Using Dopamine in Copywriting to Create the Fear of Missing Out

When your phone rings or 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. 
1 Comment

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.