4 Reasons to Avoid Negative Marketing Messages

Man in a suite smiling with raised hands raised and text that reads "4 reasons to avoid negative marketing messages."

October 18, 2014

Written by John Centofanti

John’s background spans the creative side of business, including content writing, branding, graphic design, and more. In 2006, John founded Creative Stream Marketing, serving national retailers, tech companies, and B2B companies across the US.

Negative marketing messages are everywhere—TV, radio, web, print, outdoor and social media.

Negative marketing works, but should you do it?

Negative marketing can take many forms:

Speaking negatively about the competition

  • Brand X is always breaking and never reliable. Try Brand Z for the quality you deserve.
  • Tired of your insurance company putting you on hold? Call ABC Insurance to talk to real people who care.

Speaking negatively about life or work circumstances

  • Tired of leaky faucets? Call now to get 2 cans of StopLeak.
  • Stuck in a dead-end job? Come to our career fair and open the door to new career and financial opportunities.

Speaking negatively about life or work without your product

  • Your work projects are failing because you’re using paper and pen to manage them. Try our ABC software and watch your productivity soar.
  • You don’t have to watch TV with closed captions to enjoy movies. Try our gadget that helps you hear better.

There’s no question negative feelings resonate with people. Here are two beneficial aspects to negative marketing:

  1. People feel understood: Finally, a company understands their struggles and frustrations.
  2. Easy comparisons: Why pay $40 for a hose that’s heavy eventually leaks, when you can pay $14.99 for a light hose that’s guaranteed to never leak?

Give your customers a positive experience, beginning with your marketing message.

Since negative marketing works, why would you want to avoid it?

1. Simply put, it’s negative. People are bombarded every day, all day, with negative experiences, thoughts, interactions and news. Why add another negative feeling and then associate it with your brand?

2. Enough negative marketing messages can cause negative feelings when people see your brand. Your brand should evoke positive feelings.

3. Here’s the strongest reason to avoid negative marketing: If your product or service is so great, you should’t have to spend time being critical of your competitors. People will draw that conclusion without you needing to being negative about life without your brand. Further, when a strong brand starts using negative marketing messages, it’s a sign of desperation.

4. The most powerful, respected brands never use negative marketing messages. Could you imagine an advertisement for a Tiffany & Co. diamond asking, “Tired of dull, flawed diamonds from your wholesale club? You deserve a Tiffany’s diamond.” Ridiculous, right? Typically, it’s the underdog who’s criticizing the top dog. Do you want to look like the poor underdog? Think about it.

Think about the deeper messages in negative marketing that aren’t stated. Why did you buy Brand X, which is never reliable, instead of Brand Z? Are you foolish?

Why do you have leaky faucets at all, because you lack handy repair skills, or because you can’t afford to fix them? Further, why are your work projects failing? Are you a failure?

On an emotional level, negative marketing has to take away something from someone to be effective. Why not be the kind of company that creates value for your customers and clients? Give your customers a positive experience, beginning with your marketing message.

The results will be positive for both you and them. I’m positive.


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