When Embarrassment Becomes Your Sales And Marketing Advantage

Rotten food, crumbs and mystery garbage littered our family car. My wife begged me to clean it. It’s the one thing she wanted for Mothers Day. I agreed. I opened the back door and took a good look. The car should be condemned. It needs professional cleaning.

I thought about taking it in. Give my wife a pristine car on Mother’s day. It makes a nice gift, right?

Here’s the problem. The extreme filth embarrassed me. I couldn’t bring it in. Has that ever happened to you?

“The car needs professional cleaning. I’ll clean it as best I can. I’m too embarrassed to bring it in now.” I told my wife

Time to start cleaning. I plugged in the shop vac. I put on some gloves and grabbed a garbage bag. A half hour later, we had a clean(ish) car. It was presentable enough to have someone else finish the job.

Two Fears That Light A Fire Under Our…

Do you ever act in a way or say something to avoid embarrassment or harsh judgment? Most of us do. In our house, we do a big cleanup the night before the cleaning person comes? We don’t want her to think we’re slobs.

Look up companies that market cures or treatments of embarrassing medical issues. Many of them stress that they package their products in plain boxes. I found one that even showed a picture of the packaging. They do this to prove something to the buyer:

“Yes, we know it’s embarrassing to order this stuff. Don’t worry. Nobody will ever know.”

Fear of embarrassment and harsh judgment powers more of our behavior than we like to admit. Both fears add firepower to your sales or marketing campaign.

How To Tap Into This Fear

You can use this in two ways.

First, let’s assume your buyer needs your product.

Does the need cause embarrassment? If yes, show how they can buy it in total secrecy.

Second, the anticipation of embarrassment is what drives decisions. What about your product is likely to embarrass your buyer? Give them the firepower to fight it.

For example, let’s pretend you sell knitting classes and you’re targeting male customers. Most men would feel embarrassed if their buddies found out. How would you sell it so that the buyer could shoot back at those who criticize?

I would stress the fine motor skills you develop from knitting. These skills help you fish, shoot guns or do carpentry work. It’s the same concept as football players taking ballet.

Reverse Embarrassment?

What the heck is reverse embarrassment?

Here’s how it works.

What is the potential embarrassment your prospect faces if he refuses to buy?

Don’t blurt out “you’ll never feel embarrassed again.” They often won’t admit (even to themselves) their condition embarrasses them.

Use specifics. Target the behavior that triggers the perceived harsh judgment. Here’s an example.

“How to stay in the ‘safe-zone’ of criticism. (Avoid the trigger words leading to public shaming)”

This targets the buyers fear of criticism or harsh judgment.

“How to recover from long pauses in a presentation. (Sing these two words and nobody remembers you faltered).

Fears of public speaking screw ups trigger embarrassment.

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