“Fear-based messages spread faster than any other type,” said Martin Lindstrom, a consumer behavior expert quoted in Adweek magazine.
Sales of hand sanitizer spiked with the Ebola scare, Cipro use spiked after the anthrax scare, and when Zika hit the news cycle, sales of insect repellent skyrocketed by more than 50%. In marketing, we’ve all been told to find a problem and solve it for consumers–from bad breath to H1N1. When the issues are extremely serious, it’s not easy to be helpful and not appear to be overtly capitalizing on an negative issue at the same time.
In healthcare advertising, it is difficult to walk this fine line. The best way is to not fan the flames of fear. Direct, non-hyped information is better received. Educational advertising is best when mixed with true stories and real-patient testimonials. You may not be the next social media hit, but you will better serve your potential patients and your brand long-term. Hyperbole, exposed for what it is on the internet, needs to be avoided at all costs.
Fear mongering does sell. But it also erodes credibility and destroys trust. Fear travels fast, but trust wins the race.