Congratulations on your Webby recognition!! I would say you most def deserve that!

    I think authentic scarcity is a valuable tool, because there are limited openings, for example, to how many clients I can work with one-on-one at any given time. And that’s just the truth of it. Its important that potential clients know that, so that they have ALL the information when making a decision.

    I think the choice to use fear requires fine discretion for me. Like you said, is it actually going to help or hurt more. And not just for my clients and readers, but for me! Is my ideal client someone who is constantly motivated by their fear? Probably not. But being human, I know they have some big ones that I can help them reclaim power over.
    XOO mwah kiss!

  48. There are some cases where the use of “Fear” is good I think.

    When the “Fear” is real — and is something that people really need an answer or solution to.

    One area where this is true is Nutrition – not just “Diet” – I mean Nutrition for Health. Yes, some marketing strategies may be using “Fear” to make something known about, but if it is true, then it is true — and giving real answers that work is valuable. Real Answers is, of course, relevant — and as a Nutritional Doctor I consulted with for years said — everyone is different and he had questionnaires and tests he based his consultations on (he said he could never write a book about what did, because everyone is different) — and, you know what, it did work. Of course, there was some real “Fear” there. He was recommended to me by someone I trusted. He had so much business, I am not sure how much “marketing strategies” he actually needed, but then what he did worked.

    So, if there is a real “Fear” — and you have real answers, then a “fear-based marketing strategy” is real and valuable – in whatever field. Besides, if someone has a “fear” — and you have the “answer” or “solution” that you know can work (at least for some people), then it is good to let people know you have it!!

  49. Wow! Talk about synchronicity. Just last night I was having a chat to my boss about sales conversions at the gym (I’m a Personal Trainer).

    He was giving me some tips on how to pick up clients, but I felt like he was using guilt (“don’t you care enough about your health to invest in a PT session?”) as a motivator in his sales pitch and it just didn’t sit well with me. I really believe that in order to succeed you need to be facing joy, not fear.

    So I love your idea of turning fear / pain / frustration into compassion and empathy for your clients. At the end of the day, Personal Training is a expertise service offered to help people live stronger, fitter, healthier lives. If someone has come to the gym feeling bad about themselves and are looking for motivation, I can use that in a positive way to influence them to take up my services, rather than faffing about on their own and not achieving results.

    Thank you so much, Marie. You are truly inspiring! Oh, and congrats on the Webby Award – YAY! 😀

  50. I always wonder: Do I sell what you lose if you don’t buy? Or what you gain if you buy?

  51. I haven’t introduced the fear element in my marketing yet but maybe I could using the empathic style used by the graphic designer or perhaps a style which introduces fear of loss in a similarly constructive way.

  52. Hi Marie,
    Congrats on your award!!! Keep it up!
    For the #3 Social Proof, I upload customer photos (whenever they send them to me) of how they used my digital paper doll downloads in their own special ways. They send photos of my dolls being used in party centerpieces, as wall art, and in shadow boxes, etc. It gives other customers ideas plus it gives the previous customers a chance to showcase their talents online. And their enthusiasm keeps me motivated to design new stuff. So it is a win/win!

    Also, the photos give me a better idea of who is buying and why. Most people would think my customers buy my paper dolls for their kids and grandkids to make , but I am finding that most of my customers are adults who like making them for themselves.

    I even have some diehard male customers who have bought a lot of items. They collect them just like the women do. It was a good lesson for me…don’t stereotype who you customer is. Look for the real evidence in your feedback.

  53. Congratulations Marie TV!

    Great topic, thanks for all the helpful tips! It helped me change the way I think of “fear” tactics in marketing. When I first saw the title I immediately thought of a company that was trying to sell tickets for a makeup artist training event, and used some terrible fear tactics to try to get people to sign up. They sent me an insulting email telling me that I didn’t care about my career and wasn’t a professional makeup artist if I didn’t pay them $300 to attend their event! Needless to say I didn’t rush out to buy a ticket, but now, thanks to you,I know that there is are ethical and effective ways to use so called fear tactics to market my business. You’re the best!

  54. Always love your videos, Marie! These tips are some great ways to market yourself.

    When used carefully and thoughtfully, I think fear can be a good motivator. But at the same time, it’s something you don’t want to use too frequently or you could drive people away. Thanks for sharing both the benefits of using fear as well as some ways to market without using fear!

  55. Manu

    Having worked ans an IT specialist for an insurance company, I was faced with outsourcing strategies with all my IT collegues and our task was to proceed to the work transitions – and one of the outsourcing companies exclusively tried to tell us all the dangerous things that could happen if we did NOT do what they told us (AND cost a lot of money). It got so weird that we started to chat online during the conference mocking about the crazy ideas that were presented to us – who were the specialists in both business and IT processes that we talked about. The outsourcing company lost so much trust by trying and install fear in us, that the first processes that were transferred back were those governed by said company. Never install fear in your customers, they might not feel comfortable with you ….

