As a small business owner, it can be challenging to find the time to study the latest in marketing and find new ways of reaching your target audience. A marketing campaign based on FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” taps into consumers’ psychological need to feel included in exciting events. In a study of university students, the participants reported feeling left out no matter how they found out about an activity they didn’t receive an invitation to.
FOMO is a powerful psychological tool, which works well at convincing new customers to try what you’re offering. However, you must also use it responsibly. You don’t want to manipulate your target audience, nor will this help with your brand image. There’s a time and place for FOMO marketing. You should consider some best practices that help you reach new customers, without turning anyone off your business model.
1. Share Customer Stories
More than likely, you’re familiar with testimonials as a marketing tool. Sharing the stories of your customers indicates people already use your product or service. Guide the people giving testimonials to explain they are going to share information on how your product solved their unique problems. While the testimonials should be 100 percent authentic and only from customers who believe your product is impressive, you can certainly explain the premise of FOMO to them, why you want to focus on how they use the product and why others should too.
2. Use Influencers
Influencer marketing uses the reach of online and in-person influencers to pull in a new audience and teach them about your brand. While it’s different than FOMO marketing, the two work hand-in-hand. One example of FOMO and influencer marketing colliding is the promotion campaign for the Fyre Festival. Even though the result of the Fyre Festival was infamously disastrous, the marketing behind it was ingenious. Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland worked with other marketers to bring in more than 400 influencers to promote their festival online with the hashtag #fyrefestival. Some of the world’s top supermodels — Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin and Bella Hadid — posted glamorous photos of themselves in the Bahamas on Instagram, as did dozens of musical acts hired to play at the music festival. It seemed as though everyone who was anyone was going to the festival, which made younger people feel they’d miss out on something amazing if they didn’t attend.
3. Make Sure You Can Deliver
Unfortunately, the Fyre Festival organizers were unable to deliver on their expansive promises for beautiful villas, gourmet food and original musical acts. Instead, Billy McFarland was charged with fraud, pled guilty and sentenced to six years in federal prison. Before you make high-flying promises or enlist others to do so, make sure you can deliver on what you’re offering. If you plan an event and use FOMO marketing to drive registrations, underpromise and overdeliver, instead of the other way around. While most people’s mistakes don’t rise to the level of federal charges, your reputation suffers if you get too carried away with marketing and fail to keep your word. Make sure you can deliver on your promises and always put the customer’s needs at least equal with your company’s, if not ahead of your needs.
4. Compare FOMO and Scarcity Marketing
You probably think FOMO marketing is simply scarcity marketing with a new moniker. However, there are some differences between the two. Starting a countdown of how many items remain can trigger a fear response that the person might miss out on the product. However, FOMO also goes much deeper into the fear of getting left out of something everyone else is doing. Think of it more as bandwagon marketing than scarcity marketing. Everyone else is doing this thing, so I should be doing it too. Social pressure drives FOMO. Hotels.com is a good model of using FOMO effectively. If you view a property on their site, they show you how many others have viewed that same property and even for the same date range. You can see at a glance how in-demand the property is, which can push you to go ahead and reserve before all the available spots are gone.
5. Use Social Proof
Social media is a powerful force in FOMO. People often share amazing experiences and things they’ve done which you may have missed out on. Even sharing pictures of the food someone ate at a fabulous new restaurant triggers a response in people. This makes them want to eat at the restaurant and experience the delicious meal as well. Use the drivers of social media and show how everyone is interested in your content.
For example, add share buttons to your website or ask those on your social media pages to share your posts. You should then highlight how many people have shared an article or your posts. You’ve probably seen this on sites such as Best Buy where they highlight their reviews and how many others have bought and reviewed the item. When you see an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars and tens of thousands of reviews, you fear you’ll miss out on a fantastic product and deal, so you take a closer look.
6. Reward Quick Decisions
Another tactic you can try is rewarding those who make a quick decision on FOMO marketing. Timed offers combined with FOMO marketing urge the user to go ahead and make the purchase. You could also pair limited offers with a guarantee or other trust factors. All the types of marketing covered in our small business marketing guide work together, rather than in a vacuum.
7. Create Promotional Products
Create an immediate fear of missing out by giving out branded merchandise at an event. As people see others walking around with a promotional bag, they want a bag as well. However, a branded product isn’t just used on the day it’s handed out. The person may carry a promotional bag for years, take it to the grocery store and tell others about the company behind the giveaway. Expand the FOMO aspect of your bag by creating a limited number in a specific color or with a particular print. You can always create a different bag later on, but limiting the number of a popular design drives people to your booth at an event and creates buzz.
There are several options when handing out promotional bags at an event. You could provide the bags as people enter the venue, so they have something in which to collect the other material gathered at a typical trade show. To tap into FOMO, have trade show organizers announce that you’ll hand out free promotional items for the next ten minutes to anyone who stops by your booth. You’ll gather a crowd of people, which will draw more attention and excitement. You can make the offer throughout the event in ten-minute segments. Think about what drives people away from your competitors and toward you, including demonstrations and free giveaways.
Use FOMO Sparsely
Remember, FOMO marketing is powerful — use it infrequently. If you constantly try to make your target audience feel they’re missing out, your efforts may backfire. You also should never manipulate your followers, so be upfront about what they’ll receive, the benefits and who else is using the product or service, but then let them make up their minds. No one likes a pushy salesperson, and marketing is a form of selling. Use FOMO when it makes sense and with integrity, and you can’t go wrong.
CHAPTER 7: Transactional Marketing CHAPTER 9: Neuromarketing
The Small Business Marketing Guide: Introduction
Chapter 1: Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns
Chapter 2: Influencer Marketing
Chapter 3: Conversational Marketing
Chapter 4: CMS Marketing
Chapter 5: Brand Marketing
Chapter 6: Scarcity Marketing
Chapter 7: Transactional Marketing
Chapter 8: FOMO Marketing
Chapter 9: Neuromarketing
Chapter 10: Close Range Marketing
Chapter 11: Guerrilla Marketing
Chapter 12: Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Chapter 13: Target Marketing
Chapter 14: Diversity Marketing
Chapter 15: Undercover Marketing
Chapter 16: Cause Marketing
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.