Shaking the Customer Tree

Today, I want to share a few words about two “bread-and-butter” direct response marketing tactics that we use for our clients’ promotions almost every week:


You create a sense of urgency by stipulating that subscribers have to respond to an offer before a given deadline, after which you’ll take the offer off the table.

And you create a sense of scarcity by only making available a limited quantity of your product or service, and making that fact crystal clear to your subscribers.

Like I said, these two techniques are old hat for direct response marketers.


Because they’re two of the six principles of persuasion that Robert Cialdini documented in his seminal book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

A lot of marketers have it all wrong, though.

They use these two tactics as a crutch – as a way to shore up sales when demand is weak – which means these tactics get overused, lose their effectiveness, and can even compromise their company’s brand by coming across as desperate.

That said, urgency and scarcity are effective sales tools.

And there’s no doubt: all other things being equal, the campaign or funnel that builds urgency and scarcity, in a way that is effective, is going to perform better and provide a higher return on your marketing investment.

So, where do you draw the line?

Here’s how I see it:

Imagine your email list is a customer tree.

Each time you send an “infotaining” email that raises subscribers’ awareness of your product line, points out how you can meet their needs, and helps them get to know you better, you’re watering that tree and providing it with the nutrition it needs to grow.

Over time, your customer tree will begin to bear fruit.

When you run a special promotion and use urgency and scarcity, you’re now shaking your tree so that the fruit that’s already there can fall into your baskets.

However, if you didn’t do the work beforehand, there won’t be any fruit – and no matter how hard you shake the tree, all that’s going to fall are rotten branches.

So, remember:

Urgency and scarcity are excellent (and proven) tactics for pushing ripe subscribers to act; but they cannot, and will not, create demand for your offering.

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