Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.



Marketing to Base Motivations

One of the wonderful things about working in marketing communications is that I get to dabble in the noble art of persuasion. I'm fascinated by why people do the things they do. And I'm equally fascinated with how communication in any form can motivate people to act.

Following up on last week's post, I think the reason there is so much fear-mongering is that it's so easy. It's much easier for Sen. Kerry to say that Bush would be to blame for thousands of possible flu deaths than it is to convince Americans that his own health care policy should get him elected. It's much easier for Pres. Bush to get us to fear Saddam Hussein's ability to share weapons of mass destruction with terrorists than to convince us that deposing a despot and building a democracy in the Middle East is better not only for America but for the entire world.

We marketers use fear and other base motivations all the time. Writing promotional copy for a conference, I've used the phrase "this is a conference you can't afford to miss" many times. The implication is if you don't attend, you won't get essential information, or worse, your competitor will.

The marketing profession more often than not motivates using these lower motivators including: The problem is these type of motivators make empty promises. In the end, Merrill Lynch won't make you rich, Bud Light won't get you the girl, Carnival Cruise Lines won't make you happy and attending my company's conference won't make the difference between success and failure.

Is it any wonder that marketing, advertising and PR is becoming less and less effective?

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