Should you use the fear of recession in your copywriting this year?

storm clouds

People are becoming afraid of spending money. The threat of a recession on both sides of the pond and the global credit crunch means it’s getting harder to coax credit cards out of people’s wallets.

Shoppers are staying at home and businesses are revising their spending plans. Does this mean copywriters need to rethink which buttons to push to sell their products and services?

Is fear taking over from desire as the dominant emotion that will drive people to take action?

This question was inspired by a recent post by Seth Godin in which he questioned whether marketers should reconsider the stories they’re telling people. The product hasn’t changed but the stories you tell need to be different under a gloomier economic climate.

Whilst a $4 cup of coffee was a symbol of confidence in your earnings a few years ago it’s now a small indulgence you allow yourself after downgrading your apartment.

Copywriting is all about appealing to emotions, rather than purely logic. You tell people why a product will make them more successful, more popular or richer so they can justify a purchase because you’ve convinced them it will improve their lives.

In general, it’s the positive emotions of desire that will inspire people to respond to your words. Spending money is a proactive reaction, rather than defensive.

The Yin to desire’s Yang is that of the fear of loss and what can happen if you don’t buy a water purifier or take advantage of a limited time offer on Dimoxonil magical hair growth.

Making people afraid of missing out or what can happen if they don’t take action can be a powerful emotional trigger.

It’s the weapon of choice for many politicians.

Politics has never been more heavily influenced by marketing and telling stories to make people afraid. In this post, copywriter Peter Hobday compared Tony Blair’s speech on Iraq’s WMD threat to a long sales letter designed to make people afraid of what can happen if they don’t respond to his call to arms/action.

The success of Blair’s speech in building support for the war amongst voters says as much about the power of fear as it does about his speech writing.

So if people are afraid of spending money and are now revising their expectations this year, is appealing to their desires for wealth, popularity and happiness going to succeed?

Or should your copywriting make people afraid of losing their dignity or losing a competitive advantage under the approaching storm clouds of a recession?

Is spending money still a reward or a way of staying out of trouble?

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