Dwelling on the Negative? Sure, it Could be a Great Marketing Strategy

There’s a reason ten times more money is spent during political campaigns on negative ads than on positive ads. Can you guess what that reason is?

I suspect you got the answer right: Because negative ads work!

Researcher Joan Phillips says that it’s not so much different than why we pay much closer attention to the weather when a hurricane is coming than on a bright, sunny day.

“We pay more attention to negative information,” she says. “It’s more salient, it scares us, and we’re more likely to remember it.” (Dr. Joan Phillips)

This psychology is probably linked to others that you’ve heard such as the fact humans fear loss more than they crave gain. This has been proven by luxury goods companies that create scarcity through sky-high pricing, and at much lower levels such as insulation companies that don’t talk about how much you’ll “save” on insulation, but how much you’ll “LOSE” on your electric bill if you don’t insulate!

Most interior design marketing is profoundly positive. “We bring your dreams to life” and other such platitudes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) They also show beautiful before and after pictures and the impression is that everything throughout the project will be warm and fuzzy with lots of smiles and sunshine.

But what if your prospective client is more concerned about a bad outcome (loss) than a wonderful outcome (gain?) What if they would become more emotionally involved by the possibility of a disaster (a hurricane coming) than smiles and sunshine?

Of course you’re not going to suggest that a project managed by you might end in disaster, nor are you likely to name specific competitors. But what if you revealed the fact that with many generic designers, things do go off the rails?

How many things? Well, choose a number for the special report you’re about to write. For example, “The 7 Most Common Disasters During Interior Design Projects.”

This would actually be a quite easy (and maybe even fun) special report for you to write. And as you’re writing it, it’s going to become quite obvious (perhaps between the lines) that hiring you is a way to avoid those disasters.

When I talk about direct marketing, whether email or direct mail, I often state that one goal is to “…join the conversation in their mind.” This means that out of every 100 postcards, only about 7 recipients are likely to be thinking of an interiors project at that moment in time. Of those 7, you are trying to enter the conversation in their mind with your heading such as:

  • Thinking of a Kitchen Remodel?
  • Time to Update Your Home?
  • Want a Media Room to Die For?
  • Bring Your Indoor Living Outdoors

Maybe one or two out of the seven are having that exact thought at that exact time which is why direct marketing can be both frustrating (99 out of 100 misses seems dismal) and powerful (1 out of 100 hits is great!) But there are headings that might get the attention of all seven who are currently considering design projects. Consider:

  • The 7 Most Common Disasters During Interior Design Projects
  • Why Design Projects Fail and How to Ensure Success in Yours
  • Four Things You Must Know Before Investing Six Figures in Your Home
  • Why Most Interior Design Projects End in Misery

Of course you’ve got this special report available for them when they go to your website or call your office. And of course it positions you as their project and financial steward, as well as their choice for interior design.

This approach falls under the heading of “education based marketing,” something I’ll be writing much more about in the future as I think it offers a unique and valuable strategy for many members of The Edge.

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