So pet doctors have been hip to advanced selling techniques for longer than most people realize.
It’s been at least 10 years since they literally invented some sort of feline leukemia that required all kinds of intervention not to mention thousands of dollars in treatment.
Same goes for life extension services for dogs who are clearly not enjoying quality of life. Everyone has seen the doggie wheelchairs and prosthetics that these poor pups drag themselves around with.
Yes I understand that pets are important to human beings and that we often spend lots of money for their comfort. Perfectly understandable. What I am talking about is how veterinarians inflate a condition in order to justify expensive procedures.
They do this by talking about things like ease their suffering and improve their quality of life. I can swear that they have used literal puppy eyes when telling me these kinds of things.
Reason I bring this up is we had a puppy who fell down and sprained his leg. He was limping. So we took him to an emergency vet. $650 later they said the x-rays indicated that he needed emergency surgery to prevent a lifetime of walking around like a cripple. The price for this procedure was about $7000. They wanted us to rush him into the city pet hospital IMMEDIATELY so he could have the surgery in the morning.
So we asked if there was another option. They said well you can go to another place tomorrow and have the orthopedic surgeon look at it. That’s what we did.
That doggy doctor looked at the same x-rays and said he didn’t see the fracture the previous place was talking about. His recommendation was to wait another 72 hours and see if the dog could walk. So we did. And lo and behold the dog was fine. No more limping no cripple no pain no whimpering.
For marketers this is a case study in how the emotion of shame is interwoven into a sales pitch.
Doggy doctors know they have you where they want you. There are many many stories of people going into debt and borrowing money or clearing out their 401(k)s to finance procedures for their animals.
Again, not every case is manipulation. However I know that the one I encountered was definitely a situation where they were trying to coerce me into spending a boatload of money that turned out to not be necessary.
Now if it was necessary I probably would have spent it. But I’m hip to the game. I knew what they were doing. I don’t fault them for it but I am a discerning customer. I can usually tell if I am being sold something.
In terms of our marketing efforts the extent to which you use shame is up to you.
It can be gentle and in many cases supportive of the customer. For example in the business niche in which I operate I will say to people, don’t you want to make more money for your family. I think that’s legit. It is a way to make people dig a little deeper past their self-doubt and perhaps laziness to do something that will benefit them. I think that is an appropriate deployment of the emotional trigger of shame.
But again your mileage and your sense of personal ethics will dictate how you use shame in your marketing. But I wanted to share this story to illustrate how emotional triggers are used by people you might not expect would be hip to the tactic.
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