Don’t Get Left Behind: Fear-Based MSP Marketing Is No-Longer Relevant
Picture this: You read an advertisement that says X percent of people have a deadly disease that they’ll never know about until it’s too late because there are no symptoms.
“But!” The ad says, “With our new state-of-the-art at-home test, you can know without a doubt whether you are positive for this disease.”
You want the test, don’t you?
Heck, I want the test and I just made this up.
The point here is the kind of marketing that this fake ad is employing: Fear-based marketing, to be precise.
Fear-based marketing is used in nearly all industries and can be relatively effective. Basically, it’s the advertising tactic that scares the consumer into purchasing something.
Where MSPs are concerned, the most common fear-based marketing strategies center around scaring people into purchasing cybersecurity solutions because if they don’t, their company data, finances, customer and client information, and even their identities will be stolen. This is also called the FUD strategy. We say “F The Fud“
What Is FUD?
As it turns out, the idea of fear-based marketing actually comes from a psychological propaganda tactic called FUD. Short for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” FUD can be used by governments, public relations companies, marketing firms, and even cults.
The point is to make someone so scared or uncertain that they take action.
As you can see, however, this isn’t exactly a straightforwardly ethical approach to marketing, and that’s why it’s going out of style.
An increasing number of managed service providers are ditching the FUD style of advertising and are transitioning their marketing strategies to a more positive approach.
Top Reasons Fear-Based MSP Marketing May Not Always Be the Way to Go
We understand that it may be hard to accept that fear-based advertising is no longer the most popular way to go among managed service providers and their marketing strategies. That’s because well, we all know it works!
If you are a dentist with three office locations, and you hear that hackers would absolutely love to get their hands on your patient information and that other dentists in the area have had their data hacked and have completely gone under as a result, what are you going to do? You’ll probably buy the product and hire the managed service provider who says they can prevent that from happening, right?
From our perspective, it seems pretty cut and dry, but from the client’s perspective, it isn’t always so straightforward.
In fact, many people who hear fear-based marketing pitches like this will be turned off. Just as you probably switch off the TV whenever that Sarah McLachlan commercial with the poor suffering dogs comes on, many people don’t want to hear scary stories that are trying to make them buy something.
Furthermore, some of the biggest names in cybersecurity never use fear-based tactics to sell their brand. Why might that be? They obviously know something that the rest of us don’t.
For starters, here are some of the top reasons that fear-based marketing doesn’t always work:
Your brand will become associated with fear-mongering.
The reputation of your brand should be important to you. Unfortunately, if you become too invested in fear-mongering as your main marketing tactic, businesses may cease to do business with you.
This may be because they see through your fear tactics after a while and realize that the ideas you put in their heads initially were not so likely to occur in the first place. Or, it could be because potential clients are turned off to begin with.
Your potential clients already know the risks.
This is a simple explanation, but it’s worth noting. The companies you are hoping to nab as your clients already know that risk exists when it comes to cybersecurity. That’s why they’re looking for a managed service provider (if we’re talking strictly about cybersecurity, that is). You don’t have to drive it home that they should be worried about a cyber attack.
People prefer a positive spin over a negative one.
Anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that psychology plays a big role. In psychology, there are two main concepts revolving around behavior. That is, there are two core tactics that can be employed if you want someone to do something. One is negative reinforcement, and the other is positive reinforcement.
As the name implies, negative reinforcement means berating someone for not doing something correctly so as to get them to do the right thing the next time around. Conversely, positive reinforcement means encouraging someone and giving them positive affirmations to get them to do what you want.
These run parallel to fear-based marketing and positive marketing. In the end, both might work. Still, who doesn’t actually prefer positive reinforcement or positive marketing over negative reinforcement and negative marketing (fear-based marketing) most of the time?
How Can You Improve Your Marketing While Avoiding Relying on Fear-Based Strategies?
If your company is used to focusing on fear-based marketing tactics, here are some tips to drive your strategy elsewhere without losing customers.
#1 – Sometimes, you don’t have to eliminate fear-based marketing completely. Simply dial it back.
It’s okay to use some fear-based marketing tactics. It does work, after all. Just don’t make it all dark and gloomy.
Use just enough fear to elicit them to make a change in the way they handle their technology (which hopefully includes hiring your MSP).
#2 – Dish out a little fear … but then provide relief.
In the same vein, do let potential clients know that there are risks out there when it comes to having a bad MSP or no MSP at all. But then provide relief at the end of the tunnel by saying that you have simple solutions to help.
#3 – Understand where fear-based marketing should go (if it goes anywhere).
The concept of fear-based marketing can work at key points in your marketing strategy, but it can certainly be difficult to know where exactly you should be employing it. That’s where a great digital marketing firm comes in.
Ulistic has done the research required to know exactly when fear-based marketing works and when it doesn’t. We’ve helped MSPs of all backgrounds, sizes, and specialties employ this strategy sparingly yet effectively to win leads.
We can help you too. Contact Ulistic today to schedule a consultation.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.