FUD in B2B Marketing Communications

I was reminded of my old friend, FUD, this past summer on a direct-mail project. FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. The creative director said, “Let’s use FUD.”

Wikipedia calls FUD “a manifestation of the appeal to fear.” It’s used a lot in politics and propaganda, which I usually find distasteful. Of course, it’s used because it’s highly effective.

Can FUD be used responsibly and honestly?

Yes, I think so. It was a staple of our B2B marketing communications for corporate clients when I worked at a Seattle ad agency.

Following is an example. I wrote it for a document destruction company. The copy was used in a capabilities brochure and as home-page content for a new Web site.


Your business is at risk.

Every day your business generates confidential, sensitive information. And every day someone in your company decides what to do with that information: keep it, recycle it, shred it, or simply throw it away. If your sensitive business information falls into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating.

Sound a bit ominous? It’s supposed to.

FUD can be a legitimate and ethical approach for B2B marketing situations. Use it, as appropriate, and with care.

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5 Deadly Sins of B2B Copywriting

No, these “sins” aren’t new. However, they’re very easy to commit when lost in the vast fog of media choices and marketing tactics. Be forewarned.

Deadly Sin #1: Not attracting attention.

If you don’t attract attention with a compelling headline or opening of some kind, it doesn’t matter what follows. As David Ogilvy famously said, “If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your client’s money.” Work diligently on headlines and don’t try too hard to be clever.

Deadly Sin #2: Not identifying an audience need, concern, or problem.
In journalism parlance, this is called the hook. This is what tells your audience you understand them and sets up how you can help them.

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