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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fear,. Greed and Emotional Selling

This disturbing image, lifted from an intriguing blog Bits and Quotes, captures both fear and greed --undoubtedly powerful emotions, but when, and where, is it proper and effective to use these in the selling and marketing process?

When, if ever, should you use the twin emotions of fear and greed in your marketing and selling initiatives. Gurus Ford Harding and Sims Wyeth debate these points in some fascinating blog postings.

To make things more interesting, they extend the basic twin emotion set to "FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (Wyeth) and "GOG -- Greed, Opportunity and Glory" (Harding). Wyeth argues the that tackling the negative emotions is the way to go -- followed by the positive. Harding suggests that you need to look at the situation of your prospective client and then advance the solution based on the appropriate emotions reflecting the real situation; and be wary of ethical extremes especially when working with unsophisticated clients. Neither addresses the (very real) market segment of engineers in our industry, who seek and expect the marketer to use logic rather than emotion in making proposals.

At first impression, I favor Harding's approach, though the one-two-punch of raising fear then offering a greedy solution is close to perfect in the world of marketing, if the prospective client's actual circumstances match that profile (that is, something really scary is happening or about to happen, and your solution really will solve the problem and make your potential client rich, successful and famous.) Alas, this one-two punch is also the stuff of the con-artist since circumstances are rare where fear and opportunity validly coincide in truly stark and immediate contrast. There may be many valid fearful situations, but do you really have the magic bullet that will truly solve the problem and allow your potential client to rise to glory with your support?

When you have a potential client in that situation, you may need to take a highly risky approach yourself -- eschewing short term income/security for a longer-term relationship. Consultant Bill Caswell won that status with me when, as this business approached what appeared to be its final downward spiral two years ago, he arrived on the scene with a commitment that we would not need to pay him anything unless we were successful -- and the amount we would pay would be in line with regular consulting services; not some overpriced contingency-fee rip-off. To execute that approach, you need to be comfortable with both the the integrity of your potential client and your ability to patiently weather the storm -- as things rarely resolve as quickly as you would like.

Not mentioned in this debate is the potentially more important -- but truly long term -- issue of the quality of your personal relationships coupled with the competence of your work. In the marketing matrix, if you and your team of employees are enjoyable to work with, have smarts in your field, and are sensitive your clients real needs and emotions, you'll receive and sustain business with other, healthier emotions. Like love.

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