27. What They Don’t Want

This is the most dangerous phase in the framework because so many marketers overuse it.

Using failure as a means to make a sale can cause anxiety in the Hero’s mind.

For example, how often do you get sales sequences that have emails talking about how shitty you’re going to feel if you don’t purchase the course before the deadline is up?

You don’t want to waste away being a deadbeat by not buying this course.

It just feels icky.

It’s effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to overuse.

However, it is smart to use it some if you do it in a way that helps to reinforce the empathy you have for the Hero.

For example, on an old sales page of ours, I used to have a headline that said “You don’t want to be at that job forever“. With this headline, I’m implied that if you didn’t purchase our offer you could be stuck at your job forever.

However, I’m doing so in a way that doesn’t attack you.

Failure is the result of someone not following your plan and taking action.

Failure is not someone taking action and missing the goal, failure is someone not taking action at all.

While it is an important component of the story framework, for me it’s the least used because of the negative feelings it can evoke in the Hero.


Why is using failure such an effective tool in getting someone to take action?

Well, we can take a look at Prospect Theory to better help us understand this.

Prospect theory is a theory in cognitive psychology that describes the way people choose between probabilistic alternatives that involve risk, where the probabilities of outcomes are uncertain. The theory states that people make decisions based on the potential value of losses and gains rather than the final outcome, and that people evaluate these losses and gains using some heuristics. The model is descriptive: it tries to model real-life choices, rather than optimal decisions, as normative models do.

The reality is that we are more motivated to avoid loss than we are to achieving a gain.

Social media addiction occurs because of FOMO (fear of missing out). People feel as though they might lose something if they aren’t on it constantly. They rarely think about the gain in time they experience.

So the lesson here is that you should acknowledge that a person will miss but you don’t want them to focus on it.

Instead, you want to show them what they do want.