“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” – Edmund Burke (A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756)

Direct-marketing gurus will tell you that people buy information products for one of two reasons: greed or fear. In my marketing seminars, I try to dispel that myth by pointing out all the other feelings that are involved in buying and selling (e.g., pride, shame, anxiety, loneliness, etc.).

The subject came up recently in a conversation with PG, one of the most successful copywriters in America. We were talking about marketing a service that would help people through the times ahead, which he sees as very bleak. When the conversation turned to how we would write the promotion, PG said, “One thing you don’t want to do is spend too much time trying to scare people.”

He went on to say that his success in selling fear-based products (any kind of problem-avoidance or problem-solution product) increased geometrically when he realized that “fear paralyzes people.”

Scaring people, briefly, might be a good way to get their attention, he acknowledged, “but the copywriter who leaves his customer too long in fear will end up with very low response rates.”

I believe this is a major insight. It corresponds to what I learned about selling health cures. You don’t want to dwell too long on the problems of cancer or heart disease. Your prospects understand this stuff. What you need to do is offer solutions – or “comfort,” as PG puts it.

When I think about all the fear-related products I’ve sold over the years and mentally inventory the successful and failed promotions I’ve worked on, I kick myself for not having discovered this simple but powerful marketing secret sooner.

Now it’s yours.