After nearly 20 years in marketing, you tend to believe you already know everything there is to know about scarcity.
So when I ran across The Power of Scarcity: Leveraging Urgency & Demand to Influence Customer Decisions, by Mindy Weinstein, PhD, I had to dive in.
What could she possibly add to the topic to fill up 185 pages?
As it turns out, she has a lot to say. And not just about scarcity. She also delves into urgency, demand, and the psychology of persuasion.
About Dr. Mindy Weinsten
Weinstein is a leading expert in digital marketing and has been named as one of the top women in the industry globally. Founder of the digital marketing firm Market MindShift, she’s trained thousands of professionals from organizations of all sizes, including Facebook, The Weather Channel, and World Fuel Service.
She has a Ph.D. in general psychology with an emphasis in technology, and is a marketing instructor at Grand Canyon University and the University of Denver, as well as a program leader for The Wharton School and Columbia Business School.
What prompted her to write this book? Why scarcity?
Weinstein had coffee one day in 2017 with social psychologist Robert Cialdini. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss an academic topic, but as often happens, they ended up talking about their passions — in this case, persuasion and the way subtle changes in your message can affect its impact.
Weinstein says their conversation led to a three-year deep dive into scarcity.
Her conclusion: “There is so much more to scarcity than simple supply and demand …. In other words, scarcity isn’t straightforward, and using it the wrong way can backfire.”
A Must-Read for Marketers
Like Cialdini’s book on persuasion, The Power of Scarcity is surprisingly deep.
It’s well written, full of stories and examples that keep you engaged from the first page to the last:
- The run on toilet paper when the pandemic set in
- A Tickle Me Elmo shortage in the mid-1990s
- The McDonald’s McRib sandwich
- Starbucks’ holiday drinks
- The Shed at Dulwich
You get the idea.
Weinstein organizes the book so learning feels effortless. Part One is about scarcity itself. You’ll learn why it works, how it affects us, and when it does and doesn’t work. Then in Part Two, you’ll learn how to use it in your own marketing.
I found myself jotting notes in the margin and underlining, well, everything.
For example, you probably already know we find things more desirable when it’s unavailable. But it turns out there has to be interest there first.
Makes sense when you think about it. But how often do we think about scarcity and how it works.
I had takeaways for marketing campaigns, crafting brand messages, creating offers, and even pricing your products:
- How to prime the customer so they react to your scarcity appeal
- 9 techniques for creating legitimate scarcity
- 3 criteria necessary for making people feel the effects of scarcity
- Tips on personal branding, positioning, and more
I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by this book. I was hoping for a few solid takeaways at most.
But I was pleasantly surprised. Weinstein outdid herself, and this book will likely become the one we all quote when talking about scarcity.
For an easy, informative read that will open your eyes to the importance of this tactic, I highly recommend The Power of Scarcity.
As Weinstein says, “Scarcity is one of the most powerful influence tactics in the world, and that power can change the course of a business and propel professional success. Let the words of Winston Churchill stay with you as you consider just how and when you might apply the incredible power of scarcity going forward: ‘Where there is great power, there is great responsibility.’”