Thoughts From The Cloud: Selling Hope
“Bring me all of your dreams,
Bring me all your
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.”
~ Langston Hughes
A few months ago I was having a meeting with a client and the subject of emotional marketing appeals came up. Now, I’d been working with a fella who was really good at the fear button — it was his favorite (he got better), so I was kind of in a “fear” mindset. OMG! Hurry! This offer is over soon! (There will probably be another, so don’t panic yet) You know the kind.
That being said, I must have been working the fear button too hard because the client said something to me that I’m not sure I’ll ever shake loose. Not because it was new, but because I had lost myself in the fear button and didn’t realize how deep in I truly was. He said he wanted to sell hope, not fear. And it’s a perfectly valid emotion, both to sell and to have. In fact, it’s probably the best emotion to have in many situations.
Since then, I’ve been looking at marketing pieces differently. I do see so many that sell fear, panic, urgency, but not so many that sell hope. I’m not really sure why, except that we’re all living in an anxiety-provoking environment with fear around every corner. Maybe collectively we’re just too used to it, like I was. But hope sells just as well as fear.
Selling Hope: My Perspective
Like Hell, you say. If my leads aren’t terrified, they’re not alive!
That may be true, and they may be terrified, but the thing to do is not to sell them more terror. It’s to alleviate that fear. Become a safe haven for your niche. Be the go-to guy (or lady). Be the one thing they can depend on when the storm comes.
Right now, things aren’t great for anybody, not really, and those leads will need a safe haven at some point. Who are they going to come to for that? The guy who demands they buy or their arms will fall off, or the one who says not to worry, things will be fine, just check out this thing to enhance your arm adhesion.
Ok, that example may only work for action figures, but I’m going with it because it’s Labor Day and frankly, I need a nap.
Hope, though. Hope is what we’re going on about here. There are plenty of other emotions to tap into when you’re marketing stuff. You can stroke the ego, you can sexualize your message (sex sells, baby!) — pick an emotion and there’s a way to use it for some product or service. But hope. Hope is special.
Hope appeals to absolutely everyone. From the most downtrodden minimum wage earner to the CEO of a Fortune 500, hope is what keeps all of us getting up in the morning. Even if you’re suffering from crippling depression, some part of you hopes or you’d not be reading this. Maybe you hope for another day to end, but hey, it’s still hope — it’s a bit unpredictable like that.
How Do We Use Hope in Marketing?
Down to the nitty and the gritty, as the kids say. How do we use hope, this beautiful thing that is essentially effective in every situation? It’s simple. It’s so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t realize how useful hope was. Hopes and dreams, my friend.
Hope frames a product or service as the solution, no matter the problem. Do you have a lot of laundry to do? Well, don’t worry, you’ve got this with the Laundromatic 1000. (Now with more sharks with frikkin’ lasers on their heads.)
Hope shows a way out. Don’t worry about the financial bind you’re in, our friendly and fair bankers at Banks R Us will find you a consolidation loan with terms you can handle. Don’t stress out, we’ve got you.
Hope makes dreams possible. Already budgeting your tax return money? Come and see what’s possible for less than you might imagine at Pools 4 U.
Hope is powerful. Hope is everything. Hope creates life and opportunity and really, everything we do. We, as business owners and marketers, go out into the world (or internet, as the case may be) every day just hoping for the next good lead. The next company with an interesting project or a compelling service or even a fresh perspective on their niche. Hope springs eternal, especially in America.
If you think about it, hope is what brought many of our ancestors here. They didn’t know what they’d find, but they hoped. They hoped for more. (The various abuses of native people was an unfortunate side effect that we can’t ignore. Please don’t think I’m approving of or ignoring that part of the equation) My ancestors, yours, they left the world they knew behind because of a handbill or a letter from someone already in North America and got on a crowded boat to journey so far from home that it would be difficult to return.
Now that’s fucking hope.
Sell an Oceanic Voyage on a Leaky Boat TODAY!
Next time you want to get a little lazy and just lean on that fear button with all you’ve got, take a step back. Ask yourself if that’s really what you want to do. Now that it’s been pointed out to me, I see the fear button everywhere, in places where it’s not even appropriate. “ALMOST OUT OF PEANUT BUTTER?!? HIT THIS BUTTON TO REORDER NOW!!”
InstaCart has emotional issues.
Instead of hitting your fear button right away as your default go-to, put a little more effort in the product. Remember, marketers in the Colonial period were selling weeks-long trips across the Atlantic in poorly maintained tubs barely suited for travel to Europeans whose only drive was hope. They wanted more out of life, they hoped. They hoped and they bought passage to another place where they were going to have a better life. They bought hope by the basketful.
They weren’t afraid, I mean, not beyond what you should be afraid of on the open ocean, like Jaws and powerful Sharknados, they were hopeful. I think that’s something we’re missing these days.
For me, it’s going to be hope. I’m putting hope first. Sure, fear can be necessary to spur action, I’m not saying it isn’t. But it’s not the only tool in your arsenal. Not by a long shot.
We, like the rest of the media world, have a responsibility to help rebuild the trust and souls of those who follow our material, who use our products and who buy our services. The last two years have been heavily fear-buttoned by a certain group of Russians who will go unnamed — we’ve been programmed to spiral out of control with the touch of a feather.
The end of this nonsense starts with us.
We must sell hope instead of fear.