Using FOMO to Beat Your Competition

Consumers and humans in general are often in a state of frenzy, taken down by the fear of missing out on something someone else has, is doing, is experiencing, and thus falling behind in our conscious and even more unconscious need to be better, stronger, faster and more poised to survive than others in the world around us.

Voo Doo Donuts
“Voo Doo Donuts” | Credit: Jeanette McMurtry

It’s a real and paralyzing psychological state of mind that drives much of what your customers think, buy and do. And for that matter, you too!

Consumers and humans in general are often in a state of frenzy, taken down by the fear of missing out on something someone else has, is doing, is experiencing, and thus falling behind in our conscious and even more unconscious need to be better, stronger, faster and more poised to survive than others in the world around us.

Scientists, psychologists, sociologists and now us marketers call this it FOMO — the Fear of Missing Out, which drives us to addictions of always being connected, always watching others, and following paths to make sure we are not left out of opportunities others have that would benefit us somehow, or that we never make bad choices that would set us back somehow.

Per an in-depth-article posted by ABC Online, “FOMO can be described as the feeling that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.”

And this fear can lead to high levels of anxiety, frenetic behavior and stress that our lives are not all they should be, that we will not reach the potential promoted through poetic social tiles on so many “friends” Facebook pages, or find the levels of self-actualization and joy we see in others promoted all over the Web.

FOMO can either paralyze us into a state of indecision or retreat to deal with deep feelings of failure, or it can invigorate us to get going and get doing what everyone else is doing. For businesses in B2B and B2C, there is a lot of good here we can tap.

My favorite example is illustrated by the line you see in the photo associated with this post. This line is about one hour, maybe two, in a remote part of Portland, Ore., a couple of miles from the mainstream attractions of downtown. Yet day and night, the line wraps around the block — as you see in the photo. It is nothing more than a doughnut store. And when I took this photo, it was raining.

People would ask me what the line was for, and more often than not, when I told them it was for doughnuts, they’d think for a moment and then jump in. And when people came out of the store with their precious doughnuts in hand, those still in line would stretch and strain to get a glimpse of this doughnut that they simply could not miss out on trying and being able to post and tweet about if it was indeed as cool as the long line implied it would be.

This is not just related to the force that social proof has over our thoughts and actions, but to our fears of not having what others have that in the end elevates their chance of survival over ours — be it a social, physical, financial, emotional or materialistic advantage. We can promote how in-demand our products and services are, and how far consumers will go to get what we offer. We can also offer some intrigue, like the doughnut store does by using interesting curious names for the doughnuts, to which they add bacon, whipped crème, sprinkles, pretzels and other novel toppings. If something is different from the norm, the FOMO often kicks in, even for things we don’t really need or know we want at the time.

The reality for marketers to note is that our FOMO has reached epic levels, as we are constantly exposed to new opportunities, events, experiences, products and opportunities to increase our personal cool factor scores with our smartphones, to which we are addicted 24/7. We check our phones and social pages constantly to make sure we are not missing out on the latest news, information, sales, events and so on.

How can we ethically tap into FOMO to build our brand and sales? Well, we’ve been doing it for years, as inspired by Lester Wunderman and other pioneers in direct response marketing. Those CTAs or calls to action that shout, “Act now, while supplies last,” or “Limited time only” or “Only three left in stock” propel us to act before someone else gets what we want and leaves us empty-handed, all appeal to  FOMO and provide us a way to avoid it. This appeal has always worked, and always will. So don’t drop it just because everyone has been using it for decades. Human nature, when it comes to psychological triggers, doesn’t change and never will.

Essentially, overcoming FOMO addresses our survival DNA, and helps us feel superior and capable of surviving over others. Therefore, if brands can create opportunities that make us feel exceptional, exclusive and superior in some way, we are more likely to capture their attention and better engage them in conversations and events that lead to purchases, repeat purchases, referrals and increased lifetime value.

Ways to do this that could cost you nothing or cost you a lot, depending on how you intend to execute, include:

  • Customer VIP Events. This works for B2B and B2C. Host an event that is more meaningful and valuable for customers than your brand, and send them away with much more than they expected. They will feel appreciated, grateful and that they have something others don’t. Your brand!
  • Create Special Offers for customers that have chosen to align with you. Offer discounts, early-bird pricing, free gifts and other perks for customers and members of your loyalty team only. Offer perks frequently enough to remind them that they are part of something exclusive that gives them that edge over others.
  • Offer Exclusive Products to “members only.” Costco is starting to do this more and more, because it works and it can work for your small or large brand, as well. Find a product that reflects the values of your customers and helps elevate their status in business or personal circle, and offer it exclusively to people that have chosen to align with your brand. Make it worth staying aligned with your brand and worth opening up your future emails to see what’s next in your offerings.

