Two Things You Don’t Know About Scarcity

If you know anything about direct response, you know giving people a reason to act now is crucial for getting the sale.  In the absence of this kind of pressure, my tests consistently show response is usually 1/2 to 1/3rd what it is when you use scarcity right.

What does it mean to use it right?

For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume you know how to create believable scarcity.  I won’t insult you by saying things like “don’t use javascript automated dates”,  or tell people you’ve got a limited time offer when in truth you intend to run it forever.

That’s Scarcity 101.

What I want to talk about today are two components of scarcity most marketers I’ve met–even advanced direct response marketers–just don’t seem to understand (or want to let “out of the bag” if they do!)

This is more like “Scarcity Graduate School”

Not because they’re hard to grasp or difficult to use… in fact when you hear them you’ll go “duh, that makes total sense!”  I call these secrets “Scarcity 501 and Scarcity 502” because it’s only the most advanced marketers I’ve seen use them effectively.


Let me illustrate this with my coaching academy.  Which of the following reasons for scarcity is not only more believable, but more MOTIVATING?:

  • NOTE: We are currently overbooked and in waiting list status until at least the middle of August.  If you are serious about evaluating the program risk-free and want to be sure you don’t miss out on the next enrollment date, please enter your contact details on the priority notifications list!
  • NOTE: Because personal interaction with each student is important to us, our student-teacher ratio is always our first concern.  Therefore, we strictly limit the number of $25 test drives we take each month.  We are currently overbooked and in waiting list status until at least the middle of August.  If you are serious about evaluating the program risk-free and want to be sure you don’t miss out on the next enrollment date, please enter your contact details on the priority notification list!

Adding the two extra sentences to provide the “reason why” the offer is scarce makes all the difference in the world.  Because that reason is “mission driven”, and our mission is clearly in the customer’s best interest.

If I were just a greedy marketer I’d take all the people I could and process them like cattle… but this program is about providing the personal attention you need to succeed!  So we’re hitting TWO hot buttons with one scarcity statement… making the prospect not only believe the reason to act now is legitimate, but making them feel warmhearted about it at the same time.

See what I mean?

Now, this certainly will require some thought to implement effectively in your market.  You begin by asking yourself what your mission really is in the market.  Why do you LOVE your customers?  (NOTE: If you don’t love your customers, then your only option is to find a way to trick them, and this technique won’t work for you.)

Then, once you’ve clearly articulated why you love your customers ask yourself “What bad thing would happen if I sold this opportunity to too many customers… or to two many customers at once?”

For example, if I flooded my coaching academy with too many new people any given month the quality of our live supervision groups (which we offer 7 days a week) would dramatically degrade.

If you sell a money-making e-book, selling your secrets to too many customers at once might denigrate their earning power.  (Some secrets only work when they’re in the hands of just a few people)

If you sell a book on gardening, you might not be able to service all the back end requests for consulting you’re going to get with any degree of quality.  (Note: Growing a business to quickly really will crush you!  Don’t learn this the hard way.)

The question is… why is it actually BETTER for your customer that you have this scarcity policy in place?  It can be a real multiplier when you get this right!


Most marketers have read “Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini.  If you haven’t, drop what you’re doing and get your ass over to to pick it up right now!  It’s perhaps the most scientifically documented treatment of persuasion principles ever published.

But the thing is, these very same marketers never bothered to follow up on his LATER work.

It turns out he figured out another real gem, and here it is:

When you’ve got a believable reason for scarcity, it’s even more effective when people think the information is a “hot opportunity not many people know about” (e.g., the information about the scarcity is, in and of itself, scarce)

We might call this secret “Meta Scarcity” or “Scarcity About Scarcity”

The example he uses is in commodities trading.  Three groups of people interested in buying commodity futures were told three different things about a lower-than-average price available at the time…

  1. The first group was just told “This is a really good price”
  2. The second group was told “There’s been some very bad weather and this will be the last opportunity for you to purchase at this price.  It will go up very significantly in short order”
  3. And the third group was told “There’s been some very bad weather and this will be the last opportunity for you to purchase at this price.  It will go up very significantly in short order…and you’re among only a handful of people who know about this!

As you’d expect, group #2 purchases a lot more than group #1.  But group #3 outshines them all because they believe they are truly “in the know” about this hot opportunity. So they not only better act quickly before the resource runs out, but they better act quickly BEFORE OTHER PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT IT.

It’s kind of like when your waitress give you a hot tip about the only store in town which still has a few “Tickle Me Elmo” dolls left on Christmas eve… you’d run out of the diner to pick one up.  (If you’re a parent that is.  Or, OK, perhaps a moderately disturbed adult.  Like me.)

How do you use Scarcity 502 as a marketer?

It’s actually easier than Scarcity 501.

For example, I could tell you that I’m about to raise the price on my Double Your Productivity or Double Your Money Back service because we’ve just about got all the case studies we need…and it’s necessary to create a larger margin so we can maintain quality and provide supervision to the experienced Master Coaches who’ll be administering the service going forward.  And that I will only honor the current price for the people who got to this page by clicking MY email BEFORE Midnight on Wednesday. (Coming from an affiliate mailing, or via social media, organic search, etc, does NOT count.  You must have clicked THE email from Dr. Glenn Livingston which was specifically about this scarcity topic.  This can be easily verified by our customer service team by checking our auto-responder accounts)

See?  Now you’re in the know!  And if you’ve had any interest in using the service to double your productivity, now would be the time to use it 🙂

How will YOU use Scarcity 501 and Scarcity 502?  I’m looking forward to seeing examples and hearing back from you with test results!

Now go press your deadlines and make some sales, would you?

The Very Good Dr. Glenn 🙂

PS – I’m turning 50 in a few weeks.  Geez, how the heck did that happen?  In celebration I’m going to be launching a Business Coaching Certification with Terry Dean.  We’re collectively compiling all the turnkey systems we’ve developed over the years for credibility, client attraction, profit multiplication, and living the lifestyle you deserve…doing what you love… you marketing junkie you!

You’ll not only get a license to use these systems, but you’ll be able to give your clients access to our educational library too.  (It’s so much easier to coach a business client when you can just point them to education about what you’re recommending they do)  And getting certified with us will allow you to borrow our credibility for your own sales.

Now, none of this will be cheap… but we’ll be taking on a very limited number (probably about 30) of people at a significant founder’s discount for the first class, which will start just after Labor Day.  Watch your email for notifications please!

PPS – I’m dead serious about the Double Your Progress or Double Your Money Back service.  If you want in at these prices, you should order the consultation now.  Because the price IS going up on Thursday morning, and the only people who can get the current rates are those who clicked the link about scarcity from MY list.