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The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations
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(May 23, 2007) Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. FUD (Wikipedia) is a marketing strategy designed to scare purchasers into decisions. By distributing information that is vague and negative, a competitor tries to create and satisfy a need without delivering detailed and accurate data. The idea is to get buyers to make a choice that appears to be safe.

By spreading disinformation about a competitor, an organization can cause customers and potential customers to make decisions that do not depend on either technical or cost merits. Emotional appeals to patriotism, fear about impending disaster (remember Y2K?), fear of the unknown,  vague accusations about a competitor's performance history, appeals based on Brand rather than performance are all manifestations of a FUD based marketing strategy.

The result of FUD is that many companies try to make decisions that shield the decision makers from career risk. This explains why so many Recruiting organizations utilize software solutions from Enterprise software vendors. The stuff is unwieldy and primitive (you might actually say that it doesn't work). The sales and installations happen because there is a huge network of backslapping fearmongers who are at the heart of our industry's decision making.

It's all FUD.

FUD is now often used in non-computer contexts with the same meaning. For example, in politics the tactic is often used to attempt to alter public opinion on a particular issue or on an opposing group. Often, one group will accuse another group of utilizing FUD. Many critics of George W. Bush accused him of using a FUD-based campaign in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Bush supporters likewise accused their opponents of using FUD by spreading rumors about a possible military draft should Bush be re-elected. (Wikipedia)

The counterpoint to an appeal to fear (fear based marketing) is aspirational marketing. The contrasting ethic is transparency. The antidote to FUD is an educated consumer.

Transparency is the high road, FUD is the low road. Fear works because we are wired like reptiles. Creating anxiety as a sales engine can be as much as five times more effective than an aspirational cost-benefits based approach in the short run. Human beings respond to fear with adrenaline. A more sensible approach takes patience, time and money.

The reason to reject FUD marketing is that it treats the customer with derision. FUD assumes that you are a child and will respond to fear and guilt. FUD assumes that the conversation is one sided and that you are too stupid to be a part of it.

When you see FUD, ask about the details. Ask for comparisons with other products. Ask for help becoming educated about your choices. If you can't get it, you're getting FUD.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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