Web Marketing Influence: Scarcity

DiamondsThings that are scarce are perceived as more valuable than things that are plentiful. How can you use this to improve your web marketing and social media?

In the final tenet of Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he examines scarcity.

Like reciprocity, commitment & consistency, social proof, liking and authority before it, scarcity has an undue influence on us due to our desire for shortcuts.

We have been trained that things that are rarer have more value than things that are common. Therefore, to make things appear to have more value, marketers can promote or even fake the scarcity of an object or information.

Like many people, I subscribe to a number of daily deals, like LivingSocial. I know that if I don’t act now, I’ll miss out on 50% off a massage, food  or snow tires. Interestingly, I’ve noticed I’m less compelled to buy a daily deal these days because I know that if I miss this half-off yoga class, there will be another one from a competing studio next week. The deal is still a good one, but the scarcity has been removed.

Scarcity also plays on our fear of loss. In one example from the book, homeowners who were told how much they would lose by not insulating their house bought at a much higher rate than another group that was told how much they would save.

We also hate to lose our freedom; when an object becomes scarce or won’t be available much longer, we don’t want to lose our freedom of choice, so we find the object more desirable. In one study, people who tasted a cookie from a jar with only two cookies found the cookie more delicious than an identical cookie in a nearly full jar.

What I found even more interesting was a sales experiment for a beef company. The first group of customers were given the standard sales pitch. The second group heard the sales pitch plus were told that there would soon be a beef shortage, and not all orders would be filled. The third group heard what the second group heard, but they were also told that this information was secret, and most people didn’t know about the upcoming shortage.

The evidence was clear, as the second group bought more beef than the first group, but the third group bought even more. Scarcity of product combined with a scarcity of information proved an overwhelming sales tool.

So, how can you use scarcity to improve your web marketing and social media activity?

Scarcity works well in all types of marketing and sales, but here are a few ways you can use it yourself:

  • Create a member-only group. Provide these members with information only available to them and sell membership at a premium.
  • Limit seats. Limit the number of seats for your next webinar or seminar.
  • Use early bird discounts. Offer discounts for people who purchase before an upcoming date. Announce this when tickets first go on sale, and then again as the deadline approaches. An alternative approach is to off a certain number of discounted seats and once those are gone, they’re gone for good.
  • Give special offers to a small mailing list. Start by giving people on your internal list a special opportunity to buy early, before you announce it to everyone.

Scarcity is a powerful motivator. Do you have any other ideas on how to use scarcity in your web marketing? If so, please leave a comment below. But please hurry…comments will only be open for one week, then they’ll be closed forever!

The Rich Brooks
One of a Kind

Photo Credit: Kim-bodia

7 Responses to “Web Marketing Influence: Scarcity”

  1. LeighWPhotography

    So I’m going to write my next blog on what you miss out on when you don’t have professional photography of your kids/family as they grow up. Then link it to a limited time special…Thanks for the insight.

  2. Teresa Parker

    It’s interesting to me that in the great wealth and power we have in the U.S. abundance (of peace, contentment, real unconditional love, hope, faith and trust) is in great scarcity. I feel a blog post emerging!

  3. Virtual Experts

    Hi, you have nicely described how we can use scarcity in web marketing. We know that the things, which are rare, have much value.