Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt: the Supreme Mind Blocker Emotions

Uncertainty blocks the brain from thinking. While talking with a client recently, he acknowledged that he’d been in a bit of a “mind funk” for a while. There was good reason: uncertainty due to lengthy delays of a key decision from someone outside of his company. And it’s reminder for marketers that uncertainty feels more prevalent in this fear-based election year than usual, and it is sure to block the brain from thinking and acting. 

When presented with fear, uncertainty, or doubt (FUD), all logical thinking can shut down. “Mind funk”—or whatever you want to call it—sets in, and instead of moving forward, you shut down. And so do your prospects and customers. Consider how FUD can overtake emotions:

•    Fear frightens and paralyzes.

•    Uncertainly grips and people ruminate over and over.

•    Doubt shakes confidence and buying decisions aren’t made.

It’s human to fall into the FUD trap because this is how our brains are wired. And quite frankly, this nasty and negative election cycle is likely to exacerbate FUD even more, risking a decline in response rates this year. 

At any point when approaching your prospective customers, whether you’ve sent them a postcard, letter, catalog or email, you can’t know a person’s state of mind when they receive it. But you can know the persona of the individual, and that alone enables you to consider a person’s core emotional values, and how you can clear away their FUD. 

When you stimulate emotion, especially if you can imagine the FUD a person is dealing with at the moment, you get undivided attention. The brain shuts off thinking and is fixated on the problem. Your marketing opportunity? 

  • First, when you have identified one’s fears, uncertainty and doubt, promise a solution. 
  • Second, redirect thinking by calming the mind with your solution. This dissipates FUD, and decision-making has a chance of returning.
  • Read more about how to Leverage Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Copywriting here.

At the rate fear, uncertainty and doubt is being stirred up by this election, another opportunity is to use the news as part of your message. Using news makes you more topical, and these days, you’ll probably hit many emotional core values to help you break through and release decision-making.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.