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Humans wait to take action. We wait until there is something big enough to motivate us to take action. This is the case for lots of things in life, not just when we purchase things. It’s why we often hear of people having their ‘aha moments’ or building great things out of tragedy — because people need a reason to take action.
When my dad passed away, it was the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life, but it was also a slap in the face to wake up and start doing what makes me happy. I had entrepreneurial ideas, I thought about starting my own business, and I had this desire to be my own boss way before my dad passed away. But him dying was the thing that catapulted me from just thinking about it, to actually doing something to taking action and start my business.
Health is another common example, you’ll hear people who eat like crap or never exercise or who are stressed to the max, and then their doctor tells them some really bad news — like they’re on track to have a heart attack before they’re 50 or they’re pre diabetic — and then all of a sudden, their entire world wakes up. They completely reevaluate everything in their life and take immediate action to change. It’s not that they didn’t know that they were eating like crap before, or they should exercise or that working till midnight every night wasn’t a good idea; they knew all of this, but they needed something big to motivate them to change.
The same principle applies to selling and buying services and products. Your customers and clients need a reason to buy now. Before we dive into the strategies for creating urgency, let’s first talk about why you shouldn’t feel bad about creating urgency around your services and products. Maybe you’ve avoided creating urgency in your business because you feel icky about it. I know I felt this way when I first started running my business. I felt like it was a form of sleazy selling. But the truth is, is that all types of businesses create urgency to get their customers to buy, and as long as you’re being truthful when you’re doing it, then you’re not harming your customers by giving them an extra push to buy now.
Let’s talk through a few examples so that you can see what I mean when I say every single industry uses tactics to create urgency:
- Every single retail store uses discounts to create urgency — and a lot of those discounts have zero reasoning behind them. You have President’s Day Sales, Black Friday sales, Fourth of July sales — and I guarantee you have purchased something you had been thinking about buying when it went on sale. Retailers don’t feel bad about creating urgency by discounting prices because those prices are going to increase at some point. Whether that offer ends tomorrow or next week or next month, eventually the price is going to increase again, so they are giving you a legitimate reason to buy now.
- Let’s talk about publicly traded companies. Any publicly traded company that sells to other businesses have something called quarterly earnings. At the end of each quarter, if they haven’t hit their sales goals, they’re offering discounted prices to companies. These are huge discounts — like hundreds of thousands of dollars off — if they can get a company who has been thinking about their product to buy or sign a contract by the end of the quarter. So it’s not just retailers and consumer based products, but the business to business industry uses discounts all the time too. especially when they are publicly traded, and have quarterly earnings and sales goals that they have to meet you.
- Another industry that creates urgency all the time are restaurants. My very first real job was as a waitress and I used many different ways to create urgency for limited time specials — like pumpkin pancakes and stuffed french toast to kids, eat free nights, and buy one get one free offers. Another great example of a restaurant that creates urgency is McDonald’s and their seasonal foods: the McRib, the Shamrock Shake. These are all things that people go nuts about, and they go nuts because they’re only available for a limited time, which creates urgency and gets people to buy now.
- Even baby clothing brands create urgency around new launches. They do this on purpose. It’s not because they can’t have more clothes made or they can’t order more inventory, but it’s because when they have these launches, and there’s a limited amount of inventory, it creates scarcity and urgency. Plus these launches keep them top of mind to their customers, which means that they don’t have to hold on to a lot of inventory, which costs them money.
Now that you know that every business uses urgency to get their customer to buy, you can start feeling better about doing it yourself. Remember, if you don’t give humans a reason to take action, then your clients or customers and your services or products are just going to end up like the items on your Amazon wishlist — sitting there, only to be forgotten about a few days or weeks later. Here’s how you can create urgency in your business to get clients and customer to buy now:
Discounting your service or product is probably the best way to get people to take action because everyone is motivated by money in some way, shape, or form. The way to use discounting ethically, is by actually having a deadline for that discount. For services, you could offer a discount on your first month of service if someone signs with you by a specific date. Discounting is one of the easiest ways to create urgency and it’s one of the easiest tactics to implement. One of the tools that I use for my business to create urgency is Deadline Funnel. You can learn more about this tool right here.
Create Limited Time Offers
This means that you are making something available for a limited time, and it’s a great way to entice people who have been sitting on the fence and waiting to buy. A limited time offer can be a product that is only available until a specific date — like the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. It could also be a product that is only available for purchase a few times per year. Some people might call this a launch. For services, you could offer a free guide or checklist for someone who books a call with you by specific date, or you could offer an additional free add-on service if a potential client signs with you by a specific date, or within 10 days of receiving your proposal and contract. Again, limited time offers are really really powerful for enticing people to buy now.
Offer Limited Quantities
When you only make a limited amount of products, or you only have a limited amount of client spots available, that automatically creates scarcity and urgency. This is really easy to do when offering a physical product like baby clothes, but you can also do it with services and digital products. For digital products, you can limit the number of students you work with at a time. This works really well if you’re selling a high priced product, like coaching. You can’t offer individual coaching services to 200 people, but if you’re offering a higher priced product like coaching, maybe you only work with five or 10 or 20 people at a time, this is a limited quantity. There’s limited space to work with you, so that creates scarcity and urgency.
For services, you can only handle so many clients because you are only one person and you only have so much time in the day. You need to make it known when you only have one or two more spots open for new clients. I also really like when service providers announce they’re booking clients for a month or two in advance. For example, we’re currently reworking our branding and our website and the person I’m working with has an announcement at the top of their website, that says ‘Now booking for March 2021.’ I love that because it shows potential clients that you’re in demand and you’re not just twiddling your thumbs waiting for them to book a call or hire you. If they want to work with you, they need to secure their spot today, because you are in high demand.
The Bottom line
Offering discounts, creating limited time offers, and offering limited quantities are the best ways for you to feel good about creating urgency in your business and to get customers or clients to take action. You are not sleazy or salesy using these tactics, you are just understanding how humans work, and that is that they need a reason to take action. Creating urgency is a necessary part of business, and something that all types of businesses do. If you’re not hitting your goals, you probably need to give people a reason to buy or book with you now, and I hope this episode helps you do it!
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