Does Fear Sell?


I work in food safety. Moreover, I work in food safety with small businesses trying to get local food into the hands of local consumers. These folks are 100% the opposite of highly marketed commodity items you find on most grocery store shelves. Their meats come from their farms, their recipes come from their families. They pay a lot of money for top shelf ingredients to re-create what someone would make in their own home. These folks are in the business of selling the virtue of their products and their lives.

But, here’s the reality. The leading cause of food businesses failing is a recall. It’s nothing short of miraculous that Blue Bell is still in business. And its never a good day when the Dept of Justice comes calling.

There are right ways and wrong ways to handle a recall. And there are ways to prepare. I sell services to for those efforts, and it is vastly cheaper to hire me to prep for a recall than it is to hire me to run a recall. Recalls are really stressful, for my clients and for me. I think it is so important that companies prepare well, I simply give away a recall planning guide on my website. Better to be prepared and not need me than to go through the stress of a recall.

When I was starting my business, I had lawyers and marketers tell me that I need to sell on that fear. People will buy my services because they are so afraid of a recall, they’ll do anything to prevent it. As it turns out, that isn’t actually true. Not once has someone said to me that they are hiring us because they don’t want to go through a recall. They hire us because they have a vision, they have a problem that we can solve. They have dreams and they want to grow. They don’t buy based on fear. I don’t know if this is like other sectors, but it’s sure true for mine.

It took me 2 years to figure out that despite what experts were telling me, that people were not buying on fear, but on hope. I feel really dumb because if I had just listened to my clients, starting from the very first one, I would have known this and probably be way ahead of where I am on my marketing. Don’t build your business on a negative, you’ll just invite stress. Solve a problem and create hope for your clients.