Mon, February 04 2008

What’s your appeal—fear, hope or love?

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Seth Godin has a superlative blog entry today.  In the unlikely event you haven’t heard of Seth, he’s author of the classic Purple Cow, the new Meatball Sundae and one of my favorite writers on marketing.  He says:

People take action (mostly) based on one of three emotions:


Every successful marketer (including politicians) takes advantage of at least one of these basic needs.

Forbes Magazine, for example, is for people who hope to make more money.

Rudy Giuliani was the fear candidate. He tried to turn fear into love, but failed.

Few products or services succeed out of love. People are too selfish for an emotion that selfless, most of the time.

It’s interesting to think about the way certain categories gravitate to various emotions. Doctors selling check ups, of course, are in the fear business (while oncologists certainly sell hope). Restaurants have had a hard time selling fear (healthy places don’t do so well). Singles bars certainly thrive on selling hope.

Google, amazingly quickly, became a beloved brand, something many people see as bigger than themselves, something bigger than hope. Apple lives in this arena as well. I think if you deliver hope for a long time (and deliver on it sometimes) you can graduate to love.

Very interesting.

I think fear is not a great motivator for good causes, unless you can also pair fear with a way to resolve the situation that is terrifying.  This is why health scares often work to get people to change their health behaviors.  Too much fear and negativity will make people feel helpless or perceive that your issue is intractable.  Fear often prompts a person to cower or take cover.  Give people the feeling that they have the power to help or change a situation. 

By contrast, hope can make you commit.  Hope is a big winner for us.  Everyone wants to feel hope, and we are all about hope in our field.  I hope you are making hope a big part of the way you talk about your programs.

Love is possible for us.  If Google - a search engine - evokes that kind of emotion, we damn well can too.  IF we do a good job fulfilling our mission.  IF we do a great job telling our story.  IF we do a better job reporting back to donors what they’ve done for others.  IF we build lasting, two-way relationships with the people who support us.  Do people love your organization?  They will if you do these things.  I hope you do!


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