Creating Scarcity: How to Make Your Clients Run, Not Walk
September 22, 2020
5 min read
- Running a timer or create a timed deadline increases urgency
- Limiting slots or limiting the supply creates urgency
- Discounting with time or supply is ineffective (and damaging over time)
- Run sales infrequently and unpredictably to avoid bad client shopping habits.
At its core, scarcity is a persuasive technique that plays on our wild roots. It's the fear of losing out on a potential gain. We encounter it on a daily basis at grocery stores and Amazon. For this discussion, I want to walk through why and how scarcity works in the consumer world and how you can implement for your next wedding photography sale or course launch.
Your goal is to create urgency and pressure on your client to get them to act when they would otherwise be complacent or hesitant. It's coercive, it's pressure and should be handled with care.
Your Mind at the Grocery Store
As lovable as our neighborhood grocery stores are, they have mastered the art of scarcity. As you walk the aisle, you encounter the core tactics of scarcity marketing: time-sensitivity and limited supply.
Time Sensitive Offers
You're in the freezer section, you weren't planning on adding ice cream to your cart, but then you read this:
[Half Gallon Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream 50% Off TODAY ONLY]
I can already feel your blood pressure rising. The inner dialogue is predictable:
"50% off that's a pretty good deal.
But only for today?
I don't need to today, but I can't come back tomorrow.
I better get two just in case."
The threat of passing up a deal churns our stomach.
Speaking personally, there have been plenty of offers and sales on camera equipment and podcast gear that I would've put off had a TODAY ONLY deal popped up into my inbox.
How to Implement:
When you're building your sales page or crafting your next sales newsletter set a firm timed deadline. You can even go one step further by adding a timer to the landing page for increased pressure.
Here's a great plugin to try: https://elfsight.com/countdown-timer-widget/
Another technique you might find at your grocery store is the use of limited quantity. I was victim to the COVID toilet paper crisis. I ran into the grocery store to find that in an aisle that normally houses 30-40 packages of toilet paper only bared 4 packages.
FOMO kicked in.
I grabbed one of the last remaining packages.
CUT to the following week, I was in that same aisle and saw that the toilet paper aisle was fully stocked.
Was I wrong to act so hastily?
How to Implement:
If you're about to launch a wedding photography sales, or launch a new mastermind group, limited quantity is the one-two punch of scarcity. Limited quantity such as "the first 5 couples that book" or "10 slots left in the mastermind" both create this sense of urgency that if I don't act now then I'll lose my chance forever.
Widely Ignore Proverb: You can't lose what you never had.
Scarcity Gone Wrong
We've discussed discounting in the past here - Don't Discount Your Services
Lowering your price in hopes that someone will buy degrades your business and misses the point of scarcity. Without time-sensitivity or limitation on quantity, a lower price communicates that's the product isn't as valuable as once thought.
The crappy deodorant that is now on sale from $4.00 to $2.75 simply means that is the real cost of the product minus the store's profit margin.
It doesn't compel me to buy - it's a data point.
When you're putting your photography services on sale, you MUST include a time or quantity limitation. Otherwise, your discount is your new low price. Congrats.
Training Your Clients (Whatever Works)
Clients will do whatever they can to get a lower price. You want to charge as much as you can, and they want to pay as little as possible. When you run a sale, you inadvertently encourage bad habits from your clients. You get a bunch of sign-ups when you run a sale, but they drop off when the sale ends.
So what do you do? You run another sale.
And what happens when that sale ends? The same thing.
So you run another sale, and another.
Through conditioning, you have rewarded your clients so much that they'd be out of their mind to buy during normally priced runs. Think every major holiday and Black Friday. You find yourself waiting until that holiday sales week before purchasing.
Creating scarcity is an effective strategy that can convert those on-the-fence clients into happy, paying clients. But use these tactics with caution. When improperly applied, it can erode your brand's standing among your clients, and create a false sense of security for your business.
If you have an upcoming sale and you're unsure how to get started, schedule a coaching call with me. Let's dive in and build a game plan to book those wishy-washy clients.