Do You Remember How to Sell Hope?

Do You Remember How to Sell Hope?

By now it’s common knowledge that Russian agents managed to manipulate the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere using social media and well-designed, properly placed messages.  They pushed and pushed and pushed on that fear button, eventually turning us against one another and busting an already fragmented country into a million pieces.

Russia sold us fear, they sold us anxiety, they sold us on reacting to a perceived threat.  Of course, we’ve been fed these same ideas before, but never with so much gusto. Why am I bringing this whole Russia Thing into this blog?  Well, it matters…

We Bought Fear, and We Buy It Daily

Russia sold fear, but we bought it.  And we bought it because too many marketers have nothing else in their bags these days.  “Don’t miss this thing! You’ll probably die if you do!” I mean, I’ve not seen that particular message, but I’d not be shocked if I did.  And, frankly, it’ll probably convert. But do you ever stop to wonder what the long-term effect on the public will be from pushing that fear all the time?

I do.  Maybe that makes me a bad professional, but I think we can sell stuff and still maintain some level of dignity while we do it.  Informational sales, for example, don’t rely on fear and panic. It’s all about identifying who is ready to buy a product or service and giving them the information they need to make the right choice.  Of course, as an expert in that item, you’ll explain and recommend, much like a refrigerator-toting Yoda.

To me, this is the bare minimum we should be expecting from ourselves.  Just the facts, nothing more. No fear, we have lots of refrigerators. No rush, I’m here for you.  It might not cause a huge spike in demand right away, but a slow-building hustle can be far more secure than a rapid-fire sales week.

Selling Hope

There was a time when it was still acceptable to sell hope.  Buy this bag of chips and you’ll reduce your calorie intake and thus lose those last five pounds, choose this insurance company and get your claims processed faster, pick up the phone now and we’ll give you a bonus gift!  Maybe it’s not huge, super amazing hopey-changey stuff, but there’s something positive about each of those messages.

If there’s a workable alternative to fear, why are we leaning so hard on the panic button these days?  Why do we do that to ourselves and to our potential leads?

Hope Is a Powerful Force

I had a discussion with a potential client once, after having been immersed for weeks in a project that was all Fear Buttony.  Naturally, when we discussed the sales part of the plan, I was gung-ho for the Fear Button. It was in front of me, and it was all I could see.

But he wasn’t having it — he wanted hope.  And that was when I realized I was going about everything wrong.  Instead of inciting more panic among the masses, even if it was just tiny panics, I needed to plant seeds of hope.  Sometimes hope is hard to find, but if you look, it’s always there.

Sorry, I know I sound like an inspirational poster.

Incorporating More Hope in Online Marketing

I’m not at all saying that you should get rid of your limited-time offers and other fear-inducing hooks, but I am advocating for selling hope where you can.  Here are some examples:

  • Need a divorce?  Call my family law client to get a start on your new life.
  • Don’t worry, we can find a mortgage loan that fits your needs.  Give us a call to learn more.
  • Struggling to remember hope?  Just read this blog and a few ideas will crop up.

I can’t hit this point hard enough.  We can help turn things around throughout the social strata if we (as an industry) focus harder on the hope bit and get off that fear button.  Fear is a tool that should be used sparingly, not so often that the entire country is eating Xanax like it’s Pez.

If you ever wondered whether marketing really mattered beyond your company or client, think about those clever, dastardly Russians.  It was a marketing job start to finish, and one that was incredibly successful at dividing the public, setting family against family and ultimately achieving the questionable goals of the campaign.