How “Scary” Sells With Fear Based Marketing


Can you scare customers into buying your product? Fear can actually sell as much as sex or desire since it will trigger people to take action.

According to Lea Dunn of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, when people feel alone and afraid, they form an emotional attachment to the brands around them. She states that in this heightened state, consumers are more likely to remember those products and think of them favorably.

Dunn says this happens because fear induces a need for human connections and if there are no people present, products fill the gap. She believes this emotional attachment happens because people think the product actually “shared” that experience with them.

In works in many sales situations. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Wyatt Woodsmallsaid that:

“If you can find out what people’s worst nightmare is, camp out inside their nightmare…[they’ll] do anything…to get out of that situation.”

News broadcasts have peddled fear based marketing for years. An insider rallying cry of the media has always been, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Famous brands use fear all the time to sell their products. For example:

  • L’Oreal’s tag line of “Because I’m Worth It” confronts self-loathing among women.
  • FedEx’s “Absolutely, Positively Overnight” addresses the fear of missing a deadline.
  • Nike’s “Just Do It” takes aim at missing out because the consumer is afraid.

Fortunately, you don’t need to rob prospects to sell them a home security system.  But you can scare them into buying.

Fear Based Marketing

FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

When I was at IBM in the 1980′s, they told us, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” This concept helped because I had to sell against competitors whose products seemed technologically similar to ours but always much cheaper.

I frequently used a fear based marketing technique that was called “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to direct the decision maker to buy IBM. In my sales calls, I recounted all the things that could go wrong if they chose a competitor. Fortunately, the decision maker many times chose IBM, despite the fact that we were more expensive, because we were perceived as the low-risk alternative.


Consumers are afraid of missing a deadline. This could be an expiration date of an offer, a holiday calendar deadline or other imposed cutoff date. Dates will push consumers to take action.

Note the surge of people signing up for insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act on March 31.


Consumers want to be a part of “a club” that not everyone gets into. Put up a gate and watch how many people want to get in. This is exactly what many buyers’ clubs like Costco do with their small membership fees. The fear based marketing message is that the consumer will miss out on some incredible deals if they are not a member.

Fear based marketing does not have to be all gloomy. Articulate the negative to what prospects are currently doing and provide a solution to alleviate that fear.


What is Heartbleed, anyway?

A Graphical Representation of How Heartbleed Works!!

Security bugs come and go and are usually fixed by updated software, but one very serious security vulnerability has recently been discovered, leaving huge amounts of private keys and other secrets exposed to the Internet. 

CVE-2014-0160, also known as Heartbleed, has been discovered in OpenSSL by a team of security engineers from Codenomicon and Google security researcher Neel Mehta. The vulnerability could give attackers access to a site’s secure data and the encryption keys protecting that data.

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software,” according to a website set up to educate people on the bug. “This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users, and the actual content.”

The bug has been dubbed Heartbleed because of how it affects OpenSSL’s implementation of the transport layer security protocol’s heartbeat extension (RFC 6520).

“When it is exploited, it leads to the leak of memory contents from the server to the client and from the client to the server,” according to the website. 

While the bug only affects OpenSSL’s 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 beta release, OpenSSL is a part of everyone’s life in one way or another. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are at the core of Internet security, making the Heartbleed bug very dangerous.

“OpenSSL is the most popular open-source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet,” said the Heartbleed site. “Your popular social site, your company’s site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from, or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL.” 

Software to fix the bug has already been released, but it may be too late. The vulnerable versions have been out for more than two years, and it is unknown whether the security researchers were the first to uncover the problem. 

According to the researchers, exploitation of the bug doesn’t leave any traces of anything abnormal in logs. 

“We have tested some of our own services from [an] attacker’s perspective,” researchers wrote on the Heartbleed site. “We attacked ourselves from outside, without leaving a trace. Without using any privileged information or credentials, we were able steal from ourselves the secret keys used for our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, e-mails, and business-critical documents and communication.” 

The researchers suggested deploying TLS/DTLS honeypots in order to entrap attackers and alert about exploitation attempts. 

“Although this is painful for the security community, we can rest assured that [the] infrastructure of the cyber criminals and their secrets have been exposed as well,” the researchers wrote. 


What do IT workers want?

• Base pay: 49%
• Job stability: 45%
• Benefits: 36%
• Challenge of job/responsibility: 34%
• Vacation time/paid time off: 32%
• Flexible work schedule/telecommuting: 30%
• Job atmosphere/community: 28%
• My opinion and knowledge are valued: 28%
• Potential for career development: 19%
• Skills development/training opportunities: 19%
• Financial stability of organization: 19%
• Commuting distance/location: 18%
• Recognition for work well done: 18%
• Having the resources to do my job well: 16%
• Corporate culture and values: 16%
• Working with highly talented peers: 14%
• Working with leading-edge technology: 12%
• Effectiveness of immediate supervision: 10%
• How my work helps achieve organization
goals: 10%
• Bonus opportunities: 9%

Source: 2014 Computerworld IT Salary Survey; 3,648 respondents (up to 5 responses allowed)




Google kills fake anti-virus app that hit No. 1 on Play charts

Virus Shield“, an app that briefly shot to the top of the charts on Google Play, has turned out to be a complete fake and has therefore been pulled by Google.


