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In our most recent episode we discussed AIDA, the four stages a prospect goes through from “who are you?” to “here’s my Visa”. In it, I said that the last phase – action – is usually the one business owners find the most challenging because people are inert, and getting them off their asses can be tricky. We said that there were three traditional approaches to spurring action, and those were scarcity, urgency, and objection reversal. Over the next few episodes we’re going to cover each of them in turn. But today, give me 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… scarcity.
Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.
Transcript & Shownotes
Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re continuing with our blast from the past theme – we’re tackling scarcity. I’m going to tell you what it is and why it’s good, I’m going to show you five types of scarcity, I’m going to help you decide if it’s a good angle for you, and then I’m going to give you two really important tips for how to not screw it up.
Let’s do this.
In our most recent episode we discussed AIDA, the four stages a prospect goes through from “who are you?” to “here’s my Visa”. In it, I said that the last phase – action – is usually the one business owners find the most challenging because people are inert, and getting them off their asses can be tricky. We said that there were three traditional approaches to spurring action, and those were scarcity, urgency, and objection reversal. Over the next few episodes we’re going to cover each of them in turn. But today, scarcity.
Let’s take it from the top.
Imagine you had two kittens and one food bowl. In the morning, you get up and put food in the bowl. One of the kittens says to their kitten self, “Look! Food! I should get in on that!” and goes to eat. The other kitten is aware that there’s food, but is having an awfully fun time destroying your favorite sweater right now, so they figure they’ll get to it later.
In the meantime, kitten one discovers there is no competition for the food, and nobody is dissuading them from eating it to their heart’s content. So they eat the lot and fall over into a food coma.
Later, sweater kitten has done all the damage she can do and moseys over to the food bowl. To her dismay, the food bowl is empty. Sucks to be you, kitten two – it’s all gone, and it’s not coming back.
It does not take many repetitions of this cycle for kitten two to learn a very powerful life lesson. That lesson is “get off your fluffy little butt”.
Scarcity is usually the easiest marketing angle to pull off because it’s a concept all of us – woman and kitten alike – understand intuitively: sometimes resources are scarce. When we were in kindergarten and the teacher said to come over and listen to the story, we intuitively grasped that if we didn’t hustle, all the good seats would be gone and we wouldn’t be able to see the pictures of the dragon because Stupid Sheldon’s big head would be in the way. Get off your fluffy little butt. We understood it in caves – get a seat close to the fire, get meat before it’s gone, secure that high-value mate. Get off your fluffy little butt runs deep in our DNA.
So, what does this look like in practice for you and your little business?
In its simplest form, it means that all things being equal, the easiest way to spur action is to alert people that there may not be enough to go around. If there are 10 seats in your seminar, the 11th ass is going to be very disappointed.
There are a few common ways to apply scarcity.
- One, there are not enough things. This is the simplest. I made 100 of these things. If you want one, buy it now, because if you don’t, someone else will.
- Two, there are not enough things at this price point. This is when a certain number of things are available for a certain price, but after those people have bought, the price goes up. This is hard to pull off for most of us because most of us have no boundaries, and when people without boundaries set boundaries, they come off like angry threats. Incidentally, crowdfunding platforms use a form of this when there are a certain number of rewards available at a certain price point.
- Three, there are not enough bonus things. You’ll see this sometimes in information marketing when sellers offer early bird bonuses. The first X people who buy get this cool thing, or these cool things. This is VERY effective for buyers who are not price sensitive. If your people have plenty of money, the promise of saving some of it is often not enough to spur action. But exclusive goodies? They’re in. (As an aside, I have seen this done up to five levels of bonuses. The first five people get a consult with me. The first ten get a website review. The first 50 get this exclusive live class. And so on. It may be a little excessive, but it has been done.)
- Four, there are not enough things and it will be a long time before they come back. This is the model for cyclical live events. Every year I do this thing and there are this many seats. If you don’t get it now, it’ll be next year before you’ll get another chance. This is the Bath and Body Works seasonal model – if you want the Vanilla Bean Noel candle, buy a lot, because we’re going to take it away capriciously until next year.
- Five, there are not enough things and they are never coming back, or they may never come back. An astrologist selling an event for how to handle this eclipse season would be doing this. There is never going to be another this eclipse season again, so are you in or are you out?
Now, the question on everybody’s minds – should you be using scarcity in your marketing?
The answer is probably and maybe.
If there is a good, understandable reason why there are a limited number of things for sale, scarcity is usually your easiest angle. You can complicate and complexify and reinvent the wheel trying to find a unique marketing angle… or you can say “there are 10”. This is good for coaching and service, or for events where there are a limited number of seats.
If there is no good, understandable reason why there are a limited number of things for sale, but you’re confident and pretty good at copywriting, you can still use this. You just gotta be bold about it. You gotta be able to say, “I’m only selling 100 of these things” with no JADE. Do you know JADE? It’s an acronym for talking to irrational or difficult people. Don’t justify, argue, defend, or explain. Don’t justify why there are only 100. Don’t explain your reasoning. Nobody cares. Just say it like the badass you are and move on.
If, however, neither of these situations apply to you, then your scarcity will be manufactured and not organic. Badly manufactured scarcity is embarrassing to watch, so urgency and objection reversal might be better angles for your promotion.
Now, practical tips from someone who has been there and fallen on her face in the past:
If you are running a promotion over a set period of time like a launch, scarcity will affect your promotion arc. So, you were going to send four emails with videos promoting your thing, and your angle is “get off your fluffy little butt before we’re all sold out”.
You need to have a plan for what happens if you sell out earlier than you expect. You can’t keep sending sales messages for a product that’s no longer for sale. (Well, you could. It’s gutsy as hell, but it would be amazing social proof. “You can’t buy this anymore because everyone else already did, but here’s some free training anyway.” Wow, that’s some good social proof if you’ve got the stomach for it.)
But assuming you’re not going to do that, plan your launch arc with the intention of selling out, which means do not promise what is to come. Don’t say, “in my next video I’ll explain blah blah blah”, because there may not be a next video. Don’t say this is a series, because this may not be a series. Let your pieces stand alone and don’t make promises for the future.
Second, if you don’t sell out and you’ve made a big screaming fuss about scarcity, you might feel silly. Plan for that. The best way to do this is to gradually pull back on the scarcity messaging over the course of the launch. Make a big stink at the beginning and pull it back as you go. You can also keep your options open by combining scarcity and urgency with something like, “this will be available until Tuesday, or until all seats are sold, whichever comes first”.
Now, speaking of urgency, that just so happens to be the subject of our next episode! Until then, take great care of yourself. I’ll see you soon.
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