My hometown “Paradise by the Sea” of Delray Beach, Florida is not only blessed with miles of gorgeous sandy beaches… lined with dozens of casual, eclectic, and gourmet restaurants… and overflowing with hip clubs and art galleries…

It’s also home to a huge number of… drum roll, please.

Mango trees.

I mean, really. It’s almost ridiculous!

The trees rise to the sky on practically every street — in front yards, vacant lots, village parks, and any number of other accessible, public spaces.

Hundreds upon hundreds of mangos hang off every tree. Branches bend down from the weight, putting the succulent fruit within the grasp of any man, woman, or child who cares to enjoy it.

And it was on one of my morning runs last week that I realized there was something terribly wrong with this picture!

All this wonderful fruit right there for the taking, but none of it had been picked! I examined no less than seven trees, and couldn’t find a single stem missing its mango.

Why? Why, for example, hadn’t I taken one myself?

The answer, of course, was simple. It’s the same reason folks don’t take the coconuts that are falling off trees all over town.

And the same reason why I never went to the top of the Empire State Building when I worked in New York City… and walked past it every day.

Because I could do it whenever I wanted!

And that’s why Delray Beach’s overloaded mango trees are an ideal illustration of two closely related marketing principles…

Urgency and Scarcity

In marketing terms, urgency means that the supply of a product is limited by time.

Ever get involved in an eBay auction when the clock was running out? How about getting up at 5:00 a.m. to be one of the first customers in line for a day-after-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” sale? If so, you know the power of urgency.

Scarcity means that the supply of a product is limited by quantity.

Both urgency and scarcity arouse the human desire to want that which we can’t have.

Right now in Delray Beach, we have an unlimited supply of mangos, and they’re going to be around for a long time. So there’s no scarcity… no urgency. As a result, you literally can’t give them away.

If you’re not tickling your prospects’ emotional impulses to buy NOW, I’m willing to bet your products are suffering from a similar fate.

When you apply the principles of scarcity and urgency to bring your marketing alive, your sales can increase dramatically. I’ve seen it many times — and I’m talking about increases of 100 percent to 1,000 percent. In fact, this is probably the simplest, cheapest way to multiply your revenues instantly.

Our colleague, “Product Launch” guru Jeff Walker, knows all about it. He’s brought in, and helped others bring in, more than $53 million in the past five years in all kinds of markets. Virtually all of Jeff’s success is built around the mastery of scarcity and urgency.

According to Jeff, “Scarcity is probably the single biggest mental trigger there is. No matter how many times I’ve seen it used, it’s always breathtaking to see how it moves people to action. I’ve seen WAY too many people underestimate the power of adding a scarcity component to their marketing. If you fall into that trap, you will be leaving a huge amount of money on the table.”

So how can you pick up all that cash you’ve been leaving on the table?

There are plenty of ways, even if you are selling a product that is in infinite supply — an e-book, for example:

  • Urgency: Add a bonus for a limited length of time.
  • Urgency: Reduce the price for a special holiday sale.
  • Scarcity: Add a bonus — but only for the first 150 buyers.
  • Scarcity plus Urgency: With this “launch and retreat” approach, you sell a specific quantity of the product during a specific period of time, and then take it off the market. (“This Memorial Day weekend only, I’m offering just 100 of these information-packed e-books. Sale ends Midnight Monday or when the 100 are gone — whichever comes first.”)

Taking your product “off the market” at a specified date and time might sound scary. What if a bunch of prospects show up at your website the following week looking to buy what you just stopped selling? Wouldn’t you be kicking yourself over that lost opportunity?

Perhaps. But I can pretty much guarantee one thing. The overwhelming number of sales you’ll make during a scarcity/urgency campaign will make the number you might lose utterly insignificant. In addition, when you “re-open” your next campaign, you’ll already have a certain amount of “pent-up” customer demand providing fuel for your fire.

One Important Caveat to Keep in Mind…

You want to add scarcity and urgency to your marketing, but you want it to be genuine.

As Michael Masterson told me, “There has to be a legitimate reason for the scarcity. If you’re faking it, customers will see through it and it loses its power.”

He suggested a few ways to “make it real” for them: Explain that you had only 100 of the special reports printed up. (Why not show the actual invoice?) Or that the fire code limits the conference room to 75 people. (Why not take a photo of the actual sign in the room?) If you’re selling personal coaching services, explain that you have only so much time. If you’re selling an investment advisory service, explain that if too many people get the same recommendation, they can initiate a buying frenzy that artificially pushes up the price.

I’m just touching the surface here — but you get the idea.

P.S. By the way, right now I’m about 45 minutes south of Delray Beach at the Turnberry Isle Resort for Early to Rise’s 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference. I no longer work for ETR. But they drafted me for this event as an expert presenter, as well as a “roving reporter” telling ETR readers about the goings on in daily dispatches.

And strategies like using scarcity and urgency in your marketing efforts are coming fast and furious. ETR has brought together the top experts working in Internet marketing today and let them loose. Conference attendees have come with nothing — no business or marketing experience, no technical expertise… and they’ll be walking out just two days from now with a fully functioning Internet business — website, products, and all.

If you couldn’t make it the live event — you can still take advantage. We’re filming the whole thing and making it available on DVD at just 10 percent of the cost of the conference. You can get all the details here.

Charlie Byrne

Charlie Byrne is a former Senior Copywriter and Editorial Director for Early to Rise. Charlie spent the earlier part of his business career as a systems analyst, project manager and consultant in New York City for Fortune 100 companies including Philip Morris, Digital Equipment, and Citicorp as well as New York University and Columbia University. He then spent over ten years at Reuters Ltd and Interealty Corp designing and implementing financial, real estate and news information services. In 2003, he joined Early to Rise as a senior editor and copywriter. Since then he has helped publish over 1000 editions of ETR, resulting in gross revenues of well over $25 million. He has also produced dozens of winning sales letters and promotions, including two that brought in over $200,000 in under 24 hours, another two that have grossed over $1 million each, and a single sales letter that sold 25 units of a $10,000 product.