What is FOMO? Fear Of Missing Out

Kate Pullen
By Kate Pullen / April 12, 2017

You may have seen the term FOMO and wondered what it means. Well, it stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is when as individuals we worry about missing out on something and while this might apply to people who go to a party, not because they want to, but because they worry they may miss something really exciting if they don’t go, this also applies to our buying habits. And this is something that marketers tap into – our fear of missing out.

Fear Of Missing Out Marketing

As humans, we only really focus on things, whether it’s shopping, homework or a variety of other things, when we have to, and for many of us, we’re inclined to leave till tomorrow what we could do today – unless we have a really good reason to do so today.

However, spur us into action with a deadline or a limited supply of something, and we focus on what ever it is we need to focus on.

Marketers going back into the dim mists of time have recognized that concentrating the mind of shoppers and giving them a reason to buy NOW will help to generate sales.

Events like flash sales and Black Friday are classic FOMO driven events. People buy things not necessarily because they need something, but because if they don’t, they may not be able to buy that product at that price again (well, until the next sale 😉 ).

Fear Of Missing Out and Scarcity

Scarcity is what drives fear of missing out marketing. The fact that something might not be available tomorrow or that there are only three left will spur shoppers into action in a way that just doesn’t happen if the product will be available at that price for ever.

Therefore scarcity is the message that drives the fear of missing out.

Scarcity could be a limited time on a promotion, a limited number of products, products that are available for the first x number of purchasers etc.

There are a variety of ways that you can use fear of missing out in your marketing, it’s just a case of working out what’s best for you and your customers.

What FOMO Isn’t

FOMO isn’t a short cut to making sales. It’s works best with followers and fans.

FOMO is all about building excitement in potential customers and getting them focused on making a purchase today. However, in order for FOMO to really work, the potential customer must already be a ‘warm’ potential customer, someone who already knows your products and is likely to make a purchase – but at some wooly undefined date in the future. Fear of missing out will encourage this customer to focus and buy today – not tomorrow.

FOMO is unlikely to work with ‘cold’ potential customers, particularly with high value items. This is because you need to demonstrate the value to the shopper and the need/want that your product fulfils, so they fall in love with your product first.

Therefore before offering an item on sale for a short period of time or limiting the number of products you are going to offer at that price, make sure that the marketing ground work has already been done.

Dangers of FOMO

Overuse is the biggest danger that most marketing techniques face. Shoppers become blind to a certain promotional technique if they see it over and over again. A never-to-be-repeated sale, will lose it’s sparkle if it is in fact repeated monthly. Customers need to feel that you are the real deal, and the promotion is too!

How to Use FOMO In Your Handmade Business

There are a number of ways you can use FOMO in your promotions. Try flash sales or limited time offers. You could limit the number of items on offer.

Social media is a great way to communicate this. Get some excitement going with graphics and your posts, ensure your followers are engaged and ready – and then try a limited time promotion or a limited number of products, and see what happens. Be creative! I’ve seen a few promotions recently where the first person gets the price for $x, the second for $x +$1, the third for $x +2…

Auctions are another great example of FOMO – an auction is a great way to focus people’s minds!

The key thing is to test and see which approach works best for you.

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About the author

Kate Pullen

Kate is a long term marketing professional who made a lifestyle change and moved to Spain to follow her dream. She learned how to apply her business skills to her creative skills to grow a business. Her goal is to help others follow their dreams too.