Science of Persuasion 

Last week we uncovered the first secret to why people say “yes,” reciprocity, and how we can apply that to help grow our photography business.

This week we are discussing the 2nd Secret: Scarcity.

Simply put, the scarcity principle states that opportunities or products seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited. In other words, when we see that there is only a limited quantity available, the value of that specific item is greatly increased.

Real Life Case Study

One of the examples Cialdini uses in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, comes from an experiment by the owner of a beef-importing company.  Having heard about the principle of scarcity, he decided to test it out on his sales team.

The company’s customers – buyers for supermarkets or other retail food outlets – were phoned as usual by a salesperson and asked for a purchase in one of three ways.  One set of customers heard a standard sales presentation before being asked for their orders.  Another set of customers heard the standard sales presentation plus information that the supply of imported beef was likely to be scarce in the upcoming months.

A third group received the standard sales presentation and the information about the scarce supply of beef, too; however, they also learned that the scarce-supply news was not generally available information – it had come, they were told, from certain exclusive contacts the company had. Thus, the customer who received this last sales presentation learned that not only was the availability of the product limited, so also was the news concerning it- the scarcity doubly whammy.

The results were outstanding.  And it was soon apparent to the business owner that he was going to need to order more beef to keep up with the huge influx of new orders.

Writes Cialdini, “Compared to the customers who got only the standard sales appeal, those who were also told about the future scarcity of beef bought more than twice as much.  But the real boost in sales occurred among the customers who heard of the impending scarcity via “exclusive” information.  They purchased SIX TIMES the amount than the customers who received only the standard sales pitch did. Apparently the fact that the news carrying the scarcity of information was itself scarce made it especially persuasive.”

Talk about taking it up a notch.  When I read that I was blown freaking away.  Yes, I had some experience with the scarcity principle but never knew that it could be magnified and applied to that extent.  Talk about powerful information.

What if you could increase the amount of your albums sales by SIX TIMES?  What if could boost your print sales by SIX TIMES?  That would be absolutely incredible. 
How To Apply To Your Photography Business
So how can you take this principle of scarcity and apply it to your business?  Glad you asked, my friend.  Well, first of all, one simple approach is to make it clear to your clients that you are NOT available whenever they want. 
An easy way to do this is to simply state on your website, marketing materials and when you are meeting with clients, that you “only accept a limited number of events.”  I’ve found that this is even more powerful if you can attach a specific number to that.  For example, “Due to the great attention to detail, I can only accept 4 events this month in order to devote the proper amount of time to each one.”
Second, be sure to notify your clients if you of other pending options available to you.  In other words, if you have two different prospective clients that are both interested in having you photograph their event on the same day, then make sure to inform them that other clients are interested in that date.  This idea of scarcity will automatically boost your perceived value and increase their desire to work with you.
For products, the principle of scarcity is certainly a powerful one.  One strategy I have used that has been very effective in generating sales for canvas wraps is to only offer a very limited supply.  Do NOT leave it open-ended.  You want to create a clear picture in their head of a limited, finite supply.  Next, I only offer the product for a few days only, one week at most.   Then as orders come in, I keep updating those who haven’t ordered that the supply is dwindling and that there are only _ left now. This has worked extremely well for me and allowed me to generate product sales a few times each year, resulting in thousands of dollars pretty much out of thin air.
This is how you successfully grow a photography business, by applying these seemingly small, yet powerful principles to different areas of your business.
Next Week
Next Tuesday we will be turning our attention to the principle of Authority.  Trust me, this one is HUGE and you don’t want to miss it.