The fear of losing something motivates people more than the prospect of gaining something of equal value, observes Rolf Dobelli in The Art of Thinking Clearly. “We can’t fight it: Evil is more powerful and more plentiful than good, Dobelli concludes.
As an example, suppose your business is home insulation. Dobelli suggests that the most effective way to encourage customers to purchase your product is to tell them how much money they are losing (as opposed to how much money they would save if they had insulation, even though the amount is the same!)
People are drawn to articles with negative titles, my friend and fellow blogger Lorraine Ball pointed out a year ago. Posts with negative titles stand out in a blog roll, on a Twitter feed or LinkedIn page, and the negative posts are more likely to be shared, retweeted and read.
The two dominant buying motives are desire for gain and fear of loss, Salesforce teaches, and most salespeople use the wrong one when trying to motivate a prospect to buy.
1. (Positive): “This backup unit will store all your important data in case of a crash.”
2. (Negative): “A backup unit could keep you from losing tons of data and days of lost productivity.”
Shift the emphasis from the desire for gain to the fear of loss, Salesforce advises.
Coming out firmly on the other side of the fear spectrum is Jack Schafer, who writes in Psychology Today that “The Hope of Winning Trumps the Fear of Losing”. Hope, Schafer says, motivates and energizes, while the fear of losing becomes an obstacle to success. As an ex-FBI agent, Schafer specializes in behavior analysis and teaches how to influence people and turn on the “like switch”.
“The easiest way to build a brand is to sell fear,” says Seth Godin. “The best way, though, may be to deliver on hope while aiming for love…”.