Three words a parent never wants to hear in the middle of the night, while camping in bear country:

“I gotta pee.” It's inevitable: Kids camping must pee in the dead of night.

The family and I went camping for four days. The older I get, the less I like camping 🙂

But it was a fun time. Know why? I cheated and got a cot!

And there were bears. Some funny stories. Lots of quiet time. Well, as quiet as you can get with hordes of kids scurrying around, high on juice boxes and s'mores.

I actually saw a bear in mid-day. He (or she, I didn't check) was about 75 yards up in the woods outside of camp. Guy on a dirt bike scared him away.

Bears can run fast.

I know you knew that. But until you see one hightail it, you don't really get it. At least, I didn't.

But when you know they can top 40mph (and Usain Bolt, the world's fastest human, can barely reach 30, if that), and see it IRL (in real life),it's amazing.

And makes you hope you never hear,

“I gotta pee.”

The first night we were there, a bear did rummage through our campsite. Not next door. Not down the way. Nope. Came right through looking for a snack.

Wifey and I scared it away.

Next day, I saw the aforementioned bear run faster than lightning.

Next night, everybody was in hyper-bear alert mode (hBAM).

So the girls screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night, “OMG IT'S A BEAR!” was totally believable.

Until it wasn't.

Guy across the way had sleep apnea. Sounded just like a damned bear foraging for leftover ribeye scraps.

Our minds play tricks on us. We're too smart for our own good. We make stuff up in our heads. When we hear,

“I gotta pee,” we immediately imagine a bear between us and the bathroom.

And it gets “real” really quick.

Even though the odds of that happening are 1 in a 100. We make shit up when there is no reason to.

We marketers call this the “fear of the unknown” (FOTU). It drives a lot of our customers' behavior.

Now, you can just take a pass or really embrace that FOTU is real.

H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories) said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

Of course, he was right.

Fear of the unknown keeps people in status quo. It's really the reason people don't “get outside their comfort zone.” It's also why they don't buy.

Read that again.

People don't buy your products because of the fear of the unknown. Therefore, it's your job to make the unknown known. How?

Your sales material, of course!

Salespeople are taught about “overcoming objections.” Those objections are just your prospect expressing unknowns. So you make them known.

He has a question about a benefit – you inform him. Question about anything – fear of the unknown.

FOTU is also why “social proof” is so compelling. Robert Cialdini wrote about it in his “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion book.

Potential buyers need to see that other people have benefitted from your product before they're willing to buy.

They need proof.

Yes, the fear of the unknown is powerful. You, as a marketer, need to embrace it, exploit it, and help your customers overcome it.

It's a real thing. It keeps us from moving:

  • We stay in a crappy job because the next one could be worse.
  • We linger in a bad relationship because, well, what will life be like without this person causing me so much misery? It could be worse.
  • We keep the same bad habits because changing them may work (fear of success is an offshoot of the fear of the unknown).

Inertia. You've heard of it. It's a physics principle you learn on day 1:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

We are in a state of inertia until some thing forces us out of it.

It's your job to be that change agent. You do it with your marketing material: Sales letters, squeeze pages, social selling, VSLs.

Want to know more about creating great copy that overcomes FOTU? Stay tuned.


fear, fear of the unknown, FOTU

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