Market Snapshot


All buying decisions are made based on emotion, as are all decisions NOT to buy, according to Larry Merserearu—small business consultant, speaker and author in the field of marketing and promotion.

Emotions fall under two general categories: fear and greed. Almost any product can be advertised using either emotion. But if you really want to get your prospects’ interest, fear is the more powerful of the two.

Give your products and services some thought. What will be better about your prospects’ lives after they start using them? Will they be healthier, wealthier, wiser? That’s greed. They want to benefit that comes with using or owning your product. You arouse their interest by telling them how their life will be better.

What will they miss out on if they don’t buy? The more painful and dramatic you can make it, the more fear appeal you’ll arouse.

A landscaper selling lawn maintenance can promote the beautiful lawn the prospect will enjoy or talk about the misery of mowing and weeding their own lawn if they don’t buy. Talk about how much more golf and pool time they’ll enjoy, and you’re appealing to greed. Show a photo of an overgrown lawn full of dandelions, and you’re playing on fear.

The fear approach gives them a headache, and then offers your product or service as aspirin. People are more likely to be motivated to take fast action if it will alleviate perceived pain.

Greed motivation often takes longer to move people. That’s why direct-response advertisers like fear. They want to make their prospect pick up the phone immediately. If you want immediate response, start giving your prospects a headache.

Now, about the decision NOT to buy. If they fear that there is significant risk in buying, fear will make them say “no.” If they don’t see more value in the product or service than the cash they’ll have to part with to own it, greed will make them hang on to the cash.

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Source: Larry Mersereau (May 8, 2007). Fear vs. Greed. “Bringing In More Business…”(electronic newsletter).