Simply put, the principle of scarcity says, "If something is less available, it tends to be more desirable". The reason for its desirability is not necessarily that it is any better of a product, rather the urge to own something that is exclusive or rare drives the desirability of that product.
In Cialdini's book he explains a study done to help prove this point. In the study, individuals were put into two separate rooms. In each room was a jar of cookies. One room had a full jar of cookies and in the other room the jar was nearly empty, containing only two cookies. The participant was given a cookie and was asked to rate it's desirability and its taste.
What the researchers found was that the individuals in the room with only two cookies rated the cookies significantly more desirable than the room where there was an abundance of cookies, however, each room rated the taste relatively the same.
The rule of scarcity is even more influential in the case where the individual can see the product or service becoming scarcer in front of their eyes. In that same cookie study, a separate group of individuals started with a jar with 10 cookies, but as the test was getting under way, a different researcher came into the room, explained he needed some cookies for his experiment, and took 8 of the cookies away only leaving 2. In this case, the individuals rated those cookies as even more desirable than the other two groups.
There are many examples of the scarcity principle at work, from holiday toys no one can find to people bidding on a rare item on ebay. Scientific research clearly shows that the rule of scarcity is highly influential in the decision making process. Now the real question comes in, as marketers and sales professionals, how can we leverage this to our advantage to increase the desirability and thus the sales for our business?
There are many different ways to apply the principle of scarcity to both your inbound marketing and sales. To be honest, there is no right and wrong way to do this, rather the correct way will really depend on your particular product or service, the niche you're in and your target audience.
It may seem silly to limit how many ebook downloads or free consultation giveaways you offer, because after all, they are free and the more you give away the better right? Well yes, the more the better, but if you are always offering them the user may not see them as desirable and thus may not act as fast to claim that offer.
By limiting the number of ebooks, webinar spots or free consultations you're offering, this will ignite a fire under the prospect customer and greatly increase their desire to take advantage of this offer. Additionally, by including a live counter of how many spots are left and a timer of when the offer expires, this will amplify the desire to the point where prospects will not be able to resist.
It is critical and necessary to note that you must stick to the exact cut off being promoted. If you offer 50 downloads, do not give 60 or 70. It's essential that you stick to the original number to preserve credibility and ensure success in future launches.
Once your launch closed, offer an email sign up form for updates on future launches. This will get a list going that you can market to in the future. Additionally, you can tailor a lead nurturing camping for these people to keep interest and educate them on your product or service. Additionally, take some time to review the metrics and make any necessary improvements on your process. Once you have built up a small list and have made any necessary updates, schedule a new launch date and offer the same limited number of spots. At this point, your audience will be "snapping at the bit" for a chance to take advantage of this offer.
This method of marketing offers often snowballs over time to the point where nearly every launch is a sellout. I challenge you to take advantage of this knowledge and implement it on an offer. Start small, your first few launches may not even sell out, however, over time you will be able to build up its desirability and eventually sell out each launch.
If you have additional questions or if you have tried this tactic and have feedback, please leave comments in the section below, we would love to read them.