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  Hopes and Fears

Hope is the most precious commodity that we seek. Fear is the absence of hope. These two emotions drive our decision-making. Your customers decide to buy (or not buy) from you based on how well you address (or fail to address) their hopes and fears.

Be aware that these two emotions often over-ride logical thinking. If you are only offering your prospects logical reasons to buy from you – you are missing the biggest opportunity of reaching your prospects.

You might have noticed that people often get motivated to improve their health right after they or someone close to them suffers a life-threatening incident. Bob recovers from a heart attack then decides to lose 30 pounds. Susan is diagnosed with cancer and decides to quit smoking.

In both of these cases the strongest motivator is the fear of dying. The coupled emotion is the hope to live longer. The logic of maintaining their health did not change. If you were selling a healthy lifestyle to them before these incidents they might not have been interested in buying. But after the life-threatening incident you would have a very interested customer. You could argue that there are some who face heart attack or cancer and do not change their lifestyle. Why is that? Are they stupid? Not necessarily. There is no logic to hopes and fears. It could be that they fear more the change they would need to make and perhaps even more they fear the potential failure of not being able to successfully change.
So how does this help you with your marketing? To be successful with your marketing (successful marketing helps you sell more) you must understand and address the hopes and fears of your prospects and customers. Don’t abuse people. The question is not, “Should you play on people’s fears and hopes?” The question is, “How can you understand the fears and hopes of your customers to serve them better?” And yes I suggest that you do this in a tasteful and ethical manner.

The insurance industry is clearly built on these two emotions. We buy insurance because of the fear of loss and the hope that we or our loved ones can recover from that loss.

I remember when you could buy flight insurance before you boarded a plane. My grandmother would buy it before her flights to visit relatives in Europe. It struck me as faulty logic in buying that life insurance. However when I look at how frightened she was by flying her purchase decision seems sound. Her way of dealing with the fear of flying was to buy the life insurance.

As someone who flies regularly and still has a fear of flying I know that my fear is illogical. But it is a real fear for me. I sit in an aisle seat and bury my thoughts in a good book and I hope for smooth flight. Notice that I hope for smooth flight – not a safe flight. That’s not logical. Is it? Your logic might not agree with your customers’ logic. The entertainment business is worth billions of dollars. This is an industry built entirely on people’s hopes and fears. Pick your favourite movie or TV show. Can you imagine yourself in the lead role? Did you hope for their prowess, special powers, looks, luck or companions? I’ve seen myself on the deck of the Starship Enterprise, swinging on a web like Spider-man and saving the world like Bond, James Bond. The success of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” is clearly about hoping to win the money.

Hopes and fears drive major decisions and actions. We change governments based on hope to change. We go to war because of fear. Religions are built on hopes and fears. It is not that decisions based on hopes and fears are wrong. Just be aware of how strong these motivators are.

Your customers will buy from you if you offer more hope – or more specific hope than your competition. How can you leverage the hopes and fears of your customers to help build your business?

First understand why customers buy from you. Know the hopes that buying from you provides. Is it the hope that you provide dependable service? Are they hoping that you are faster than your competition thus saving them from downtime? Are they hoping for your technology to help them save time? Does your restaurant offer them the hope of a unique experience? Are they hoping to make more money after they implement your business solution?

Use the “Checklist of More than 50 Common Hopes”. You can get your free copy of this checklist by sending an email to Hopes@Torok.com. You will receive your checklist within minutes.

Go through this checklist and mark the hopes that you think apply to your customers. Then trim the list to about five. Then rank them by priority. Verify this with a few of your best and most trusted customers. Examine everything you do to offer and justify these top hopes. Study your marketing messages to ensure that you offer these key hopes. Remember no-one hopes to buy your product. They hope for what your product will bring them. It is the difference between features and benefits. We want benefits – so focus on the benefits. Teenagers don’t want a cell phone. They hope for the sense of importance, belonging and play that the cell phone offers them. When executives hire me to coach them on their presentation skills, they don’t want a speech coach. They hope for the ability to get their message across so they can get more from their staff, their investors and their customers.

Then similarly review the list again for the hopes that might prevent people from buying from you. For example if buying from you means a big change you might need to address their hope for stability.

Offer hope to your customers. Offer the hopes that motivate them to buy from you. Address the fears and conflicting hopes that might prevent them from buying from you.


© George Torok offers his customers the hope to get more. He helps them to achieve this by enhancing their marketing and communication skills. When you deliver your messages clearly, distinctly and memorably – you will get more. He is the co-author of the national bestseller, Secrets of Power Marketing. You can register at www.Torok.com to receive his monthly tips by e-postcard. To arrange a keynote speech or coaching program call 905-335-1997