In marketing, scarcity can be a pretty powerful motivator to help consumers to take action. If there’s a chance of missing out on something they want, people are more inclined to move more quickly. This means a smaller chance of them “saving it for later” (and then get distracted and never coming back to it).
Not only that, but scarcity can actually make something appear more valuable and desirable. If we can’t have something, it just makes us want it more.
In the case of products, limitations on the amount of stock available is a very simple way of injecting scarcity into an offer. But what about services? How do you create a sense of urgency around your service-based offerings that make people take action sooner rather than later? Well, here are some options for you!
Scarcity Tactic #1: Limited-time discounts
This is probably one of the more common ones you see being used. The idea is that you offer a discount on your services to people who book within a certain time period.
That time period might be set by an action taken by the potential client. Let’s say, for example, that they’ve just joined your email list, or bought an entry-level offering. In the next step of your marketing, you offer them the opportunity to book your services for $XX off, as long as they book within the next so-and-so many days.
You could also set the time period to be the same for everyone, like a sale. For instance, if the holidays are always a slow period for your business, you could incentivise your audience by offering a lower price on your services during this time.
Scarcity Tactic #2: Limited-time bonuses
If you’re not a fan of discounting your services (no tactic is a fit for every brand), than how about adding value instead? Limited-time bonuses work a lot like discounts but instead of lowering the price of your services, you keep them the same and add extras on top.
If a client books within the time period, they get your usual services plus a little something more — for no additional cost. Your bonuses should, of course, be related to your services and be something genuinely helpful for your clients.
By the way, this can be a great way to test new service ideas you might have and get some feedback.
Scarcity Tactic #3: Introductory prices
If you’ve just started your business, or are offering a brand new service, you can offer special pricing to encourage clients to give you an chance and take you up on the offer. It can be nerve-wracking to sell a new service for the first time.
Offering a special, lower price for those first few clients can help to ease some of the pressure. You get to be upfront and honest about the service being new, and the client gets to take advantage of paying less than what your services may end up being worth just a bit further down the line.
The important parts of this are 1) actually telling your audience that you’re offering special introductory prices, and 2) setting a limit. This limit could again be time-based, such as only offering it for the first month. It could also be limited to a number of clients, e.g. the first 8 clients only.
You want to state what that limit is, in order to inject a sense of urgency into the offering. That urgency is really what makes scarcity so powerful. It’s not so much about the money someone can save, but the fact that the chance to save money will go away soon. That they could miss out.
Scarcity Tactic #4: Number of spaces available
Our services might not be something we can “sell out” of, but there’s still a limit to how much of them we can sell in any period of time. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, so many days in a week, month, year and so on. During that time, there’s going to be a ceiling on how many clients we can take on.
Let your audience know about it! If you only have room to take on 6 clients at any one time, announce it in your marketing. You can tell them you have just “2 open spots for new clients”, or that you’re “currently booking for September and have 4 slots available”.
This can especially have an impact if you count down the spots as they are booked up. For instance, you could use your email or social media marketing to update your audience when spots start filling up. This heightens that sense of urgency, and also gives your audience social proof — clearly other people want your offers.
Scarcity Tactic #5: Get results before XX
In the product world, this is something like, “Order by Wednesday to get your order shipped in time for Mother’s Day”. In a very similar way, people can want the results of a service before a certain deadline that they have. Maybe they want to get their accounts in order before tax season, or start the year on the right foot, or they have an event coming up and need to get organised ASAP. If you just remind your audience that they need to take action, it could be all the urgency they need!
For this tactic, you want to put emphasis on that outcome your clients are looking for. Allow their own desires to create a level of urgency. This type of scarcity comes from the point of view of the client, as they’re made aware of the limited time they might have to get the results they’re after.
Scarcity Tactic #6: Limited offering
As business owners, we’re constantly coming up with ideas. Some of them are awesome. Some of them bomb. The only real way to find out which of your ideas are worthwhile is to test them! Offering a new service or a new version of a service with some sort of limit can be a great way to both drum up some renewed interest and test out some of your ideas.
This could be a new offering that you limit to just a few, best-fit clients. Maybe it’s only open and available to book during a couple points of the year. By setting a restriction on when or for who this service is accessible, it can feel extra desirable for the right client.
Of course, always maintain integrity
It should go without saying that you should stay true to your word and keep your promises. If you say you’re only taking on a maximum of 5 clients, than stop taking new clients when you reach that number. If your bonuses are for those who book within the first 48 hours, than after 48 hours those bonuses should go away.
Sometimes people will ask you to bend your rules for them, or let things slide. It might seem harmless, but I truly think you should always remain steadfast to the standards you set for yourself and sticking to your word should be baseline stuff.
So, there you have 6 different ways to add a greater sense of desirability to your services by injecting scarcity. Which of those tactics are right for your brand? I think it’s always important to stick to marketing tactics that suit the kind of brand you are trying to build and match the experience you want to share with your target audience. Hopefully there’s something here that works for you.
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