How to make ethical money from fear

By  •  Updated: 02/10/23 •  4 min read

The average joe is fearful of making mistakes.

Most business decisions get made in group settings so that if it all goes wrong, no one feels like they’re the only one in the firing line.

Being the one with the commitment to say “We’re ready. Send it.” is a responsibility a lot of people will avoid.

Unethical marketers pour fear into their copy.

They put fear where there was none. Fear of missing out, staying stuck, even getting left behind.

If you’re the one taking the fear away, that’s a different game, and you should be proud of yourself.

Fear exists in most people’s lives.

They’re terrified of getting things wrong, being criticised, or having the spotlight shone on them in any way.

Find fear, take it away, and they’ll thank you with money.

Here’s a few ways I’ve done it.

1. Go where others won’t

The British, and most Americans, are generally useless at anything to do with languages.

They really have no idea how to run business in other languages, but they miss that that’s not the real skill.

The skill is just finding someone you trust to do your translations.

Last year I launched more than one lead generation funnel in Mandarin.

My Mandarin extends to the sign for the men’s toilets, but I know and trust some native speakers, and some local hosting suppliers. That’s really all it takes.

We charge several times what I’d do for an English project, just because we put the work in on a couple of projects, years ago.

Now we’ve figured out how to take that extra step, we can keep charging a premium.

2. Learn from unpopular industries

Back in the dark days of the internet, gambling and porn sites discovered “pop-up” ads.

They were the most hated thing on the web and could easily crash the early computers.

Clean them up and now every swish-looking DTC brand uses them to get your email address.

The same industries were responsible for secure online payments, video streaming and a bunch of other technologies we take for granted now.

Following the darker end of affiliate marketing has taught me no end of tactics which 3 years later have been cleaned up (and often renamed) by mainstream businesses trying to get an edge.

The biggest affiliate site I worked for was described as “grubby” by one commentator, then copied almost exactly by the biggest loyalty scheme in the UK a year later.

Look at the dark belly of the internet and ask yourself “how could I clean that up so that Fortune 500 companies will do it”.

My prediction is that “funnels” like internet marketers have become used to will start to appear in much bigger businesses before long. Mastering order bumps and upsells will be a premium skill.

3. Sending emails

Yes, there are people who are scared to be the one to send an email campaign.

Sure there are things that can go wrong. Email nerds will fearmonger about your precious designs not showing properly in some obscure mobile browser. Links get broken. Sometimes you get an email with “Dear FNAME”.

Ever notice how the wrinkles in a rough road smooth out the faster you go?

That’s the solution to most things in business. Speed up and you’ll only notice the biggest bumps.

You just need to be the one who realises that the odd typo and broken link are going to happen every now and again and it’s really not that serious in the grand scheme of things.

If you want to get ahead in business you need to venture out into the wild west every once in a while to see what’s there.

Sometimes you’ll get mauled by grizzlies or attacked by natives.

Sometimes though you’ll find gold.

What are you doing to find gold this week?

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.