Sunday, April 14, 2024

Marketing Comfort and Fear for the Win

“No one ever got fired for buying Cisco” is one of my favorite business quotes. Better Marketing delves into the concept of fear-based marketing and how to effectively use it:

“When using fear-based marketing, it’s best to promote the negative consequences of not using the product than to show the positive outcomes of using it. Marketing in this capacity should not overreach or promote horrific consequences unless a strong position has been established (i.e the “Smoking Kills” campaigns). Be sure to show groups of people and togetherness in fear-based marketing so as to speak to the primal urge to seek comfort in difficult and scary situations.” 

But if you flip the coin on my favorite quote you will also find an element of comfort in the message: if you choose a Cisco product, you are ensured job security. I would argue that combining both fear and comfort into B2B marketing is an even more effective sales tool.

I once had the unique opportunity to use fear to sell a B2B solution. I was in a meeting with the review team who had already selected our service, and the director who was giving the final go-ahead. The salesperson assigned to the account was with me, so they could walk through everything one more time. After the director kept us waiting for 40 minutes in the conference room, she came in and promptly said, “I am thinking about going with this competitor,” who happened to be named after a dinosaur. That was all she said. I was surprised she had us travel to this meeting just to tell us that. As I thought about how to respond, I decided I didn’t want to waste my time explaining point by point why our company was better. 

So, closed my laptop, stood up, and said. “We are the leaders in the industry (and named the top five vendors in the industry who use us), if you want to tell your bosses you chose a company named for a dinosaur over us, go right ahead”. And I walked out to the dismay of everyone, including my salesperson. A week later we had the deal. 

At that moment I provided the director all that she needed, fear of choosing wrong, and comfort in knowing other top vendors use us as well. 

Applying this to our content marketing strategy means we need to think about how to gently express the fear, and then apply the comfort.  For example, would you rather have a channel enablement solution that has 5% usage or 40% usage? By showing 40% engagement rates we offer comfort to potential buyers knowing that others receive high value.  

The reality is we spend a lot of time thinking about awareness in our content marketing, but what is really needed? It is to comfort the fear of choosing wrong. What information can a buyer fall back on to defend a decision that leads to your product? Cyber security solutions have an easy and difficult time with this. The baseline for cyber security is fear of being compromised, but they too need to focus heavily on comfort.  

Let’s look at some of the article titles from PartnerOn that performed the best.

“Don’t let AI Security Risks out weight the benefits  – The title invokes fear and resolution.

“Hacker Hunting and Built-in Protections” – Similarly, this invokes fear and leads to a resolution that will bring comfort. 

“Thales and Google Cloud taking charge of solving the complexities of your data in the cloud” – While this one is less about fear, it does evoke comfort and provides a resolution to a challenge we all face.

Here are some recommendations for how I would structure messaging around content:

  1. Provide information that both addresses a concern and helps solve the problem, such as, “Hybrid work can be challenging, but these five steps will help improve productivity”.
  2. Offer recordings or webinars that address the fear. Today we will listen to what keeps top CIOs up at night, and how they ended those sleepless nights.
  3. Often B2B sales require meetings. Offer a counseling session: “Share with us your concerns around Hybrid Work, and we can develop the right solution together.” This should lead to an online or 1:1 meeting.

The challenge is consistently sharing so that the morning after the CIO’s sleepless night, your content is right in front of them, grabbing their attention, speaking to their fears, and comforting them with a solution. All you need to do is stay consistent and follow the path, and you will earn the win.

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