Why in the wind is the weather so scary.

If you’re like me, and you get your daily weather report from The Weather Channel’s Weather.com, then you might think the sky is falling.  Literally.

Take a look at the headlines that have appeared on the homepage over the last week:

  • Why Scientists Are Worried About Yellowstone
  • Tropical Threat, The Next Move
  • Most Powerful Earthquake in Decades Hammers California
  • Entire Town Running Out of Water
  • Gulf of Mexico:  Tropical Threat Ahead
  • WARNING:  Threat Brewing in the Gulf
  • Dangerous Storms Ahead

Scary, right?  Not a single positive, good times, sunny day, headline in the bunch.


Because someone at The Weather Channel knows that a prime motivator for the consumer is fear.

If a business, any business, can scare you a bit, you’re much more likely to click on an article, sign up for information, or hand over your credit card and buy, buy, buy.

It’s a simple sales formula:

Find out what makes your customer anxious, and give them the antidote for that anxiety.

And there is no question that it works. Like others who have employed this tactic, Weather.com has exploded over the last several years since they started haunting their audiences with headlines and unilaterally naming winter storms, and is now the 28th most trafficked site on the web.  Yep, it gets more traffic than the NY Times, Yelp and the most popular porn sites.

“Whether” or not this fear based marketing is appropriate for the non-profit Weather Channel is another story.

But if it works, is there a way for you to scare the beejesus and the bucks out of your potential customers?

Sure there is.

You might threaten them with a tsunami or even a Sharknado, by telling them . . .

  • There are only a limited number of performances that you can see.
  • There are only a limited number of GREAT SEATS that you can buy. (Over and over we hear from Broadway consumers that seat location is even more important than price)
  • This actor/actress/cast may never, ever be on Broadway stage ever again.  Or as I call it, The Streisand 17 Farewell Tours tactic.
  • Everyone else is seeing this show, and will be talking about this show, so do you want to be left out?

Don’t be afraid to put a little fear into your marketing.  You just may find that the right scare tactic “makes it rain” at your box office.

(If you want more tips on writing a great headline, here’s a tip for you.)


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.