Scharff worked with Allied airmen shot down in the latter half of WWII and was known for his unique method of creating the illusion that he already knew everything about a prisoner's activities. He would build rapport with captives through such unusual methods as taking them on guided tours through the forest, zoo trips, and flights on German fighter planes.
Scharff bragged that by using these methods he could "break" 90% of the prisoners he worked with. Pretty good conversion rate.
It got me thinking about different approaches in sales and direct response advertising. There's a stark contrast between appealing to prospects through reward versus using fear and punishment as a hook in an ad...
What have some of your experiences been using these different approaches in your own work? Are there some niches where playing on the fears of prospects is actually more effective?
I think Scharff's results prove that it's better to befriend prospects and promise them a "better way," but I know there are effective ways to take an adversarial tone with prospects in an ad as well. Interested in any thoughts!