What can a savvy entrepreneur learn from the success of trendy music festivals like Coachella?

The driving force behind massively popular destination music festivals is at once simple yet difficult to obtain—a superior type of word-of-mouth marketing.

Such events are the subject of a mind-boggling number of social media posts and consumer-driven content. Many would like to emulate the victory this represents for a business, but unintentionally overlook the primary ingredient distinguishing Coachella’s approach from the approach of others. This is where the allure and supremacy of FOMO marketing comes into play.

Coachella, along with other related brands that have been able to leverage Coachella’s popularity, prosper due to the power of the experience they offer. They subsist on the philosophy that if you can make your audience love your product, service or event, the next step is making them hate the thought of not being able to experience it or document that experience. Their method has many lessons to teach us about self-propagating campaigns and FOMO-based strategies.

How FOMO Works

FOMO, aka Fear Of Missing Out, is one of those oddly appropriate acronyms that has blossomed out of the social media era. It’s a term used by stars and ordinary people alike to express a singular, difficult-to-ignore pressure.

FOMO is a heady combination of fear, insecurity and social status norms. When it comes to edgy, aesthetically avant-garde music festivals with celebrity headliners, FOMO presents itself as the need to be in on what’s popular. If a person was on the fence before, FOMO will likely be the nudge that pushes them to find a ticket at any cost. More compelling than their love for artists or outfits is the desire to avoid being the only one left out of the experience.

Social ostracization is central to FOMO. Reports have found that “69 percent of millennials experience FOMO when they can’t attend something that their family or friends are going to.” This enormous percentage should indicate a crucial opportunity to entrepreneurs. You can use FOMO’s very real emotional impact in the way you approach your product marketing.

Leverage the Build-Up

Coachella’s marketing is the definition of ubiquity. Whether you’ve actually attended the yearly California music festival or have simply stumbled over the name in news stories during springtime, it’s hard to miss the event’s prominence in the cultural sphere. But how has it continued to dominate as an annual multi-million dollar phenomenon?

FOMO—especially as it is very effectively used for Coachella—has many levels. One of these levels is the “build-up” to an event that everyone is scared of missing. FOMO doesn’t depend solely on the attraction of the product, service or event—it also depends on a litany of smaller value points leading up to the big deal. These are the promotional milestones that keep consumers engaged with and constantly anticipating the frenzy surrounding the event itself.

Build-ups can be used as a marketing technique to extend and strengthen FOMO. They work similarly to the kind of build-up heard in popular EDM tracks. A gradual build-up elevates the heart rate and stokes the fire of audience desire, in order to heighten the ultimate impression.

Just as Coachella has the line-up announcement, hectic ticket sale date, ticket mail out, event attendance and post-event photos, you too can create an experience that spans days, if not weeks. This enables you to stretch out your marketing budge and leave a lasting impression on your target audience.

Content Is Always King (and Don’t Forget It)

Beyond the build-up is what comes after the event. This is where the longevity of Coachella solidifies and FOMO is secured for the next year. The “hype” stems from content that attendees create to show off how wonderful their experience was.

According to recent data, “FOMO was triggered mostly by content related to trips (59 percent), parties and events (56 percent), and food (29 percent).” Displaying participation in or use of a socially admired product/event is FOMO’s lynchpin. It’s no surprise the feeling thrives on social media, since validation comes from proving something happened.

You can utilize this consumer-generated content creation to great effect. Encourage fans of your product, service or event to document their experiences. Provide a space and a hard-to-resist reason for them to share their photos or videos.

Many businesses can benefit from modeling Coachella’s marketing magnetism. Leverage build-up and incite fans to champion your brand by understanding the psychological drive of FOMO.

Millennial Latina Entrepreneur with a passion for creative storytelling. CEO and Founder at NightShift Digital.


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