Discovering ‘FOTU’ in 2020 Marketing and Beyond

While its not hard “see” the above issues as they dominate news channels, it is sometimes hard to see how each may impact the success of our 2020 marketing efforts. At the end of the day, no clever campaign, no amount of social likes and shares, and no volume of media purchases can compensate for FOTU.

Making this post about “seeing clearly in 2020” is nothing short of trite and cliché. However, being  able to see all of the influences, attitudes, concerns, myths, and facts that inform and drive consumer behavior will be the difference between success and failure as we enter the new “roaring” ’20s.

And no surprise or argument here, but we are off to a roaring start. We’ve got an impeachment trial, a threatening war, an economy that is certainly uncertain, a pending election, and growing domestic issues like homelessness that are impacting communities and economies, nationwide.

While its not hard “see” the above issues as they dominate all news channels all day every day, it is sometimes hard to see how each may impact the success of our 2020 marketing efforts. And we need to take a long, deep look: Because at the end of the day, no clever campaign, no amount of social likes and shares, and no volume of media purchases can compensate for the FOTU (fear of the unknown), which is a close cousin to FOMO (fear of missing out).

Just some of the things we need to see, under a microscope, as we move toward perfect vision in 2020 include:

How Political Turmoil Affects Confidence in the Economy and, Thus, Spending

Think about it for a minute. No matter where you stand on current events, a supporter or not, all the negative energy we hear daily gets in your head. You can’t help but feel disgust with one side of the story for what you have learned to believe is “propaganda, contrived, politically motivated, or just plain deceit.” Whether it is or not, it affects you. Your brain gets muddled with harsh words, angry vocal tones, contradictions, and consciously and unconsciously your vessel gets full of chaos.

And when chaos strikes, we slow down, often giving into the fear of the unknown and hold onto what we have. We stop thinking of what we “want” and start focusing on what we need. We spend more on what we want vs. what we need and so when that mindset changes, so does our spending behavior.

Regardless of where you and your customers sit on the political fence, you need to present a brand that can calm the chaos, provide order or realism in a world that seems to have gone too deep into the fake side and chaotic uncertainty. And most importantly, you cannot take sides or you, too, become part of the chaos.

How a New Era of ‘Truth’ Impacts Consumer’s Trust in Society and, Ultimately, Brands

Lies, alternative facts, partial truths, misleading statements, altered statistics, and other little demons of communications strategies have gone from prevalent to accepted. As shocking as it is to see authorities and leaders and consumers and friends in our society defend what once was considered wrong, or still is considered wrong for non-politicians, it is more so, at least to me, shocking to see how many people are fine with it. This leads to a new standard of double standards and right vs wrong vs partially right or partially wrong. These attitudes create a new standard of trust that transcends community and political leadership, and brands. As we accept non-truths or misleading behavior in any aspect of our society, we learn to expect it. So if we accept it on a political and governing level, we tend to believe that everyone is guilty of the same behavior. So we learn to safely believe no one and nothing, including all of those claims of service and product quality, added values, and rewards of membership. We simply don’t believe as much as we used to and have learned to filter what we choose to believe, which is many cases, is very little.

Do a self check. Be honest. Are you more skeptical now than you were in three years ago? Five years ago?

What Consumers Want to Hear, Believe, and Who They Listen to

Even though you are not going to change your truth to fit the emotional needs of your customers, you have to pay attention, and close attention, to what your target audiences want to hear. As I’ve mentioned in my many other columns, we throw out truths, facts, and evidence if it doesn’t fit our construct of the world as we want to see it. What do you customers want to see? Again, don’t change your truth and put your integrity on the line for sales and profits. But do know what those issues are, as it gives you a glimpse of your customers’ values and what messages are likely to resonate with those values. Are they conservative? Liberal? Stay focused on messages that reflect the traditions that guide them.

Regardless of where you see your brand going in 2020,  take time to look deeply at what is happening around your customers, and how those happenings or “reported” happenings affect the mindset of your constituents. Does it add to FOTU, FOMO? Or spark heated debates on Facebook or across the fences? Survey your customers and learn what moves them, what scares them, what inspires them.

Ask much more than the typical NPS question and customer satisfaction questions. When you do, you will not only gain that 2020 vision, you set your brand up to roar in the best of the ‘20s yet to come.