The scam, turned up by Android Police, is as simple as a con-man could wish for: the app includes almost no functionality whatever, yet it was briefly a chart-topper on Google Play, something that at $US3.99 for the download.

 According to Appbrain, the software sailed past 10,000 downloads, putting its take at close to $US40,000 for nothing at all. The Register says “almost no functionality” because the app does just one thing: it changes its icon when you tap it, pretending to be checking your phone for viruses.

As Android Police says: “this is such a brazen and expensive fake that we felt the need to give it some special attention. It’s somewhat disheartening that an app so obviously fake could rise to the top, especially considering that it’s paid, and possibly hundreds or thousands of people have been defrauded already.”

To prove the point, they’ve posted the decompiled Java code at github.

El Reg would note that at least two of the claims made by the software – low battery consumption and no ads – are true. Along with the legitimate complaint that a scam app like this should never have made it onto Google Play, The Register would also ask why a developer could get away with apparently operating under a fake identity.

Smartphone chargers to be ‘universal’

multiple mobile charger

European politicians have voted for a new law to force phone manufacturers to use one type of charger, to make it easier to charge devices and to cut down on waste. The plans are expected to come into force in 2016, after which phone makers have a year to start offering the new charger. It’s likely that the design of choice will be Micro USB connectors – already used by many devices. The one sticking point could be Apple, which uses its own proprietary design, although the company supports the ‘universal’ idea.

So, it means is – No more fiddling with connectors to figure out which charger is the right one for your phone. It’s also likely that smartphones will stop coming with a dedicated charger, because you’ll already have one – meaning you won’t have old chargers clogging up your drawers.

Our only complaint is how long it’s taken to approve. The common charger idea has been in the works since 2009, and the shift won’t happen until 2017. Think of all the wasted plastic and electronics sitting in landfill – and the wasted time spent searching for the right connectors.

Bras to power your iPod
Wonder Bra!

How to buy the perfect pair of pants online

(Courtesy of eBay)

Getting clothes to properly fit an online shopper on the first try is a holy grail for retailers. Depending on the estimate, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of fashion e-commerce purchases are returned. That’s a remarkable inefficiency that can likely be improved.

If shoppers could find the right clothes more easily, they’d probably buy more online and return fewer items, which is exactly what merchants want. Brick-and-mortar stores will always have an advantage of letting customers actually try on items, but technology could help close the gap for online retailers.

The red shades indicate where the clothing fits tightly. (Courtesy of eBay)

PhiSix, a recent eBay acquisition, seeks to apply the digital effects you see in blockbuster films to e-commerce. The same technology that helps a computer-generated character in a film look realistic can help the average shopper find clothes that fit better.

While shoppers can’t yet benefit from the technology — eBay is still determining how to integrate PhiSix into its retail innovations efforts — it appears possible that it will eventually make the online shopping process better for consumers.

Let’s say a customer wants to buy a pair of pants online.

He or she could share waist size, inseam, height, weight and body build. PhiSix then would pair the body type with one of 20,000 mannequins. The clothing item a customer is interested in is then worn by the mannequin. PhiSix can provide a heat map as well, to point out where a snug piece of clothing will be most uncomfortable. Another feature shows a mannequin in motion — such as swinging a golf club — so one can see how a garment acts in real life.

(Courtesy of eBay)

To make this happen, clothes need to be scanned and uploaded into a database. PhiSix places the clothing item on graph paper and takes a photo of the front and back. A reference object — such as a CD or credit card — is included in the image to ensure the software knows the exact size of the clothing. This method allows it to quickly scan a significant amount of clothing.

Just as this technology could improve the online shopping experience, there’s potential in the world of physical retail as well. PhiSix co-founder Jonathan Su shared with me how it could make shopping at a mall easier and more enjoyable.

“I just ripped my pair of jeans. I need to go buy a new pair now,” Su said. “I care how I look but I don’t necessarily want to spend my whole day at a mall. You know my favorite pair of pants. Curate for me the 10 pair of pants that would fit in my entire mall. I’ll go try them on.”

He recalled hating going to the mall as a child with his mother to shop. What if she had all his measurements and could see the clothes on a 3D mannequin that’s exactly his size? Perhaps one day, boys and men around the world who hate the typical mall experience can happily stay at home.