You’ve experienced this feeling before, right? You’d better get in before the good stuff is all taken. You don’t want to miss out!
A common story that shows scarcity being used in real estate transactions goes something like this:
Agent: “So, how do you like this home?”
Customer: “Oh, I really like it. I’m pretty sure it would work for us.”
Agent: “Great! Well, if you’re really interested in this home we should probably get an offer in right away. Properties in this price range are moving quickly and many times have multiple offers. This one will probably go quickly too!”
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A step even further down this path is when calling a client back after a showing and having the same conversation but adding, “I just talked with the listing agent and they think there might another offer coming in. We should get ours in first.”
That one works, but from an integrity point of view, you’d better be sure that there really is an offer coming in. When it’s stretched that far it does start to feel a little fake.
Well, whether you like it or not, this is a strategy that works to get people to make a decision.
In fact, we’re all wired in this same way. We just don’t want to miss out on something good. Maybe it’s a survival mechanism that’s been developed over the centuries and generations so that it is common and expected today. The reality is, even though we recognize it and know it’s a tactic to get us to take action, we still fall prey to this rule of persuasion.
As a marketer, it makes sense to use scarcity as a way to encourage prospects to become customers. They key is to make sure that the scarcity that you present is “real scarcity” vs. “fake scarcity”. There are marketers who cross this line.
Misrepresenting Scarcity in Sales is Dangerous!
The dangerous thing about trying to employ this tactic when it’s not real is that today’s happy buyer might become tomorrow’s mortal enemy if they find out they were duped. No one likes to find out that they were “tricked” into making a purchase faster than they were ready to, especially if they feel that the reason they decided to move forward was a lie.
So when you’re thinking about using the persuasion tactic of scarcity, just take a little extra time and frame the scarcity around things that are true. For instance, maybe you can provide a solid statistic about the number of lots in the subdivision that are available and match the buyer’s criteria. Maybe it’s the number of homes that are comparable and available in the same price range, school district, etc. Maybe it’s a real report or other information coming out that has a serious possibility of kicking interest rates up significantly.
Here’s a link to a good blog post by Michel Fortin, a world-renowned direct response copywriter that gives a good overview as well as 3 specific ways to achieve scarcity in a truthful and legitimate way.
The most important thing is to maintain your credibility by offering substance along with the scarcity.
Here’s a great video clip of Robert Cialdini, author of the best-selling book Influence.
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