Scarcity is a Powerful Influence Tool but Fake Scarcity is Unethical

Filed under: Hypnosis Training

Yesterday I had the awesome pleasure of emailing those of you on our mailing list to tell you about the Mike Mandel’s first DVD training product: Hypnotic Power Inductions: Elegant and Effortless Trance Creation.

We’ve had a solid flow of orders come in since then, which is fantastic. Quick reminder that this DVD and CD set is an incredible training resource where Mike guides you through the fine points of 6 powerful hypnotic inductions. Four of these inductions are originals that Mike developed.  If you are a hypnotist (or learning to become one), this is a great product. If you’re a total beginner, we’ll have more stuff for you in 2013.

The way we promote new products to our list of readers is something I’m proud of.  But not everyone behaves ethically in the world of marketing and I thought it would be useful to explore one of the biggest tricks out there – fake scarcity.

Are You Being Lied To?

Scarcity is a powerful influence tactic.  If you’ve read Robert Cialdini’s fantastic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Amazon link), you probably know that scarcity is one of the main influence tools Cialdini talks about. If you limit the availability of something, it increases buyer activity.

Marketers use this tactic with great effect. The most common example is a sale. 50% off only until midnight! Another common example is to limit the quantity available. Yet another example is to give something special to the first few buyers. Remember all those infomercials for the latest kitchen knives, or whatever? Only for the first 100 buyers, we’ll throw in this uber-special shoe polishing gizmo! Hurry up and call NOW!

Whenever you see the phrase “while supplies last”, that’s use of the scarcity principle to influence you. If you tell your kids that they need to decide what DVD to rent before you leave the store in 5 minutes, that’s scarcity too. And as long as you aren’t bluffing, it really works. So you can see that the scarcity principle can be used, creatively, to motivate people outside of customers.

One thing that I really don’t respect is fake scarcity. The kind of scarcity that isn’t real, and you’re lied to in order to get you to take action. I find it unethical. Infomercials that air at all hours of the day all over the planet can’t really track who calls in the next 15 minutes, so when you see a special bonus offer for the next few buyers, you know it’s a bunch of lies. You can safely call tomorrow and still get the bonus.

Today I got an email from a marketer selling a product. The headline message was, “Order NOW because we’ve only got X copies left”. My suspicion is that this is not true at all. I say this because most information marketers who sell training programs these days use a manufacture-on-demand fulfillment model. Some order inventory and truly have limited copies, but it’s rare. So when you get a message like this from a vendor who can easily produce more product, it’s probably not true.

The manufacture-on-demand model is exactly how we sell Hypnotic Power Inductions. We use a high quality fulfillment company who manufactures each order for us, ships it to our customers, and takes this headache off our hands. There is no inventory to manage. It’s a beautiful way to sell great quality products.

How we use scarcity

With this latest DVD product, we can make as many copies as you order. We’re not going to lie to you and tell you that supplies will run out. And with electronic downloads, obviously there is no manufacturing at all.

So how do we create scarcity? We always introduce our products at a sale price. Every single time. Then, after a few days we raise the price to wherever it will stay. In this case, Hypnotic Power Inductions goes to regular pricing after December 21.

This is the ethical way to use scarcity. I encourage you to think about the kind of scarcity that people throw at you. Most of the time (I say this because I see a LOT of marketing), the scarcity is fake. If someone is willing to outright lie to their customers, what does that say about them?

Another way we use scarcity is to limit class sizes. When Mike Mandel does live hypnosis training, it happens in a small group environment. We don’t rent out an entire hotel ballroom and pack it with a couple hundred people, making it impossible to interact on a personal level. So we have genuine scarcity built into our training business model.

How Can You Use Scarcity

If you run a business, there are ways you can use this technique by offering time-limited sales, or honestly limiting the availability of something when it makes business sense. If you coach people you can limit the number of clients you’ll take on. If you want to influence people outside of a business setting, set up a situation where people have to take action on whatever it is you’re proposing or the opportunity disappears. It does work. But don’t lie to people. People WILL find out and you’ll look bad in the end.

Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!
Chris Thompson

P.S. Pick up a copy of Hypnotic Power Inductions before the price goes up in a few days. All the details are here, along with an introductory video track.

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"I absolutely love the online course. It completely changed my life and consulting career. The information is the best I've ever seen. You guys are incredible at what you do. I love the course so much."

Jason Cyrus