Fear in copywriting is a powerful technique, but is it right?


Is Your Copywriter Batman?
A masked figure in black lurks in a cave. He embodies fear itself, striking terror into the hearts of thousands. He taps away on his keyboard, building fear with his choice of words.

It sounds like Batman, but it’s a security writer. I’m not sure why he’s wearing a mask.

As a copywriter with several clients in the security industry, I sometimes work hard to invoke fear. It’s a dark art – and perhaps a cheap tactic – but fear in copywriting is necessary for certain clients.

It’s a powerful technique. But is it right to feed a sense of threat in your readers?

The Power of Fear In Copywriting

Batman depends on fear in order to flourish. If people are scared, they are compliant. They will do anything to protect their assets.

In Gotham, the audience in question is the criminal community. Mostly, they’re trying to protect their soft, fragile bodies against Batman’s powerful limbs. In the security industry, the audience is businesses, or individuals who need to protect their homes, their equipment, or themselves.

It is the easiest thing in the world for a security writer to play the fear card. There are people in the world that will burn down your house, steal equipment from your office, or cause violence at your event. If a copywriter tells you this enough times, your entire world view becomes skewed. The reality is that crime doesn’t happen to most of us. But fear-driven messages convince people that they are always under threat, and need to pay for protection right this very moment.

Fear sells. Just ask news reporters, journalists and editors.

Gotham Needs Two Knights – So Does Your Brand

But we can all learn a lot from Batman. You see, as great as he is, he can’t do it alone. Gotham needs two figureheads, two knights – one that represents fear, and another that represents the solution.

If somebody finds your security industry website, or reads your press advertisement, they know what there is to be scared of. Reinforce this, yes – but don’t blow it out of all proportion. Because alongside the hint of fear and the threat of crime, the best security brands remain focused on the positive – crime can be eliminated by a great security provider.

It’s an oversimplification to say that using fear to sell is irresponsible, or that every copywriter should only ever mention benefits. But just like Batman, the best security writers understand that fear alone is not quite enough.

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