Influential PR: Scarcity

Welcome to the first of a series of 6 pieces we’re going to do on the topic of influence and how public relations allows you to generate influence among your customers, your colleagues, and the world at large. We’re going to base this series off the work done by ASU Professor Emeritus of Psychology Robert Cialdini, whose book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is required reading for many marketers. In his book, Cialdini posits that there are 6 methods or principles on which influence is based:

  1. Scarcity
  2. Authority
  3. Consistency
  4. Social Proof
  5. Liking
  6. Reciprocity

Today, we’ll tackle the first of these, scarcity. Creating a perception of scarcity is a time-honored tactic, from sales professionals offering “limited time offers” to news about shortages of supplies, products, or services. Scarcity also makes for a reasonably fool-proof story in the news: when something is suddenly scarce, it’s news, and usually of great interest to various media outlets.

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For example, any time there’s an impending major storm, the bread and milk aisles empty out at local stores.

Scarcity can be created. There are companies who make limited time products as an integral part of their marketing mix, such as SHIFT client McDonald’s, with their McRib sandwich, which has such a loyal following that there are McDonald’s customers who will map out which franchise locations are currently offering the McRib and then drive exorbitant distances to get one.

Ask yourself this question as you put together your public relations pitches: is there a scarcity angle? Remember, too, that you can make an effective story going against scarcity. For example, if you were a bread manufacturer with great agility in your manufacturing process, you could make a story out of the fact that in advance of a storm, your bread would be guaranteed to be on shelves.

Next time, we’ll tackle authority.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on February 27, 2013 in Influence, Public Relations

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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