Fear: The Most Powerful Emotion on the Planet
In any other industry, these would be features. Only insurance marketers call them benefits.
How would a direct marketer use fear to sell insurance?
“Go for points of maximum anxiety,” counsels the great copywriter Bill Bonner who presides over the multimillion-dollar Agora Publishing.
In other words, get inside the heads of the people to whom you are writing, figure out what keeps them awake at three in the morning and feed on those fears. For example, chances are that they are wildly overextended financially and if anything happened to the breadwinner, the family would be evicted from their home and forced on to public assistance.
The benefits of having a $1 million term life policy: You can sleep soundly knowing that if the unthinkable happened, the mortgage would be paid and your family will be taken care of. They will remember you with love for your foresight and for the protection you gave them rather than with contempt for putting them out on the street.
The actual features of the policy are incidental to the sale.
Another Industry Based on Fear: Politics
Who can forget the gaffe that may have cost John Kerry the presidency when he said the following about the senate vote on the Iraq War, “I voted for it before I voted against it.” The Republicans replayed that line over and over again with lethal effect, scaring the voters into believing Kerry was a flip-flopper and therefore a danger. When Kerry refused to immediately dispute the Swift Boaters’ charges that his Vietnam medals were not earned, voters perceived that maybe those allegations were true and feared that Kerry was a liar and a coward that could not be trusted to support our troops in Iraq.
The 2004 presidential election was won on voter fear of John Kerry.