News Flash — the economy is bad.
Oh wait. You know that already? So, I’m not sharing anything new?
My good friend Nancy Marmolejo, VivaVisibilityblog.com, asked her social networking followers if people should be using the bad economy to market their products and services. The answers that came back were for the most part against doing that.
Well, that got me thinking. Is it a good idea to talk about the economy and get into the fear and negativity, or not?
The answer isn’t quite so straightforward. (Which you probably guessed.) But to explain, let me start by giving you some quick background.
First off, fear and negativity does sell. People will move away from pain more than they’ll move towards pleasure. And that makes sense, when you think about it from our cavemen days. We would have a need, maybe it was hunger, maybe we were cold, and that was what we focused on until it was satisfied (i.e. we looked for food or built a fire). But once we had that need satisfied, we didn’t keep focusing on it. We moved to the next pressing need, which maybe was running away from a saber tooth tiger or finding a mate.
We’re wired to deal with the pain first, until it’s solved, then we can tackle the next problem. We’re NOT programmed to keep focusing on something even after the pain has gone away.
Think of yourself right now. Let’s say your leg is NOT hurting right now. And it hasn’t hurt in a really long time. Are you doing anything right now to keep it from hurting in the future? (I’m guessing probably not.) And even if you do do things to keep your leg from hurting (i.e. exercise regularly) you would quit taking care of your leg that’s not bothering you in a heartbeat if, say, your arm started hurting.
Unfortunately, the economy right now is all about pain, so as a marketer you might decide to jump right up and start hitting the pain button.
Well…That may not be such a great idea either.
You see, most people are pretty savvy themselves when it comes to marketing. So if you blatantly get into that fear and negativity, especially if you then turn around and try and sell something, it will probably be a huge turn off.
But, there’s something else going on as well. You see, there’s another copywriting rule, which is whenever possible you should join the conversation in your prospects’ heads. What I mean by this, if your prospect is thinking at this moment about what he’s going to eat for dinner, your promotional piece should start out with some mouth-watering recipes. (By the way, this is why sending out promotional pieces that tie into the holidays work so well, because so you’re entering the conversation that’s already going on in your prospects’ heads.)
Now, if there are two things that are dominating many American’s thoughts right now, it’s the coming presidential election and the economy. The presidential election is a bit harder to work into promotional copy (besides you don’t necessarily want to turn off your prospects by getting into a debate about who you think should be the next president) but the economy is perfect. It’s got the fear/pain and you can’t get away from it.
In fact, it’s SO prevalent if you don’t talk about the economy at all, that doesn’t feel right either. Like you’re completely out of touch with the problems your prospects are going through right now.
So what do you do?
First off, make sure you understand where your prospect is coming from. And what I mean by that is HOW is the economy affecting your prospect right now? For instance, are you targeting a lower income prospect who is extremely worried about money, so that’s all their thinking about, or are you targeting a more affluent prospect where the economy is something to talk about, but it’s going to have to get pretty darn bad before it even starts to affect them? Are you targeting people who don’t want to focus on the bad but are making a pact to thrive no matter what the economy is doing? Are you targeting people sick to death of hearing about the economy and may strangle the next person who brings it up to them?
Once you know how it’s affecting them and how they’re thinking about it, then you can decide if and how much to address the economy in your marketing. Or if it even has a place in your campaigns. If you own a high end spa catering to a very affluent prospect, I probably wouldn’t say much (if anything) about the economy. And I certainly wouldn’t say something like “Bad economy sale — stretch your spa dollars for a limited time.” That is NOT the conversation your prospect is having in their head right now.
If you’re going to do it, make sure you do it smart. Otherwise all you’re doing is turning your prospects off.