Last weekend I was in Steamboat, Colorado, celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday with family. On one of the first runs of the day, he was flying down the slopes, just generally showing off.
Hitting jumps, skiing backward, deliberately doing sketchy stuff.
Until he flew off one particularly sketchy mogul and managed to “yard sale” – skiing terminology for a crash in which you lose everything – your poles, your skis, your dignity.
It’s a little bit like this:
When his gear and self-respect went flying in a tumble of snow, he also tweaked his calf muscle and was all bent out of shape about how he might have ruined his whole weekend with that one dumb move.
We skied down to the lift, hopped on, and when we arrived back at the top of the mountain, there was talk about where to go next. My husband and some of the other guys wanted to go try a few “extreme terrain” runs that the rest of us weren’t game for.
And then there was my brother-in-law, who should’ve been taking it easy after the fall, but who was so caught in the grip of FOMO (fear of missing out) that he could not make the better, safer choice of skipping those runs.
He went and did them anyway.
The thought of not going with his friends to find some powder stashes in the chutes was just too awful.
FOMO is a powerful thing. It can make you take risks. People make all kinds of decisions based on FOMO.
Individual decisions, like buying expensive concert tickets, going to a grand opening of a brewery, or entering a race. Or corporate decisions, like attending a trade show or conference, or even springing for a Super Bowl ad.
To harness FOMO and use it to drive your customers or prospects to do something you want them to do, you have to understand FOMO.
“For my ally is the FOMO, and a powerful ally it is.” – Yoda
Like the Force, FOMO has always been there. Unlike the Force, FOMO is universal. It’s inside of all of us.
We may not have had an acronym for the feeling until recently, and certainly, it’s exacerbated by social media, but it’s always been there in some form.
As marketers, we need to make the FOMO our ally. And to do that, you must truly understand your customers.
Who are they?
What drives them?
What are they afraid of missing out on?
What would motivate them to act?
Ski resorts understand this well. As an Ikon pass holder, I have somehow opted in for emails from all the resorts that are affiliated with the pass, and I get powder updates and notifications from them.
They send me emails with embedded videos of people skiing through feet of snow, the beautiful white fluffy stuff flying everywhere.
And does this ever ignite my FOMO. I know I am missing out as the snow comes down. Maybe I should call in sick…
This is what you need to figure out. Get to the heart of what drives your customers, wait until the time is right, and then start raising the stakes. Here’s my advice for harnessing the power of FOMO:
- Start with customer research. You need to understand what drives them. What do they want more than anything? Does it match with what you’re offering?
- Master the message. What are you actually saying? What language are you speaking in – literally and figuratively – and does it match the way your customer speaks? Then there’s the question of the type of content they engage the most with: photos, video, or text.
- Pick your platform. Where do your customers live? In their inbox? Or Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? The platform goes hand-in-hand with the message. When done well together, they win.
- Get the timing right. As I mentioned before, I get an email from my favorite ski resorts when it is snowing. They are notifying me of current conditions so that I can take action based on this new information. When do your customers need to hear from you in order to get the most out of what you’re offering?
Activating FOMO in order to get your customers or prospects to take action doesn’t have to be disingenuous. I love skiing. As much as it tortures me to know about how many inches my local resorts are getting when I can’t go, I want to be notified.
If the stakes are high enough – foot upon foot of fresh snow – I might be motivated to take a risk in order not to miss out. I might be willing to leap over obstacles (traffic, transportation, work) in order to get there.
“Don’t Underestimate the FOMO.” – Darth Vader
If I convince you of one thing today, I hope it’s this one.
Don’t underestimate the power of FOMO. A lack of faith could cause YOU to miss out on the thing you desire most…
More sales. More conversions. More engagement from your customers.
If you truly get at the heart of what motivates your customers, they will do almost anything not to miss out.
Not only that, they will spread the FOMO for you.
That’s right. They will post photos on social media of them having the absolute best experience doing whatever it is you encouraged them to do. They will want their friends to be envious. They will ignite the FOMO in their followers.
And then it will snowball. And another coveted thing could even occur – viral content (more on that next time).
But you have to put the work into understanding them.