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.