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FOBI – A Pleasant Fear

An abbreviation is a truncated word; an acronym is made up of parts of the phrase it stands for and is pronounced as a word; an initialism is an acronym that is pronounced as individual letters. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is an initialism. AIDS is an acronym, while HIV is an initialism. The Oxford English Dictionary records the first printed use of the word initialism as occurring in 1899, but it did not come into general use until 1965, well after acronyms had become common. 

We are all aware of a range of new, and not so new, trendy acronyms that express various emotional or behavioural states. These include:

  • FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
  • FOBO – Fear Of Better Options
  • JOMO – Joy Of Missing Out
  • SLOMO – Slow to Missing Out
  • FOJI – Fear Of Joining In
  • MOMO – Mystery Of Missing Out
  • FOMOMO – Fear Of the Mystery Of Missing Out

The common denominator between these acronyms, and others, is fear. One definition of fear is “An unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” These states all allude to some form of the unpleasant condition.

Given that the main purpose of marketing communication is to reinforce existing ideas and/or behaviour or, to change existing ideas and/or behaviour, if nothing else, marketing communication needs to be relevant to the targeted audience. For further reading on communication, relevance see 

I would like to share an acronym that, in my view, portrays a pleasant, positive and necessary state or ‘fear’, and is useful in the marketing content generation space. That acronym is:

FOBI – Fear of Being Irrelevant

I use this ‘fear’ as a lens or paradigm whenever I am generating content. I do this to drive the effectiveness of my content. No matter how many targeted people I reach and how often I reach them if my content does not resonate with their needs, my (and my client’s) resources and budget will be mostly wasted. 

“Create relevance, not awareness.” (Steve Jobs)

Content relevance is incredibly significant and FOBI is a useful arrow to have in your content generation quiver. 

Happy writing!
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