  56. Marie Forleo!

    You seriously BLESSED ME the other day when you spoke such kinds words over my life via email. Thank you for that. You will never know how inspiring it was – and just how special it was to have you and Alexandra kickin’ good energy my way.

    I will treasure what you said to me… always.

    I love your energy. I love your blog. And I love you!

  57. Maricarmen

    Hey Marie,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I love your videos, your book, and your over all awesomeness!! I am a student majoring in Travel, Exposition, and Meeting Management. Although I am not an entrepreneur, I am able to apply your tips into my life. I LOVE your advice and the refreshing way you present it. Whenever I’m feeling not-so-great your book and videos lift my spirit, inspire me, and get me in the mood to get stuff done! Keep up the great work!!

    • What book? Marie has a book?! Amazon here I come…

      • Oh yeah! Make Every Man Want You… Well I’ve been married for years, so I’ll just have to wait till she comes out with a biz book. Now THAT I would no doubt inhale in one sitting!

  58. I took an online class today where they gave us 15 minutes during a Q & A session to purchase a product. If we purchased during the 15 minutes, we got a free bonus that ordinarily would have cost us. Very ethical fear tactic in my book!

  59. samantha Mitchell

    When i get cracking on my website…(i’m a new girl and you happen to be talking me through daily anxiety, surrounded by deranged scribbles in my P.J’s!!) I am a firm believer in prevention is better than cure, that doesn’t involve fear because you never get to the scary place……fence at the top of the cliff, not ambulance at the bottom …… Thanks for everything maria, nice to see madness works in innovative business : ) MWAA xx

  60. samantha Mitchell

    MARUE……MARVIN…….MARIE…….there we go…told you i was stressed ; )

  61. Pam

    Thank you, your info is always so great! I don’t like when fear-based marketing tactics are used, but sometimes they get me. I like the empathy based ones, are you sick of being sick and tired all of the time? Do you want more energy, to feel better, I have the solution…
    I want to be the solution for my clients problems. That’s the way to go for me. I also like to paint the picture of what it would be like to have more energy, accomplish everything you want to do, move past what’s holding you back.
    Another great video, thanks!

  62. Great Q&A! Private parties are often a place where one can emphasize with a client-WHAT IF THE MUSIC DOESN’T WORK OUT!!! I often emphasize and play to the importance of experienced musicians with a HUGE songlist and the savvy to “read” the crowd. I am pitching a Fourth Of July gig that runs five hours where I will suggest 3 music styles in one: trio and voice for the cocktail hour, background recorded music then the 19 piece Big Band with voice for Swing, a break followed by the Big Band with voice playing Soul music. In this case it is fear of boredom or a musical flop!
    But the client has the fear-in this case I have the happy solution to ensure a memorable party!

  63. In the business model I am trying to create, I will like to use risk reduction as a trigger to create sales.
    I want to teach financial management skills to professional women in Mexico.
    Your advice is just priceless for what I am trying to accomplish.

    Thank you very much / Muchas gracias

  64. Marie, congratulations on your award! YES YES!!! it’s so great to know that your hard work is being rewarded in additional ways to your adoring fans here!

    As for the topic: Fear marketing gets under my skin when I read blog posts that say: the number one way to blah blah blah. or Read this to change your life. etc. To me that’s not creative copy, it’s fear based and I don’t like it.

    Situations where ‘fear’ works on me is scarcity. Perfect example: your B-School. I watched your videos, fell in love with your game, am a proud disciple, and was chomping at the bit for B-School to be released. I didn’t realize what it was for the early admission or would have signed up right then! But your scarcity worked on me. I think the only reason it did though, is because I trust you implicitly already. If I thought your product wasn’t going to live up to the hype, I’d be annoyed at the scarcity tool.

    Thanks for these great suggestions. As always, you’re like the salt on my margarita glass — tart, sassy, and totally necessary!

    XOXOXO
    Sara

  65. Why would my business create Fear?

    My clients and I are in a relationship; I identify with them and their challenges. I help them, teach them. With new skills their confidence increases – No Fear.

  66. I know as a handmade artist scarcity is something that’s used a lot. Although most of us try to put it in a positive light as you mentioned, stressing that this version of whatever item is one of a kind so won’t be reproduced exactly. This makes the customer feel special and entitled (not at all bad things either!)

    I love the bit about communicating “what their life will be like after buying your offerings” and “speaking to their fantasy”. And you can’t go wrong with social proof – for many that can be the deciding factor! I know I will trust a personal review over a review from a stranger too!

  67. Thank you for teaching us that fear is not always a bad marketing strategy.

  68. Thank you still working on it, a bit of both I think.
    Love and Light
    Christine Kowal and The Animals

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