Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt Timeless Intangibles

Michael D. Moberly August 4, 2016 ‘A blog intersecting and navigating intangible assets for profitable business’!

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) are intangible assets (or liabilities) depending on who the recipient(s) may be, what the motive – intent of the individual, movement, or organization utilizing FUD is, and how FUD influences people to act – react.

Several years ago, I was encouraged to take a meeting with a high end marketing firm regarding my consultancy. The firm’s CEO, in her opening remarks, adamantly expressed the key to effective marketing lie in generating FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) among the businesses and clients I sought to engage. Unmistakably, her words translated as crafting and scripting marketing messages…
• to dramatize a consistent presence of risk, specific to prospective clients’ IA’s (intangible assets) and,
• if a company and/or its management team chose not to utilize my services they could expect to incur various
adverse economic – competitive advantage consequences in the near term.

Another obvious underlier to this marketing firm’s mantra is that company management teams, c-suites, boards, and stakeholders are seldom receptive – motivated to change, particularly during periods when conventional status quo markers provide satisfaction unless – until elements of imminent FUD can be articulately infused to ‘kick start’ relevant conversations in c-suites and boardrooms about maximizing value company’s IA’s. Should I choose to do otherwise, she emphatically said, my company would fail and she would be very reluctant to accept me as a client.

The marketing materials – pitches I had developed to date focused on two themes, i.e., respect, and uncertainty. By this I mean, the demeanor and language integrated throughout my marketing materials and pitch endeavored to be respectful to each party I would engage, that is, respecting their experience, status, and the possibility they may already hold perspectives – operational familiarity with IA’s which may or may not coincide with my own.

Similarly, during conversations with prospective clients, if I sensed uncertainty about what IA’s are, what they’re not, how to develop, position, and monetize them for their value and competitive advantages, etc., I would mitigate any uncertainties by identifying, unraveling, and applying IA’s held within their company as examples. I would do so in forward looking – thinking contexts for management teams to consider and draw attention to the economic fact their company’s value, competitiveness, wealth creation, and sustainability now resided in non-physical IA’s, not physical tangible assets.

My marketing materials and ‘pitches’ center on guiding client companies to achieve near and long term successes merely by learning how to recognize, develop, utilize, mitigate risk, and safeguard IA’s which they own, hold, have developed, or acquired.

The perspectives I hold about marketing my professional services are rooted in – evolve from the assumption that experienced and horizonal thinking companies and their management teams already recognized the economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, future wealth creation, competitiveness, and sustainability lie in intangible, not tangible assets. Therefore, there is no need to generate – rely on client companies FUD, instead, focus on how, why, and when company management teams are obliged to identify, distinguish, assess the contributory value, fragility, and sustainability of their IA’s. In other words, my marketing initiatives were not intended to generate dramatized uncertainty, rather to mitigate managerial uncertainties about how to utilize IA’s best.

Purposefully eliciting FUD among target audiences as an absolute prelude to attracting potential clients to engage my firm and purchase the product-services I offer remains a strategy which I am neither professionally nor personally comfortable or committed.

To this day, I harbor no regrets about not accepting this CEO’s FUD dominated marketing strategy. Admittedly however, my consultancy has yet to achieve several key projections. Whether that has any connection to the absence of planting – inserting FUD in marketing materials and pitches I simply don’t know. In my defense, my company emerged from a 20+ year (fulltime) career in academia in which I was recognized for bringing logical, rational, horizonal, and experientially-based explanations to criminology and private security issues to undergraduate and graduate students. At no time did I incorporate content intended to sew elements of FUD. Admittedly, in academia, I was not seeking to sell products and/or services, rather to influence student’s critical thinking that moved beyond convention, i.e., let’s do the same, only more of it, and let it be rationalized through perceptions fueled by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

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