You run an ad for your business anticipating generating a vast number of leads. The results are disappointing. You review your ad and feel it’s got everything your customer is looking for, but for some reason it’s not working.
That’s exactly what BOSE discovered when they introduced a new wave sound system. So they approached Dr. Robert Cialdini to review their ad and give them advice. He agreed that the ad contained everything that a customer would want to know, but he suggested one change, the headline. Instead of announcing new, he suggested, “Hear what you’ve been missing.” The result? A 45% increase in leads generated.
Curious why that works? I am. He indicated it drew on Principle #2 of his persuasion principles, scarcity, or "if I can’t have it I want it. "
How many of you are old enough to remember new Coke? On the 99th Anniversary of the origin of Coke the makers decided to change the formula after having discovered in a blind taste test that customers preferred a sweeter version. So they announced it and guess what happened? There was an immediate uproar from Coke drinkers. They wanted what they couldn’t have!
Three elements Dr. Cialdini offered regarding the principle of scarcity:
- Differentiate: Make sure to tell your customers what they can’t get if they don’t move in your direction. Give them substantial evidence of what you in combination with your product or service are only able to provide.
- Advantages: When you describe your advantages, and this is key, it’s not enough to tell them what they can gain, it’s more important to let them know what they can’t get. Loss is the ultimate form of scarcity. Loss language is more powerful.
- Exclusivity of Information: Information is like bread, every day of delay is a day of decay. If you have information that no one else has move on it immediately. As Dr. Cialdini explains this is another one of those moments that you are entitled to. If you, your firm, your product or service is exclusive you want to make that known and take advantage of the opportunity it presents.
He asked his sales staff to approach one third of his customers each with three different offers, first their standard offer, second an offer that indicated there was likely to be weather that would cause a shortage of beef, and finally the same information on the weather issue with the exception that due to their connections in the Australian beef market they had this information exclusively.
The response to the standard message to customers was an average order of 10 carloads of beef. On the second offer the carloads increased to 24 carloads. But on the final offer, the one that indicated they knew something the market didn’t know, the response was 61 car loads of beef per customer.
The ironic thing about this was the student [owner of the company], noted that the information they offered was true. They had cultivated contacts in Australia so they would get exclusive information before the market would, but until that time they had never been aware of the power of using it.
How powerful is it to include what someone will lose versus what they will gain? A Los Angeles energy audit offered half of the customers who underwent the same audit two different offers.
To one group they indicated by doing the energy enhancements they would save 75 cents a day. To the other group they indicated that if they failed to make these efforts they would lose 75 cents a day. Based on the scarcity principle can you guess which offer got a greater response? The second offer of losing 75 cents a day got a whopping 150% better response.
By the way BOSE ran another ad after the one that asked, “Hear What You’ve Been Missing!” using another one of Dr Cialdini's persuasion principles that got a 60% increase in leads. We’ll discuss that principle in an upcoming blog.