In marketing, we’re often taught that being negative is a bad thing. They tell us to stay away from negative words and to always spin things in a positive light. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a positive approach, the truth is negative approaches are often just as effective, if not more effective, in many cases.
Remember, great copy connects with the reader right where they’re at. It’s about identifying with their situation. Many times, you can do this with the highest level of accuracy if you pinpoint what’s bugging him, rather than the solution. It’s all about connecting on an emotional level, and there are plenty of powerful negative emotions you can use to your advantage.
Consider the fear of loss. It’s a powerful motivator that can cause your readers to snap into action. Fear of loss is a feeling you create that tells readers if they don’t take action now they will be missing out on something very important to them. It could be money, health, social status, etc. In many cases, the fear of losing out on something is much more powerful than the desire to gain something. That’s because gaining something sounds like work and might not be realistic, but losing something requires your immediate attention for survival.
Fear in general is a powerful emotion that can yield great results when used properly. Consider political campaigns. In Bush’s 2004 reelection bid, one of his major tactics was to remind voters of 9/11 and terrorism, essentially saying that if they don’t vote for him, they may not be protected against future terrorist acts. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Daisy” ad—a groundbreaking, controversial political ad that shows a girl standing in a meadow just before a nuclear explosion—played a significant role in his landslide victory, despite only airing once.
The point? Don’t be afraid to be negative. In the right situation, using a negative approach can prompt customers to take action.