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Newsletter #717: The “Make It Scarce” Issue

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Use scarcity to keep customers desperate for your products.

   1> Get them up early
   2> Keep them watching
   3> Keep them waiting
   4> Check it out: I Met the Walrus

1. Get them up early

Snow's BBQ has become one of the most popular BBQ joints in Texas. It's located in a town of less than 1,500 people, more than an hour from the nearest major city, and regularly sells out all of their meat by noon on Saturday — the one day they're open. Locals are allowed special access, and everyone else gets in line (which generally starts before 8 AM). Not only does Snow's offer a great product, but they've got the scarcity thing down. You could infuse some similar scarcity by offering a once-a-week product or creating a "members-only" version of something you sell.

The Lesson: If your product is great enough and scarce enough that folks have to get up early to get it, people will want it that much more.

Learn More: John Moore's Brand Autopsy post

2. Keep them watching

Woot is an online retailer that sells one price-reduced product a day, until it runs out. We're talking everything from digital cameras to ear muffs — you never know what tomorrow's product will be. Through this strategy, there's a sense of "use it or lose it" about Woot, and people keep coming back (or subscribing) to see what the next product will be for fear of missing out. Try offering a surprise product of the week, or becoming known for frequently adding a design twist to one of your existing products that is available for a limited time.

The Lesson: Keep your customers watching and coming back by mixing up your product line through limited time offers.

Learn More:

3. Keep them waiting

Why would you lock away your product for long periods of time? Well, if you're Disney, it's to get people to buy a whole bunch of movies before they're gone for up to a decade. Using the Disney Vault, Disney creates an artificial rush for people to get their movies before they're unavailable. A restaurant could create similar excitement around a seasonal menu item or a flavor available only on certain days.

The Lesson: Create anticipation by withholding a product and re-releasing it.

4. Check it out: I Met the Walrus

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview. This was in the midst of Lennon's "bed-in" phase, during which John and Yoko were staying in hotel beds in an effort to promote peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it, using the original interview recording as the soundtrack.

See the Video.

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  1. Amber February 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    I crave McDonald’s McMuffins all the time probably because I’m never up early enough to get them!

  2. Patrick Galvin February 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Great idea in posting newsletter content to your blog! I’ve been linking to popular posts on my Buzz Builder blog – – from my Buzz Builder newsletter but I haven’t done the reverse. Now I will. Damn! I’m glad that I read your blog! I really appreciate the quality content that you deliver here regularly.

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