Try to Avoid FUD in Marketing Communications

I find it interesting how one industry trend / improvement can often lead to new problems.  Growing globalization of manufacturing systems is a trend that has been in place for well over a decade.  It has put a new threat on the table that isolated plants never faced – the threat of a cyber attack from remote locations.  This is a threat that will undoubtedly catch some manufacturers off guard, but, theoretically, this threat has been around for at least 10 years.

Having a perspective from working in the network security industry, administration and implementation of a new security system typically doesn’t just happen on its own, given the tight focus on improving bottom line results.  Often, it takes a cataclysmic event to warrant the additional, new expenditure on a security measure.  It takes a global “black eye” on the industry to get serious traction and attention by those not yet impacted by the event.

For Visa card merchants, it was the TJ Max high jacking of information from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards.  Hackers accessed customer information in a security breach that the discount retailer disclosed back in 2007.  See the story here. After this event, security became a top of mind event.

FUD_hammer1From a marketing perspective, there is no tougher topic to communicate and try to influence purchase behavior. The gatekeepers seem to have only a vague connection between what is happening to their competitors and what might happen at their own firm. With everyone over-worked today – often for less pay in our current recession / post-recession period, not many managers are looking to take on a new job or responsibility.

One thing for certain, the FUD approach doesn’t seem to work. Trying to use Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt to “hammer down” a purchase decision seems to backfire more often than not, leaving a bad taste in the mouth for those prospects you reach out to.  It is almost as if your reader doesn’t believe it, doesn’t want to believe it, or, if the numbers are so bad, can’t believe it. I have found that the best approach is to simply lay out the facts whenever possible, pointing to the probability of a serious event occurring, and how that likelihood of happening might impact that person’s company and job, as a “soft selling” message approach.

As an example, security is really a preventative purchase rather than a “threat” one. So, perhaps it should be viewed as an insurance cost to manage or mitigate risk.  Therefore, the right person to speak with is not the IT manager whose job will be harder to implement a new system, but rather, the one who is responsible for managing the company’s risk.  This might instead be the CFO or controller, but most likely, will be someone in the corporate office, rather than an IT or single plant manager.

The first key to effective marketing communications is to understand who the best person to speak to is.  With that settled you can then figure out how to write with the appropriate message, tone and wording to get their attention.  This can be the first step to building credibility as a trusted adviser – a company that your prospect wants to do business with. A trusted adviser doesn’t try to scare their client into doing something. Instead, they try to offer insights to trends and analytical support to help them make the best decision given the current environment and knowledge available.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.

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Gordon Benzie

Gordon Benzie is a marketing, communications and public relations consultant that is passionate about elevating brand awareness. He builds corporate narratives, writes business plans, and identifies unique value propositions. This intelligence can then be used to define and execute PR and awareness plans that improve sales and marketing effectiveness.

7 thoughts on “Try to Avoid FUD in Marketing Communications”

  1. Hi,thanks for the blog post. Infos are pretty usefull and saved me many time which I spend on something else instead of searching 🙂 Im waiting for more, bye 🙂

    – Myah SHACKELFORD

  2. Particularly beautifully written posts on your site. I came across these trying to find a fix to a different issue and sort of lost track of time. I hope you’ll persist in putting up fantastic articles for everyone to read!

    – Mariela URBINA

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