Don’t Be A Scarcity Snake In 2011

Image of SnakeIf you’re like me, you’re subscribed to numerous email newsletters.  Most of mine are of the sales and marketing flavor from the big “guru” type industry leaders.

No, not because I buy into every continuity program or product but to pull the curtains back on other email marketers’ campaigns.

If you have subscribed to a few you’re also likely to be familiar with their big, fancy product launches that span a week at a time.

Tons of hype.

Lots of bonuses offered.

Plenty of other affiliates jumping on board cleverly advertising the same product.

Inevitably you receive the grand email stating “100 spots available/closing on Thursday” during the product launch. Cool, 100 spots makes sense right?  The creator(s) of the product want to work with a manageable group of people and the scarcity of 100 spots or “ends close of day Thursday” helps create a sense of urgency.

Scarcity, in the case of product or service supply, simply means that there’s a limited amount of resources available to meet demand.  Bottom line, after the 100 spots are filled you’re S.O.L.

But how does it make you feel when the scarcity is disingenuous?

Use Real Scarcity

There’s no denying that scarcity helps generate sales.  It’s also a great way to keep your buying community small so you may focus great customer service to the limited “seats” in your program.  This marketing method is all well and good as long as you keep it real.

When I’m observing a product launch and I see the “closing enrollment on Thursday” email, I expect the product creator to be running an ethical business. To that end, they should stop selling seats after Thursday.  That’s reasonable considering they sent emails reminding me for two days that the clock is ticking and “here’s-your-bonus-if-you-act-now.”

But how many times have you seen:

A) a number like “100″ remain live on a web page without changing or
B) another email go out stating “we’ve opened the doors for one more day…”

The laughable part is when the scarcity snakes hiss out yet another message announcing their program is extended a second day.  Get real. If you’re going to build a sustainable business then keep your word.  Be transparent.  Build your case, state your offer, then follow through and accept what you get.

Have You Seen the Snake?

It’s unlikely you’ve never seen the scarcity snake.  He may even be slithering in your Inbox as we speak.  Do you unsubscribe from these marketers’ lists or do you stay on board unaffected by the feigned scarcity?


Photo: goingslo


14 Responses to Don’t Be A Scarcity Snake In 2011
  1. Sarah Russell
    January 24, 2011 | 11:20 am

    This drives me effing crazy – if you say you’re going to do something (like cut off enrollment or raise prices after a certain point) and don’t follow through, then I don’t trust anything about what you say or do. How can I take the info you’re selling me seriously if you’ve started our relationship with lies?!

    (Sorry for the rant – apparently I’m grouchy ona Monday morning… :) )

    I used to stay on “guru” email lists because everyone says that’s a good way to learn how the “experts” run their email marketing campaigns. But one day I realized, not only am I sick of wading through that many emails, I actually don’t want to learn how to do the things they’re doing with their spammy emails. Just my two cents!

    • Jon
      January 24, 2011 | 6:37 pm

      That makes sense. There’s certainly an argument for and against modeling your campaign after the “experts.”

  2. Geek Face
    January 25, 2011 | 2:47 am

    Damn that scarcity snake I hate it when it rears it’s ugly money grabbing head. When I first started out I fell for it a few times but you begin to learn that’s it’s all a trick or at least for a large number of IMers. I prefer to see a product stand out because it has real value rather than fake scarcity. Don’t even get me started on the tidal wave of upsells, another crappy technique to squeeze more cash out of you.

    Nice post Jon.

    • Jon
      January 25, 2011 | 6:56 pm

      haha “it’s ugly money grabbing head.” A tidal wave of upsells is a drag but I’m certainly not opposed to a single OTO (even when I’m the one being pitched). Thanks for your input!

  3. Marlee
    January 25, 2011 | 7:45 am

    Hey Jon!

    You’re so right! The whole fake scarcity thing is a joke! Not to mention when someone comes back to your site and sees your “counter” hasn’t budged – you totally lose their trust.

    Which, btw – I had the privilege of talking to one of the largest/original gurus of all time who told me they now match IP addresses and use cookies to make sure the counters, etc. change with recurring visits.

    Anyway, real scarcity serves you much better. Especially in terms of selling. Brian Clark of Copyblogger Media uses scarcity really well – because he really means it. When he says prices go up on a certain day or a course closes at a certain time – it does. Get locked out of a course you wanted and the next time the opportunity comes around, you will sign up asap & you will pay more for it.

    You can still benefit from getting guru newsletters – use them as guides for what NOT to do!

    • Jon
      January 25, 2011 | 6:54 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! Hmm, now I’m curious which guru you were talking to :) Brian Clark is the man. Over at Copyblogger they stick to their word. I took his Teaching Sells course and it is great, by-the-way.

  4. Layne
    January 25, 2011 | 4:43 pm

    Hi Jon,
    I do receive a couple of newsletters, but must admit to keeping up with my RSS feeder much better. And yet, I have quite a bit to go through with even that. So it is a matter of timing of when I run through the great written articles in my Google Feeder.

    Nevertheless, I have thought about putting together a newsletter for my website. It would be additional information that is not provided in the day-to-day website article postings. I would like the newsletter to add value to subscribing to my website and not as marketing material. I think we all get enough of that in our USPS mailbox, which is just “junk” to me.

    The marketing tool that I see in a newsletter is that it is something that someone can forward and pass along to someone they know who would enjoy the value in it and decide to subscribe, essentially based on referral.

    That’s my thinking. I would still need to research on what I like, what I would provide as additional value, and what to do a newsletter. Let me know if you have any tips on that.

    Thanks Jon!
    -Layne

    • Jon
      January 25, 2011 | 7:04 pm

      You have a TON of useful tips, insight, and tricks for the executive/administrative assistant which is great. Have you thought about a newsletter that helps EA’s land that great job? Hints, tips, and strategies to help one stand out in different industries during this competitive employment market?

  5. wilson usman
    January 25, 2011 | 8:15 pm

    yup yup, I know exactly what you’re talking about my friend.

    But I think a reason these people use scarcity is because it works man.

    As much as we want to criticize or talk about those tactics, we’re always going to see them do the same thing.

    Gotta realize we are irrational human beings, and in some scientific way we will keep falling these marketers attractive products, and they’ll keep making them.

    I don’t mind if they play their little scarcity deal as long as I get great value for what I pay.

    • Jon
      January 30, 2011 | 7:57 pm

      You’re right, Wilson. Many people still pull these scarcity tricks and get paid doing it. We just have to make a choice to adopt those practices in our own businesses or play it above-board. Thanks for your input.

  6. Bryan Thompson
    January 26, 2011 | 9:59 am

    Jon, great insight into the law of scarcity. True, it is a powerful tool for sales tactics, but is often manipulated to the point of absurdity. Companies like Apple, Nike, and Bloomingdales have built brands around it and have kept their word on what they say for the most part. Companies who don’t stand by what they say lose credibility, and it’s not hard to smell BS a mile away. Thanks for the thought-provoking post today.

    • Jon
      January 30, 2011 | 7:55 pm

      Hi Bryan – Yep, credibility is hard work building and can be stripped away pretty quickly.

  7. Anusha
    January 31, 2011 | 2:00 am

    The snake is scary jon, but it expresses your point on scarcity, As you mentioned scarcity is inverse to sales and it works fine till the value is witnessed.

  8. [...] join newsletters and watch big product launches and absorb untold amounts of [...]

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