Scarcity, urgency, and a sense of accomplishment

Here’s how a great bebopper on the subway was selling his CDs.

“We started today with 100 CDs and we’ve sold 48… we’ve got 52 to go.  They’re only $5 each.  If you stand up and buy one you’ll create a cascade of other buyers!”

Nice.

Let’s parse that pitch:

–          “We started today with 100 CDs and we’ve sold 48:” these things are good and they’re selling fast.  Other people have decided that they’re good already.  You’re joining that crowd when you buy one.

–          “, and we have 52 to go….” we’re getting towards the finish line, and you can help us….

–          “If you stand up and buy one you’ll create a cascade of other buyers!” your actions are bigger than just you.  A lot more is going on here than you giving us $5 and us giving you a CD.

Without a doubt, it’s almost always better to create scarcity, a sense of urgency (a deadline) and a feeling of accomplishment on the part of your buyer (donor).

And no, it doesn’t always have to be “act fast time’s running out” (though that’s usually a good thing…but then again it’s not true each and every time).  But there’s a lot more you can do than describe just the thing that you’re selling and how much you’re selling it for.

Help people understand that you have a limited number of seats (scarcity), where the finish line is how they’re helping you get there (urgency), and how their actions can and will influence others for great impact (sense of accomplishment).  And then take the concrete steps that allow you to keep each of these promises that you’re making.

The poverty box

Today I registered for a conference and had to check a box about my “area of interest,” so I check off “International Development / poverty.”

And then I realized why only 23% of U.S. philanthropy goes to international causes.1 We’re stuck in this box.   The one that has you pick from:  Human rights /  Conflict resolution / Women’s issues / Education /  Healthcare / Infrastructure / Policy reform / Judicial reform / Poverty alleviation (CHECK) / Etc….

The “how” is so much less important than the “why” in making people understand how urgent this is.

The box I want to check says: “I’m in the business of creating a different world, one in which the 7 out of 10 people globally who are struggling for survival can instead become artists and engineers and teachers and entrepreneurs and CEOs and judges and architects and software programmers and Presidents and mothers who don’t worry if their children will survive to age 5.  I’m in the business of realizing the potential of all of the 6.7 billion people on this earth, and not just the 2 billion who were born in the right place at the right time.”

Yeah, that’s the box I want to check.

NOTE 1: the 23% number comes from Jane Wales, and if anyone knows this statistic it’s her.  I honestly thought the number was much lower.  Does anyone have a source for this number?

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook