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The fear of missing out and how it affects business decisions[ 7 min read ]

Have you heard of FOMO? No? The rise of social media has perpetuated the use of this term, though really we’ve been having this for years. We’ve probably all been a victim of FOMO, even if we didn’t know it. Perhaps when you were at university or school studying hard one evening, and the rest of your friends were out having fun. Yep, that feeling was FOMO. What about the panic to buy that limited edition item? Yep, you guessed it…FOMO…

There are many examples, both good and bad; but how on earth does this relate to us at The Smart Bear? Let’s have a look in more detail.

FOMO in marketing

FOMO is something which you can use in your marketing strategy. Marketers have been doing this for years before we even know there was the ‘new’ word for it all. Some people would argue that FOMO is the curse of the millennial, however I think all of us have been wrapped up in these campaigns since we were youngsters.

The main two parts to any campaign utilising these fears would be around creating a sense of urgency, and also creating some feeling of exclusiveness. How many times have you been victim to a sense of urgency in marketing? Limited edition products, sales, or time sensitive offers are all tapping into our ‘fears’.


You’ll often see big countdown timers on websites in the lead up to a launch of a new product or the start of a sale. I am sure you must have heard about the hysteria around some of the big brand clearance sales? People camping out to get the latest bit of technology?

There are countless examples where the marketing team have created a level of near hysteria around some product or service based on that sense of urgency. Depending on which side of the fence you are on, this can be both good and bad.

It’s good for the tech giants, for example, who release endless new versions of their best selling smartphone, not so good for us freelancers sat at home wondering if the next person we meet will laugh at our archaic smart(ish) phone!


What about exclusivity? Think you are not going to succumb to this message?  Buy this product, and you become part of some elite group? We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form. It’s often seen with the big fashion houses, or the luxury car market. For a long time these items were the preserve of the rich and famous. Now, perhaps not so. They are still selling that feel of exclusivity, but to more of the mass market.

As someone with a small income, that Ferrari (or in my case a 1969 Shelby Mustang) or Chanel suit will not be high on our list of things to spend our cash on. Perhaps we don’t even have that sort of money. But we could buy into that luxury market on a smaller scale. Chanel perfume anyone? Ferrari keyring? They are all allowing us to buy into that exclusive brand, but at a much more affordable price point.

What about Amazon? How are they selling into the ‘luxury’ market? How many people signed up to Prime because basically they were getting a more exclusive service? Well, according to recent figures, over 100 million people are paying that extra cost to get the extra benefits that prime brings.

All of these are playing to our desires of not wanting to miss out!

So what does that mean for a website?

Again, there are various ways of looking at this. If you want to use FOMO in your marketing strategy then by all means you could add content to your website which would see your client tap into either the urgency or exclusivity of your product.

Banners showing limited offers, copy which explains the exclusivity of your product will all work well. Online hotel booking sites do really well with this. If you go and check out your favourite hotel; some will tell you how many people have looked at that particular place in the last hour. Other sites, such as department stores may tell you their stock levels. That must have item that you were considering purchasing looks a lot more attractive to you when there is only one left in stock!  Again both of these are tapping into that FOMO feeling.

But hold on, I am the one with FOMO!

Imagine you’ve just started working with a web developer, and they’ve asked you to have a look at your competitors sites, or perhaps even sites of the people you admire. How does that make you feel?

Some people are going to be totally fine with this exercise, others perhaps not. I know I’d be the one not OK! I’d be the one thinking that I should be offering more, doing more; perhaps even using a different branding colour scheme. Everything would go through my head in a great rush of thoughts. So how do you get back on track with the task in hand, and conquer that FOMO?

First of all, do you really want a website which is exactly the same as the one you’re looking at? Probably not. That person made their choices based on their businesses, and their needs. Not yours. The fear in this case is just reminding you that there are infinite possibilities and we all have the chance to choose one from any number of paths.

People are coming to your website, because they want to check you out; not the guy down the street. You have to be you, and not be fixated on your competition.

Is your fear trying to tell you something positive?

In our scenario, then the chances are it’s what drove you to seek out a web developer in the first place! Either the site you have now is just not you, or you know that you need something. Your fears are actually helping you to make a great choice for your business. The underlying knowledge that you need to make some changes is actually a great plus point. What about the reverse of this? Is this just a case of your mind telling you that this isn’t the right time to make this change?

Hopefully this blog has given you something to think about. We’re not psychologists, though we do see a number of clients who are on both sides of this fence. There is no right or wrong answer on how you go about your marketing or creating a website. There is always going to be a new shiny thing which is just that little bit better than what you have right now. Be that your smartphone, your shoes or your website.

The trick is to go with what works for you, and please do not keep on comparing yourself or your offering to someone else.

Still feeling that twinge of fear when you think about your website? Why not get in touch? We’d love to talk to you about how we can help.

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