Regardless of what business you are in, make customers feel like they are getting something from you; be it service, products, insights, content and so on, that they can’t get elsewhere, and that others not in your “fold” can’t get. Again, something as simple as an event invitation or content like a checklist to success, can be the difference that takes FOMO out of your customers’ minds and puts your brand in for life!

8 Creative Ways to Write More Effective Google AdWords Copy

Writing tight, compelling ads is one of the biggest challenges of Google AdWords. You get 25 characters for a headline, then two 35-character lines for description text. That’s too little room for carelessness, but more than enough to pique your prospects’ interests — if you know what you’re doing.

Writing tight, compelling Adwords copy is one of the biggest challenges of Google AdWords.

Other forms of advertising give substantially more room to convey your company’s message. But AdWords simply isn’t built for drawn-out sales pitches. You get 25 characters for a headline, then two 35-character lines for description text. Considering the average English word is about five characters long, you’ll get maybe five to seven words per line at maximum.

That’s too little room for carelessness, but more than enough to pique your prospects’ interests — if you know what you’re doing. Here, we’ll review eight tips for writing lean, compelling ads that grab attention and boost conversions.

1. Fulfill Needs

People are easily attracted by what they’re looking for — that’s why you should always test including your target keyword in your ad copy.

But why not go further? People don’t use Google looking for keywords, do they? No, they go online looking for answers. They have needs that must be met. If you can write an ad that promises to meet their needs, then you’ll likely get their clicks.

Here’s an example. Imagine you owned a plumbing business, and you’re advertising your around-the-clock clog-removal services. Your ad could claim “We’ll clear your drain fast, 24/7.” It’s what your customers would want to hear.

2. Wield the Fear of Missing Out

If you’re looking to make a purchase, then what’s worse than missing out on the best deal?

The fear of missing out — known as loss aversion — is a powerful motivating factor that you can use to your advantage. AdWords is equipped with an ad customizer feature that lets you create countdowns for when sales start and expire. If you’re advertising a big sale, or if you’re providing a limited-time service, adding a countdown can create a sense of urgency that drives more visitors to your website.

3. Create a Strong Call to Action

A call to action, or CTA, is the part of your ad that tells your reader what to do. And by that, we don’t mean telling the user to click your ad (that would be against the AdWords terms of service). The CTA is where you say “order today!” or “request a free quote.” It could even be something that’s not directly linked to sales, such as “read our amazing reviews!”

4. Timeliness Is Important

Breaking news is always more exciting than old news. It’s fresh. It just happened. It’s way more relevant to the here and now.

Bring that same sense of timeliness to your ads with references to the month or season. Say how many customers you served the month before, or mention a big seasonal sale. Don’t hesitate to invoke the holidays if they’re relevant to your ads.

Triggering Dopamine Shots in Copywriting

When your phone rings, or you hear that chime telling you an email, text or other notification has come in, what do you do? Most likely you drop everything to see what it is. It’s a conditioned response, and there are reasons why your brain stops thinking and checks what just came to your attention. It’s called …

Marin blog brainWhen your phone rings, or you hear that chime telling you an email, text or other notification has come in, what do you do? Most likely you drop everything to see what it is. It’s a conditioned response, and there are reasons why your brain stops thinking and checks what just came to your attention. It’s called the fear of missing out.

But let’s dig a bit deeper for a moment about what happens in the brain. It’s actually dopamine at work. And in a moment I’ll share three ideas about how marketers and copywriters can use it to grab attention.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter chemical that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to sense rewards, but to take action to move toward them.

When we’re alerted, a dose of dopamine is naturally released. It makes us feel important. When we’re rewarded, we feel good. And if the reward is unexpected, the mood of pleasure will soar.

Technology, it would seem, is wiring the primitive human brain more and more to expect and crave dopamine. We want to hear a chime to distract us (especially if we’re bored or need an attitude boost). We’re rewarded when that happens. The more dopamine “shots” our bodies release, the more it takes to experience the same lift next time. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do we inject a dopamine shot in our marketing and copywriting? Three ideas:

  • Alert prospects and customers so they’re the “first to know.” When people fear missing out, they want to be the first to know of an important development, new product or news. And, when your prospect is the first to know, they get another dopamine fix when they’re first to tell others and pass it along (to your benefit).
  • Share an inside story. People like to know the inside scoop. Combine insider information with storytelling. Then spin insider information as your unique selling proposition.
  • Leverage limited time offers. When there is a limited time a product is available, it intensifies desire to acquire it now.

What other dopamine shot ideas do you suggest in copy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Want more tips and advice about how to align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks so you can attract more customers? I’ve put together a seven-step guide to help you titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” Or get all the details in my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore.