Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Over the years I have assumed that a negative Selling Proposition was a bad idea. This also seems to be the unanimous opinion of the corporate marketers I work with daily. I know from experience that consumers, in fact humans in general, all function with “what’s wrong here” as a general operating state. Yes, humans are looking for what is wrong. It seems only prudent to keep your message on the positive side and not give them any reason to find something wrong. Given that, I keep an eye out for such things just in the event there is something new to learn. In over twenty years, I have never used fear or intimidation in a Selling Proposition nor do I recall ever seeing it used by an established brand until now. I will share it here.

Several months back, I had occasion to develop an interest in the heart medication category and it was an eye opener. The category appears to be in the early stages of a credibility crises. I will begin with my close friend Dr. Mark Gordon, a medical doctor who is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of anti-aging medicine, and is more recently recognized for his breakthrough work in treating traumatic brain injury. This is the concussion issue we have all been hearing so much about as it relates to the NFL. This is a guy I can trust.

Recently, Dr. Gordon captured my attention when he shared that he has had a cholesterol level of over 280 his entire life and does not take statin drugs to lower it. He further shared that “approximately 50% of all heart attacks happen in patients with normal or low cholesterol and it’s a fact well known in the medical community.” Much to the dismay of the medical community, it has now leaked out into the general public and many people with high cholesterol levels have stopped taking statins. Currently the drug companies sell over 12 BILLION dollars worth of statin drugs annually. You have likely noticed the TV advertising push to keep sales up? It’s huge. If you want to learn more, here is a good place to start:

Here is what I know. There are multiple functional components to a statin drug, only one of which is cholesterol lowering. Based on the statistic I just quoted, that component would seem to be of no value. Given the complexity of the drug, the drug companies are faced with a dilemma. They can try to reeducate you and me in the details or they can simply try to “pitch” their drug and keep selling in the same old ways. As long as they are truthful, I have no problem with what they are doing. If you listen closely to their statistical claims, you will not hear two alike. There is a grain of truth in all of them but they are misleading and you and I don’t take the time necessary to check them out. Until we do, we will remain confused and they will continue selling their drugs.

One manufacturer has specifically targeted those of you who have stopped taking the drug by trying to intimidate you into returning…it’s Lipitor. Intimidation is present in their “Don’t Kid Yourself” campaign that is now in full swing. Check it out and see if you are offended at the way the man in this commercial delivers his closing line: 

I would love to know how this commercial was tested. It is not only full of misleading information, it is also risky from a marketing perspective because he is most likely talking down to a segment of the market. I wonder how large of a segment that is?

While researching this blog, I discovered two more interesting negative Selling Propositions. I will share both in next week’s edition and give you my coaching on negative Selling Propositions.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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