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!

Fill in the Blanks: A Framework Where Strategy and Copy Writes Itself

A blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a strategy or write copy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is …

copy strategyA blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a copy strategy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is one that I have personally conceived and refined over the past years.

I use a seven-step framework to create copy strategy that aligns with how people naturally process information, think and lead themselves to a place where they give themselves permission to inquire, buy or donate. This is detailed in my new book, Crack the Customer Mind Code.

I used this framework once again last week when an organization called me in to meet about a troubled direct mail and online marketing program. I walked the team through the framework, and we were quickly able to identify the disconnect between the approach they were using and what they should be communicating instead. In an hour, a succinct “road map” was created. It became apparent why their recent marketing campaigns weren’t working, and in the second hour of our meeting, we wasted no time in talking through the implementation of a new copy strategy.

I use this framework when writing a letter, video script or content — virtually any copy that requires getting my point across with a story. With client input, we discuss and fill in the blanks in the matrix. The result is a framework that enables faster copywriting and testing.

Most importantly: The seven steps lead to short-term memory, and often the desired long-term memory that serves as the tipping point when the prospect becomes a customer (read how this framework creates new memory in The 3 Levels of Memory: Marketing’s End Game).

Here’s how it works: I create a matrix like the one below (download the PDF). I ask questions, and fill in the answers. Fill in the blanks in the right column and your strategy will reveal itself. Then use the information to start writing copy, and your message practically writes itself.

7-Step Framework for Creating Copy Strategy (opens as a PDF)

Gary Hennerberg gives you the details of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com

14 Quick Takeaways From #IMV16, ICYMI

We’ve already arrived in August, and this has been one busy whirlwind of a summer. Between major elections, summer vacations and Pokemon catching, we’ve all had our hands full. Point being, it’s entirely possible you missed out on some quality, free marketing education.

We’ve already arrived in August, and this has been one busy whirlwind of a summer. Between major elections, summer vacations and Pokemon catching, we’ve all had our hands full. Personally, I can’t focus on anything for longer than an hour until I finally get my hands on a Jigglypuff. (Millennials, amirite guys?)

Point being, it’s entirely possible you missed out on some quality, free marketing education. You might remember I wrote a little about the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, an event near and dear to my heart, in a post a few weeks ago. The virtual conference in all its expert marketing glory was live on June 23, and now you can access it on demand whenever your schedule clears up until September 27.

In the meantime, I took to the Tweets and compiled some of the best little nuggets of integrated marketing goodness that show attendees took from the numerous sessions and resources offered throughout the day. Ready for some lightning round takeaways and tips? Here goes!

  • Be more responsive than customers expect to create a great customer experience. -Jay Baer #imv2016 #IMV16 — Melyssa, ABC (‏@melyssa57)  June 23, 2016
  • Hug Your Haters! 1/3 of customer complaints are never answered. #IMV16 @TargetMktg — Kendra Morton ‏(@KendraAtAllCom) June 23, 2016
  • A great #customerexperience = exceeding customer expectations. #IMV16 @jaybaer — Polaris Direct ‏(@PolarisDirect) June 23, 2016
  • Kicking off #imv16 by learning about organization haters. Need to answer every complaint in every channel, every time to + customer advocacy — KathyDanielsPearman ‏(@kathyldaniels) June 23, 2016
  • Most customer complaints on social media go unanswered. “Blow their minds and win their hearts” #HugYourHaters @jayBaer #IMV16 #IMV16 — Dani (‏@danidoll11) June 23, 2016
  • 80% of Americans trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, via @jaybaer #IMV16 — Daniel Burstein (@DanielBurstein) June 23, 2016
  • Avg time it takes for a company to reply to complaints on #socialmedia is 5 hrs, but users expect 1 @jaybaer #IMV16 — Sales&Marketing Adv (@SalesMktgAdv) June 23, 2016

salesmktgadv1

  • “Customer service is a spectator sport” … so follow @jaybaer’s rule and don’t feed the #trolls #IMV16 – Nancy Simeone ‏(@100indecisions) June 23, 2016

