I learned a lot of sales and marketing techniques throughout my career. I want to share one with you today that I see a lot in everyday situations … It’s called FUD.
What is FUD?
FUD is an acronym for: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Like most sales tactics, FUD was designed to help potential customers. But, when it’s abused or applied in the wrong setting, FUD can be used to take advantage of people — which is what I’m talking about in this post.
Creating FUD Works Like This
Let’s say you’re in sales, and a customer is planning to buy something from a competitor (instead of buying it from you). You could subtly drop a few comments or questions to try and disrupt their thinking. This could possibly scare them out of buying the product from your competitor.
FUD statements are designed to change peoples *feelings* about spending money.
For example, you could say things like:
- “Are you 100% sure that’s the right decision?… What if you’re making a big mistake?”
- “Have you checked all the competitor reviews? Are you sure they are the best provider?”
- “Did you fully read the T&C’s to make sure everything is legit? It would be a shame if you overlooked something.”
When people hear comments like this, their emotions start to flare up. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt… They start to question themselves and the decisions they’re about to make.
This was the dirty and ugly part of sales that I never liked. You can see how this can easily be abused as a strategy to lie or spread disinformation! Even if the original intent is genuine (like influencing a customer into buying something that is 100% the right thing for them), sparking people’s emotions like this is dangerous and can lead to impulse decision-making.
FUD Is Everywhere
After learning about the FUD factor in sales, I started to see it everywhere in regular life. Watching the news, getting my car serviced, or even ordering a meal at a restaurant… The world is full of statements that entice fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Examples of FUD
- While checking out online, you read: “80% of people who bought X, also bought Y… Do you want to add Y to your order?” (This sparks FOMO and makes you want to buy the other thing, because everyone else seems to have done it.)
- A coworker says, “Are you sure it’s a good time to invest in the stock market? Robert Kiyosaki says there’s a huge crash coming!”
- A headline pops up in your Twitter feed: “Investors are flocking to Bitcoin as crypto trading frenzy continues.”
- Your mortgage broker tells you: “Rates like this will not last much longer – lock it in while you still can!”
- A letter in the mail says: “Your benefits are about to expire! We don’t want you to lose your premium status.” (This statement makes you feel loss aversion.)
All of these statements are scare tactics. They put fear, uncertainty and doubt in your mind.
So, how do you tell the difference between a FUD tactic and real advice that’s actually a good thing for you?
How to Identify a FUD Tactic
When you hear or read something that challenges a decision you’re about to make, try these things:
1. Question the source
Does the person, company, or news outlet have an ulterior motive behind their statements? Or do they have your best interest in mind?
Obviously you don’t want to be overly skeptical about everything in life… But, taking a quick moment to question *why* someone is saying something can give you clarity.
2. Ask for the facts
“Oh, the stock market is going to crash? That’s interesting… Please tell me 4-5 data-backed reasons on how you came to that conclusion.”
Before accepting anything as a “fact,” it’s always good to probe a little more. Asking just a few basic questions should quickly identify whether it’s something you should put more thought into or whether it’s just FUD.
3. Emotions vs logic
Remember, FUD is specifically designed to change your *feelings* about things. And as we all know, making decisions based solely on emotions usually doesn’t work out too well (especially financial decisions!).
Before taking any advice, try to filter out the emotions. Fear, uncertainty and doubt can be overcome by research, common sense, fact-checking, and confidence!
There’s More FUD Now Than Ever
It’s been an irregularly rough few years for almost every human on the planet. We’re all very touchy and sensitive about the things we hear and read. Our health, wealth, jobs, homes, politics, and even our toilet paper situation was out of control for a while there!
We have emotions on top of emotions, which makes us extra-susceptible to FUD.
Don’t fall for it. Keep a mature and optimistic mindset. Try to avoid drastic or radical decisions without clearly thinking through your options. Keep thinking long-term and avoid the drama. Just ‘cause everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you need to get involved.
Have a great weekend, all, and ignore the noisy FUD out there!