Are you scared yet? Are you scared yet? Yeah? Good. Now buy my stuff!

Fear-based marketing works.

It works better on some people than others but it generally works. Unfortunately.

Here’s a direct quote from an email I received this morning:

”Flying triangles look cool, but they won't do you any good ifsomeone slaps you, puts you in a headlock and throws you down tothe ground in front of your family, while you flop on the ground helplessly like a fish out of water. How do explain to your loved ones what happened when you're telling everyone that you're at the gym "fighting" 4-6 days a week?”

Now, before we hack into it, let’s address it fairly and logically:

Who is it aimed at?
What’s its call for action?
What message is it trying to instil in you?

I was actually puzzled initially by the email. I couldn’t figure out who it was being aimed at:

White belts: They automatically spend the majority of their grappling time defending and working out of disadvantageous positions such as the mount, side control and knee on belly. This is the core of self-defence. White belts hardly ever get taught anything sport-specific* and when they start rolling alive, they will, by the nature of the beast, end up in said disadvantageous positions.

Blue belts:
By the time anyone reaches this stage, they would have paid a lot of dues and spend a lot of time working out of disadvantageous positions that they should do OK in a self defence confrontation. Don’t get me wrong; there will be A LOT more dues to pay, but they should be alright with a stronger but unskilled opponent (which are many of the people starting at the gyms and the vast majority of the world’s population)

Purple belts and above: Even the most dedicated sports-player in these categories will have the odds stacked enormously in their favour. Their skill will be phenomenal in:

Cover up-clinch-take down-climb the positional ladder-control the situation-finish

Which is the heart and soul of BJJ, Grappling and real fighting.

What does it want you to do? Firstly, notice that the quote alone has the word “you” 9 times. The email actually used it 23 times. This is not a conversation. This is not a story. This was written as a direct appeal to something within you and since it only uses past tense once and future tense once and present tense throughout, the call is a very urgent one.

That’s when it came to me. It’s aimed at a very primal emotion within us all. Fear**.

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Here is another direct quote from the email:

“Imagine that you stop off at a convenience store after work to geta soda and as you're walking through the door, a guy runs out thestore and bumps into you. You say excuse me for your part in the mishap, even though it wasn'tyour fault, but the guy drops his soda and now demands that you buy him another or he'll kick your butt.And as you try one futile attempt after another to resolve the issuepeacefully, our rude friend decides to...Now, I ended the scenario right there because I don't want to sayexactly how it turns out since it could end a number of ways. But the question I want you to ask yourself is this:Does your grappling training prepare you for this kind of situationor is it geared more toward competitions?”

Are you scared now? Are you worried? Have you started questioning your training and self-defence skills?

Good, because the email ends with a list of products you can buy that will help alleviate your fear.

I bet you those fantastic products will cost you more than a new can of soda.

*Even when holding guard, players are ALWAYS taught that without properly breaking the posture, submission attacks will be useless.

** By the way Seth Godin is awesome. Me Like Seth. I only linked to his post because he explains the concept really well and very concisely. I mean, look at the sharky sharky!!

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Dolph Goldenburg said...

In addition to using fear, I think they're also trying to use shame to get people to buy their products. Essentially, they're saying "imagine how embarrassed you would be losing a street fight. how would you explain that to your friends and family?"

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thanks so much for reading the blog Dolph. I totally agree with your comment. They don't even take it as far as losing the fight, but getting slapped and taken down. If you have 6 months experience in BJJ, you should be more than perfectly equipped to deal with this situation and, hopefully, 6 months of being submitted by smaller, weaker yet technically superior girls will take care of the embarrassment factor too :)

A.D. McClish said...

Yeah, sounds pretty shady to me. Sounds like someone who doesn't really understand BJJ. If you're going to a legit school, BJJ is always about self defense first. Our instructors incorporate all sorts of things that we can't do in tournaments--and that we wouldn't do to our teammates--that we would use in the event of a street fight. Of course, you can't expect a white belt to go out on the street and beat people up like B.J. Penn. But the more you learn, the greater your ability to defend yourself will be.

Meerkatsu said...

This advert:

uses a couple of different strategies:
1. Cod-scientific lingo. Such bogus science jargon is rife in industries such as the cosmetics industry but martial arts? Reptilian brain?????
2. Aspirational - it gives you a little carrot, ie the tantalising and seemingly very real goal of becoming a black belt within 3 years..oh and learn to be street lethal at the same time.
I mean, really. This is 2010, who signs up to this London where BJJ schools and good boxing/Muay Thai/MMA etc clubs abound. The mind (mammalian) boggles!

The Part Time Grappler said...

Wow. I NEED TO SIGN UP! I think I already have a talent for that Meerkatsu, I don't have much of a brain anyway! :)