Fear-based Marketing vs. Happy Alternatives

For years, the lawn care company TruGreen sent out a basic Direct Mail message: “Weeds are awful. They ruin your lawn. We kill your weeds.” People gathered around that terrible fate of lawns overrun by dreaded weeds and put TruGreen weed-eradicator saviors on speed dial (or better yet, recurring seasonal service). 

Recently, TruGreen has shifted their message away from, “Fear the weeds! They’ll destroy your lawn!” to, “Get outside! Spend time in your backyard enjoying life and your beautiful lawn!” And that’s how they began the switch from the “commodity” of lawn care into creating an emotional need for their customers.

What can you learn from their success strategies?

Get creative with your messaging – Fear and greed are the fundamental direct-response emotional triggers, and nobody’s knocking their success rates. But there are many other emotional triggers as well, including optimism, happiness, love, vanity, and the list goes on. Think of ways your products and services promote more happiness and enjoyment.

Or tie the two together, maybe? Familiar with FOMO? It’s a social-media-driven agony – fear of missing out – which has people fearing they’ll miss getting an invite to the big shindig that they can see happening in tagged photos. The message would get to a point like so: “Don’t miss the enjoyment of life just because you have a heating/cooling system that you can’t trust, or inconvenient plumbing shortcomings, or poor lighting for your backyard party. Enjoy your home. You deserve it. Let us help.”

Integrate Direct Mail with email – Multiple impressions of the same message generates better success rates. Also, it allows for multiple ways to respond. Customers might get an email, then a Direct Mail piece, or the Direct Mail first, then the email. The Direct Mail has a phone number and URL, which takes a couple of steps. And email has a hyperlinked service request form or a reply button.


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