There is something to be said about scarcity: scarcity of inventory, scarcity of time, etc. when it comes to marketing. In the advertising Bible that is “Influence: Science and Practice“, the Author, Robert Cialdini, outlines that people tend to want things when there are fewer of them available. Rich CEOs want rare cars, we all want powder turns, and if there is only one “In-n-Out” burger in Utah like there was last year, you can be the lines will be massive.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a cyclist. I’m also quite frugal (a tricky combination with road bikes) so I subscribe to Nashbar’s email list. Nashbar is always running a promotion. After I balked while shopping for new pedals a couple years ago, I justified it that they would probably be on sale within a few weeks anyways. Six days later, there they were, 25% off. One of Nashbar’s favorite promotions begins with an email subject line that screams scarcity, “72 Deals At Least 72% Off For 72 Hours”. A specific, small number of items on sale for a specific and short amount of time. Scarcity squared. They’ll do a variation of this sale about 5-6 times a year.
Today, Whistler started a promotion that began with a similar email, “Whistler Blackcomb 72hr Sale – Amazing lodging deals.” Now, Whistler’s email may not cry scarcity quite as loudly as the other but you can see what they were doing. Give a big, fat discount for a limited time. Not bad.
Nashbar v. Whistler
So how do they compare? Whistler does build up a little bit of scarcity with the claim “Book Now, Prime Dates will Go Quickly” at the bottom of the email, but when you set the two side by side, Nashbar, in my book, takes the cake. There is urgency to act, intrigue about which items are on sale, and excitement about how big the deals are. Plus, there is something to be said about being memorable: 72%, 72 hours, 72 items sticks in the brain easier than 72 hours alone.
I’d love to see what would happen if Whistler called their promotion the “Whistler Blackcomb 72 hr Sale – 148 Rooms at up to 48% Off”. Scarcity can be increased by making any other aspect of the offer limited: the time, inventory, locations available, discounts, etc. Nothing wrong with settling for a promotion that has just one factor of limited-ness, but why not test out an offer that adds in a few more dimensions as well.
New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.