Is it ever OK to use fake scarcity?

Yesterday I had some fun shredding a new client's sale page.

Tearing the copy apart, piece by piece, showing him where it worked and where it failed miserably.

(Having your copy critiqued is murder on the ego but it's the fastest way to improve.)

When we got to his offer, here's what I told him:

“You're selling a monthly subscription to a software product. That's basically a continuity product like a magazine or membership site.

“One of the tough things about selling a continuity product like this is there's usually there's no incentive for the customer to act immediately. 

“They can take you up on your free 30 day trial now, or they can ‘wait for later when they have more time.'

“Later never comes, though. So you have to find a way to make them act NOW.”

Well THAT pushed a hot button. My client went off:

“I get what you're saying, but man I HATE that fake scarcity stuff with countdown timers and ‘buy now before this offer goes away forever,' only it never does.”

He's exactly right.

Scarcity and fear of missing out are really powerful selling techniques. But online marketer have a problem, because a lot of what we sell doesn't come with the kind of physical world limitations that old-time marketers would use.

There's no “while supplies last” when it comes to electrons.

So many marketers today take the easy road, and just fake scarcity.

Like putting a countdown timer on your page saying that the deal ends in 59 minutes. Or claiming that the discount expires at midnight when in reality that same coupon code will still work 6 months from now.

You're playing with fire when you do this.

Because when your prospect refreshes your sales page and notices that your countdown timer resets…

Or when they try that discount code after your phony “deadline” and see that it still works…

You've just taught them that you're not 100% trustworthy.

You don't always mean what you say.

Your promises sometimes aren't exactly true.

You're training them to disregard what you say. And don't think they won't remember that next time you make a claim about one of your products. They'll mentally discount everything you say from that point forward.

What's the solution here? Well, you have to be creative.

In my client's case, one option is ditching the traditional “free trial” option that many software companies default to and admitting only a limited number of new subscribers every month.

This allows him to legitimately say, “We're only taking 25 new clients this month. We do this because we 100% guarantee your success, so we work closely with you to make sure the system is set up exactly right in your business.”

It can be hard to get this right, but it's worth it because scarcity works.

Use it whereever and whenever you can.

Just don't fake it.  

P.S. Want me to brutalize your copy and offer like this? 

I offer critiques as a service. They're not exactly cheap, but they're a great way to improve your results if your business can't yet justify spending thousands on a full-bore copywriting project.

Contact me and I'll shoot you the details.