What role does fear play in marketing?
Fear in crucial for survival. In your brain, the amygdala (shown below) is involved in emotional regulation, especially with respect to fear and aggression. Activity in the amygdala increases when people are shown threatening faces, are put into frightening situations, or experience social phobias. Damage to the amygdala can cause social and emotional disturbance.(1)
Different parts of the amygdala receive differing information. These incoming signals make the amygdala a continual sentinel, scrutinizing every sensory experience. From the amygdala, projections extend out to every major part of the brain, and the entire response sequence happens in roughly one second.(2)
The amygdala automatically and consistently scans people we encounter to determine whether they are safe and trustworthy, or if they pose a potential threat. The amygdala also links experiences with emotions. Because the amygdala is key in our survival, it can trigger responses from us outside of our conscious awareness.
Having an element of fear in your marketing initiative is one way to create an engaging experience. You have to be careful, however, to not create such fear that audiences now have a negative association with your product. The key is just enough to garner an emotional response and active awareness that creates an experience.
For example, when an alarm company has a commercial that includes an intruder breaking into a home, that's fear. If the intruder broke in and killed everyone, that's going too far.
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EMOTION DRIVES ACTION!