Should your sales messages be loss framed or gain framed?


Marketers and sales professionals tend to be firm believers in making positive benefit claims about their product or service. But there is plenty of evidence to support the argument that loss framed messages can be more effective.

Healthcare marketing

Researchers have found a difference in consumer behaviour when making disease detection choices. Loss framed messages like “do this health test and reduce your chances of dying from this disease” was more effective than messages that focused on the positive like “do this test and live longer”. Conversely, experiments involving disease prevention choices found the reverse was true and that customer adoption increased when the messages was framed as a gain.

Using two sided messages

When prospects are involved or engaged with an advertisement, research shows that using both types of messaging is more effective than one or the other. This works best when there are three to five times more gain than loss related messages. So you should consider sprinkling in loss framed messages amongst your positive benefit statements

It boils down to what customer feel

At the end of the day it all depends on how customers are feeling in the context of your service. Their prior knowledge and experiences of companies like yours influence how they feel about the risks and returns to them. Their expectations shape how they receive messages and their willingness to engage. Hyperbole rich communications made by firms in sectors where customer expectations are low are less likely to work than those that reflect the customer reality.

What’s the learning?

The research is not clear cut but what is certain is that you should be making active choices about how to frame your messages. So next time you are reviewing this, think about designing a way to test which combination will work best for your business. Live market testing by producing variations of your sales material and seeing which works best is one way to do this. But customer insight research will pinpoint much more accurately how people feel and why which greatly improves your chances of finding what messages resonate best.


Francis Wyburd 2016

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