Fear inducing marketingThis week’s blog is by Will Edridge, an up and coming copywriter who I currently have the pleasure of working with.

I recently bought a new game, it’s a bit old school, and I bought it to relax and unwind.  Now, Dead Space, if you’ve heard of it, definitely was a mistake when it came to relaxing.  Seriously, this game is scary. Hide under the quilt because, “deep under the covers, nothing can hurt you” kinda scary. But, there are some clever marketing lessons to learn from a game like this.

The game is a survival horror, following the story of an engineer named Isaac Clarke. After heading to a mining starship to make repairs, he finds himself alone, battling an alien scourge.  Sounds devilish enough, but the reason it’s so scary is because it masterfully plays on the three distinct types of fear as described by story-telling legend, Stephen King.  These are:

Horror, which is the unnatural, its zombies, demonic horses and spiders the size of cars.

Terror, the feeling something is wrong, feeling like there is something behind you, something you can almost hear, smell, taste and touch, but when you notice it… it’s gone.

Finally, the third type, being “grossed-out”…. Like seeing a severed head tumbling towards you… it’s the gory kind of fear where you know it’s going down.

Those aren’t the only types of fear though, and used correctly fear can be a serious motivator for action for your target market.

Copywriters, are taught to layer benefits and keep digging down until they hit the benefit that rings their prospects bells, floats their boat and plucks their turkey.

But, the other option is to agitate the problem. And, by this I don’t mean threatening your prospects in a similar way to how Isaac’s life is threatened by monstrous aliens every time he walks around a corner…or not… part of the fear in the game is never quite knowing when something is going to happen.

Ethically and Effectively Scaring Your Target Market

There are a few different types of fear you can use to rub salt in your markets wounds…

The fear of missing out… you can convince someone to buy purely because they don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have something.

The fear of losing what you already have such as your health and possessions.

Or even the fear of a future threat. One that hasn’t even manifested itself yet.

These are examples of how just one of our most primitive emotional drivers can be used to manipulate us into taking action. And, when it came to playing Dead Space, I kept playing till I knew Isaac was safe… and then kept playing to see how the story unfolded. It was a vicious cycle.

Now it’s no secret that the emotional part of our brain is far stronger than the logical and rational part, so, by making strong appeals to these drivers you can make a sizeable difference in the success of your advertising.

The trick is to make the threat real, personal and easily solvable by using your products or services.

In fact, writing copy is pretty easy… the hard part is understanding your audience enough to use these concepts effectively…

D’ya wanna know the really scary thing?  There’s only a handful of marketers that actually understand these basic concepts.

Stay frosty my friends,

Will Edridge