So, the trick is to actually mean it — to have it be true. Oprah’s Favorite Things generally offers a number of items from small businesses. Local Popcorn. Soft tee shirts from an unknown designer. Those items sell out minutes after the list goes live. Everyone knows it, and when the list comes out, the call to action is immediate. Those of us who like what she likes waste no time in ordering, and still things are sometimes sold out before we can get to them. Our urge to buy as soon as the list comes out is a call to action based on fear of not getting something. And, if we aren’t sure if we really need or want it, we will buy it anyway because we fear we will regret it and it will be too late. Wonderful selling tactic. The trouble is, it has to be true.
There is a line in marketing between creating a buzz — a sense of urgency — and being authentic, and walking that line is not easy. If you are going to take advantage of the public’s fear that they might miss out on something if they don’t act right away, it’s best to find a way to have others do it. Send a blast saying, “If you liked what you bought, could you forward this e-mail to a friend and tell them you know we won’t have them for long?” Or put up ten products and indicate that one of them sold out last year. Don’t do this with an item that you have left over in large quantities because it didn’t sell. Reserve this promotion for the one that actually did sell the most. It is the only one that will pass the smell-test among your savvy customers.
So sell with an urgent call to action — but stay within the boundaries set by those moral fibers that are threaded through us all. Your customers will be able to tell if you don’t.