Tom Seest
6 min readJul 26, 2021

A Challenge Of Epidemic Proportions…


I’ve had many difficult sales jobs in my life, but I must confess that I don’t envy those members of the various public health agencies attempting to sell the jab or jabs to the people. And, the marketing people at the pharmaceutical companies don’t have an easy job either. I remember attempting to sell Amway door-to-door back in the 1970s when our small town of nine hundred people had forty-two Amway distributors at the time. That was some tough selling, but I did have some limited success. I also sold bibles door-to-door in Carrollton, Georgia in the summer of 1984, and that proved challenging too, but nothing like the job of people selling the jab.


Many, and often most, people will defer to authority and will simply do whatever their doctor, favorite politician, or favorite celebrity says, so the sale isn’t difficult here. But the process can be more tedious in other cases. Some people need more convincing, and the challenge of explaining the technical in a non-technical way can be challenging. Some people require more than “take this or bad things will happen.”


Not everyone is a doctor, a nurse, a scientist, a chemist, or a virologist, and this presents a challenge to the marketing departments at the pharmaceutical companies and in the government agencies. These marketing departments have to get your attention, then attempt to educate you on a highly technical topic, and then persuade you to take some form of action. And it can be difficult to find the proper ways to word the message and get the stories out there that will accomplish these goals.


Marketers often use fear to make you take action, and you see this exhibited all around you. For a limited time, we can offer you this special; you’re racing against time. Someone is going to remove your ability to buy our product, so you need to buy it now. If you don’t use our products and services, bad things could happen to you, or you could die. Fear is an intense motivator that we all understand from an early age and is an excellent way to create urgency, or make someone aware of urgency. The trick is to create enough fear to become the catalyst for action, without causing so much fear that it causes people not to move. As President Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” You don’t want people to fear the fear.


When selling, we were taught to sell the benefits and not the product or features. Statements like, “Use this wax to polish the surface of your car, and you won’t be able to keep the women away,” sells much better than, “the chemicals in our product will keep your car from rusting and it only costs $19.95.” However, with the marketing of vaccines, the benefits are often unseen, or difficult to imagine, so painting that picture can be a difficult challenge. The challenge is to market to and convince a reluctant consumer that they won’t have something unimaginable happen to them, and they need to imagine that: or, what will happen will be less severe: or, the product will benefit others. In any case, it is a difficult challenge once again due to the technical nature of the product.


Numbers can be difficult to understand as well as risk. Many people don’t understand concepts like absolute risk or relative risk numbers, so you can sometimes use these concepts in a message to obfuscate or inflate risk, but you risk losing the trust of your audience if they understand the numbers. So numerical concepts don’t always help. When combined with fear, they can be effective but often are not. So it becomes a difficult challenge to talk about technical concepts and simplify them enough through metaphors, pictures, etc. to make them understandable.


Another difficulty that comes with this type of marketing is to get consistent messaging out there through materials created with concern and care. Central messaging is necessary for consistency, but, often, emotions and messengers get in the way. And it can be difficult to control the messaging and messages coming from your own team. Even though many people share the same goals, they don’t often understand the effect that their methods and messaging have and this can be difficult to overcome. Marketing and usage guidelines can help, but many of the messengers will go off script or create their own scripts. Yet another challenge to overcome.


Then you have to deal with and handle the messaging from the direct competition, with similar products or services, as well as those that simply don’t want aspects of your products or services to be available. As your product gets more visibility, gets used more, the “other team” will start attempting to provide messages that are contrary to yours. While the direct response by the providers, companies, and agencies themselves may be more measured and controlled, it is difficult to control the responses of those that are more emotionally involved. Once again, it provides more difficult challenges to marketing and sales.


In any case, as you can see, the marketing challenges can be difficult, regardless of which particular product or service you are attempting to sell in the emotional marketplace. And, having conversations about any particular aspect can also be challenging. The challenge of marketing this line of product will likely increase in difficulty over the coming year.


Keep in mind that, if it is difficult for the marketing and sales teams, it is even more difficult for the consumers to receive, process, clarify, accept, and act on the information. While some will argue that they are evaluating the information logically, scientifically, statistically, and without emotion, most will often act based on emotions using the information that they’ve evaluated in one of these different ways. And, many just may not care.


I wish each of you nothing but the best health in your journey and hope that you can navigate the information available and make the choices that are best for you. Feel free to follow my ramblings at the links listed below:



Tom Seest

I Help Entrepreneurs Harness the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Grow Their Businesses.