Scare-city and Ur-gency


It has been said that if people see an offering as scarce or are made to feel a sense of urgency, they are more likely to take action. 

My response to this is, “yikes.” 

The reason I say this is not because I am not familiar with these marketing tactics to get clients to act, it is that they are far too often used to trick people in to buying something that is not scarce and not necessary to act urgently on.  

In fact, I have not only seen it happening in front of me, I once was asked to create a false sense of urgency for a client, which I refused to do as I knew it was false. 

I have also seen the damage this kind of approach can take on individuals who can ill-afford losing large amounts of money buying something they don’t really need or want. They were manipulated by someone who knew the classic techniques of creating scarcity which I feel compelled to discuss here as a warning for all. 

The first warning is the limited time offer. Especially if that offer is a matter of minutes or hours. If you are forced to make a decision on the spot and not given any alternative, walk away.

Almost everything can wait a day. 

Next, prices go up, but prices can also come down. 

If it is relayed to you that if you don’t act now, the price will go up in a week, this could be a sign you are being manipulated. Most  products and services don’t have such steep price variances from week-to-week barring major world events like a pandemic or war. 

Similarly, if pressure to act is being placed under the premise that the current discounted price won’t last long, this can be another indication yet sales are indeed possible. 

Next, quantity. If there are only 5 spots, only 1 spot left or only 100 units will be sold in this region, buyer beware. 

Keep in mind certain products are mass produced and supply is usually abundant. Moreover, today, anything virtual or electronic or a recorded video can’t really have limited supply. 

Fear can also be a factor. They might use fear and propose consequences of some form of loss or lost opportunity if you don't go along. If you feel afraid, it is not normal.

Lastly, beware of made-up testimonials from famous or well-known figures.  

A trend that I have come to notice with scams that work, is that the scam artist takes agency with someone well-known, well-respected, or simply at a higher level.  

They might suggest they have an endorsement from this person for the idea, product, or service.  

They might say the celebrity used their product or service when there is no evidence to support this.  

They might say they the senior leader contributed to this endeavor or have worked extensively with the scam artist on the solution. 

They may have even convinced the famous individual to be on their Board without the individual knowing the true reality of the scam.

The scam artist uses the credability of the well-known, well-respected, higher-up person to lend themselves credibility and trust is given without hesitation or question. 

In such cases, validate, validate, validate, and ask simple questions. 

A good question can be an invaluable asset. 

For example, ask for the specific place and time the well-known person used the service or product. 

Ask to speak with the person if they are that connected to the celebrity. 

Ask if it is ok to validate with the senior leader about the assertion being made about the collaborative work that was done. 

Essentially, SaT, Slowdown and Think. 

Remember the adage, it is a good one for good reason; if it is too good to be true, it probably is not true.