It’s five o’clock. You’ve had multiple text messages from friends urging you to join them for a drink at the local watering hole. You’d like to go. You could use a drink.
But you also need to do some laundry tonight or you’re going to be wearing YSU sweatpants and your “Keep Calm and Carry On” T-shirt tomorrow. The boss won’t like that. Plus you’re tired from staying up last night binge-watching seasons two, three and four of Breaking Bad. You need to go home. You should go home.
On the other hand, you’re starting to picture all your friends laughing and having fun. Maybe playing drinking games. You can see that pretty blonde girl from the attorney’s office there — the one who always smiles at you. “Yeah,” you tell yourself, “she’s probably going to be there. She always goes to that bar. She’ll probably wonder where I am. This is my chance to ask her out.”
Suddenly you notice how anxious and tense you’re feeling. You notice you’re gritting your teeth and gripping the steering wheel so hard you think you might break it. You realize you’ve been sitting in your car outside your office for 15 minutes. “What’s wrong with me?” you wonder.
That’s simple. You have FOMO — Fear of Missing Out. And you know you’ll never get over it unless you go to that bar for at least a little while. Otherwise your friends will be telling you tomorrow that it was “the best ever get-together.”
So you suck it up and hit the bar. The laundry goes undone, and when you go to work the next day you are wearing a pair of pants you found in the bottom of the hamper and an old shirt that hasn’t fit since college.
That’s because FOMO is powerful. It can motivate you and move you to do things you’re not sure you wanted to do. Things you even regret later. But they’re still things you didn’t want to miss.
Smart marketers have always recognized the power of FOMO. They use it as an incentive to “buy now.” “ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT for the after-Memorial Day sale!” reads the newspaper ad. “Don’t miss out!” the car dealer says, “Sign and Drive Days are almost over.”
Does FOMO work? Yes. Nobody wants to miss the “best deal of the year,” right? Everybody wants to buy at the best possible price — not just to save money but also for the bragging rights. “I got the best deal ever,” you want to tell your friends.
There are not many marketers that do FOMO marketing better than the Home Shopping Network. They have a little ticker at the bottom of the screen that warns you there are only 23 left. Hurry or you don’t get those terrific artificial gemstones at such a great price.
There are plenty of other ways to use FOMO. You’ve probably seen: “Limited seating” or “Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m.” or “Last chance to continue to get your free subscription.”
How can you add FOMO to your existing marketing? Use it to build excitement around your products and services. Use teasing messages about a big sale or event. Keep the mystery up and release just a little info at a time. Use FOMO in your social media efforts to offer an exclusive experience that no one else can get.
FOMO may not be the right tool for every situation, but most smart marketers can make it work for them. If you’ve ever experienced it, you can get that FOMO working for your marketing.