Let’s Get Negative!

Would you be surprised if I said the second section of your website should be about something painful? It should say out loud what people are secretly afraid of. It should be a little bit scary.

Sometimes business owners are hesitant to talk about what’s at stake. They don’t like the idea of including something “negative” in their marketing.

But people only act when the cost of doing nothing is high — when there’s something at stake.

The Header of your website tells them how your product or service will make their life better. It’s bright, shining, happy, positive, optimistic.

The section right below needs to flip the tone and tell them how their life will be difficult if they do nothing (or if they hire your competitor).

Let’s look at two examples of “Stakes sections” on websites we’ve built.

⬆️  This sports and fitness coach’s Stakes section tells the truth about how hard it is to hit your goals without a coach. (Design tip: If your website uses alternating dark and light backgrounds as part of its design, put your Stakes section on a dark background to intensify the mood.)

⬆️  This plumber reminds people that plumbing issues are annoying and potentially catastrophic.

Neither of these Stakes sections include lies, fear-mongering, or deception. But they do create a sense of discomfort, urgency, and motivation.

Action Items:

Fill in these blanks as a way to think about what’s at stake if your customer doesn’t hire or buy from you.

  • If my customer does nothing, they will _______________.
  • My customer is putting up with _______________, when they don’t have to.
  • If my customer ignores their problem, they’ll keep feeling _______________.
  • If my customer buys from my competitor, they might get _______________. 
  • If my customer tries to solve their problem on their own, they risk _______________.

People won’t act if there’s nothing at stake. They won’t even pay attention to you if they’re not aware of the cost of doing nothing. So, tell them.

If you’re tempted to say that talking about failure is too heavy or dark for your brand, I’d love to talk with you about it. I understand that hesitation. However, you’re not being a downer or a bully when you remind people that there’s a risk in doing nothing. Let’s get on a 30-minute call and talk about how to write about what’s at stake in a way that’s truthful, on-brand, and motivating.


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