dontfeedthetrolls

  • [#digitalmarketing] Answering a complaint online can increase customer advocacy by 25%. #IMV16 – Cyfer Solutions ‏(@cyfersolutions) June 23, 2016
  • Solid #marketing intel with @DanielBurstein from @MECLABS. Finding the gaps and exploiting the heck outta them! #IMV16 #IMV16 – Mary Rose Maguire ‏(@MRMaguire) June 23, 2016  
  • Great information about bridging the gap between #marketing and customer expectations in #IMV16. – Kimberly Weitkamp ‏(@k_weitkamp) June 23, 2016
  • According to @annebot at #IMV16, most people start scrolling on mobile before the page loads. – mobilefomo ‏(@mobilefomo)  June 23, 2016
  • Speed is king when it comes to mobile; if you put in the time, you will reap the rewards. -@annebot #IMV16 – WearableFOMO ‏(@WearableFOMO)  June 23, 2016
  • Your content needs to DRIVE customer experiences to truly be successful (and with that comes so much more!) #IMV16 – Sass Marketing ‏(@Sass_Marketing)  June 23, 2016

There you have it, a fresh sampling of marketing granola, perfect for the pro on the go. And hey, when you have an hour or two of downtime from hunting that Geodude or counting how many Pokemon references the media can make in a week (Spoiler: don’t bother, the limit does not exist), you can check out the full show and all its sessions for yourself.

The agenda is full of more than a dozen webinars covering all the marketing topics on your mind in 2016, led by cream of the crop experts. There’s also a fully stocked virtual exhibit hall and resource center, where you’ll find tons of free resources you can download for immediate use.

Go on and have a little click. Totally worth it, I promise you. Let me know if you check it out, or tweet your takeaways with the #IMV16 hashtag to add to the growing pile.

Till next time!

3 Ways to Use the Spell of FOMO in Copywriting

FOMO: The “Fear of Missing Out.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps this particular fear describes you or someone you know. FOMO is a phenomenon reported by 56 percent of social media users, and it even has its own hashtag. This particular fear isn’t just of missing out on social media posts, it extends to checking email, phone calls and more. More importantly to direct marketers, the driving emotion of the FOMO is powerful and when properly used

FOMO: The “Fear of Missing Out.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Perhaps this particular fear describes you or someone you know. FOMO is a phenomenon reported by 56 percent of social media users, and it even has its own hashtag. This particular fear isn’t just of missing out on social media posts, it extends to checking email, phone calls, and more. More importantly to direct marketers, the driving emotion of the FOMO is powerful and when properly used, you can write copy and create messaging to leverage this basic human fear.

The term FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. The acronym may be new, but classically trained direct mail copywriters have recognized the power of the fear of missing out for generations. We can use it in our copy to effectively sell because of how our brains are wired.

With mobile technology today, it is genuinely possible to become addicted to social networks because of the fear of missing out. It’s now effortless to compare and evaluate our own lives against that of our friends.

A survey last year of social media users by MyLife.com and reported by Mashable suggests:

  • 51 percent visit or log on to social networking sites more frequently now than two years earlier.
  • The average person manages 3.1 email addresses (up from 2.6 a year earlier).
  • 27 percent check their social networks as soon as they wake up.
  • 42 percent have multiple social networking accounts (61 percent for those age 18 to 34).
  • 56 percent are afraid of missing something such as an event, news or an important status update if they don’t keep an eye on social networks.

These stats suggest you’re more likely than not to be in the spell of FOMO.

But the reality is this: We’re all wired to have basic fear. And without taking inappropriate advantage of your prospective customers, there are ways you can appeal to this part of the brain—the amygdala—with messaging to make your sales programs more effective. Here are three uses with FOMO in mind as you write copy and create message positioning:

  • First to Know: If you fear missing out, you must surely want to be the first to know of an important development, new product or news. And, when you’re first to know, you’re most eager to tell others you’re first to know, and pass it along (to your benefit).
  • Inside Story: People like to have the inside scoop combined with effective storytelling. Combine the concepts of revealing your inside story with a unique selling proposition, or positioning, and the sum is greater than its parts.
  • Limited Time: When there is a limited time a product is available, it intensifies desire to acquire it now. The challenge today, however, is that it’s easy for customers to check out competition and discover that limited time appeal has its limits.

These uses also create urgency in your copy. Writing copy and messaging based on this intense human primal fear will drive higher response. There can be no question that the spell of FOMO is real and a part of your customer’s minds.