shop sign to demonstrate scarcity in copywriting

Copywriting and scarcity: How to be the last shop on the journey

Tamsin Henderson Copywriting, Uncategorised

shop sign to demonstrate scarcity in copywriting

They say scarcity in copywriting heightens the appeal of what you’re selling.

What do you think?

I say, bloody right it does.

You can’t beat a bit of Fear Of Missing Out to scare the lizard brain into action.

Last week, driving to the Isle of Lewis, we passed a sign saying: LAST SHOP BEFORE ULLAPOOL.

My lizard brain hissed: “If you do not stop at this shop — THE LAST SHOP BEFORE ULLAPOOL — you and your family are going to die a slow and painful death – probably from dehydration and malnutrition”.

My rational brain heaved a weary sigh, and said: “It’s less than an hour to Ullapool. You have enough crisps and cranberry juice for the 13 hour return journey.”

But… as any armchair neuroscientist will tell you, a lizard brain’s game is strong.

Stronger, often, than logic.

Which is why I reversed the car, and stocked up on extra snacks.

Just in case.

Which is to say: this innocuous looking sign actually CHANGED my behaviour — and got my buying stuff I didn’t need.

All in the space of four tiny words.

Hello, copywriting!

And congratulations, Contin Stores! Your clever sign suckered me in and spat me right out again.

Power of scarcity, right?

The digital version of scarcity also ups your roadside appeal, flagging down your readers and steering them toward action.

So you might use words like “instant”, “hurry” and “last” in your copy — to snatch their attention.

And you might cap quantities of whatever you’re selling.

“Only 10 deals left, grab yours while stocks last!”

Though you don’t have to be quite so obvious — if a more subtle approach works better for your audience:

  • Members only
  • Request an invitation
  • Course full. Get notified when a space opens up.

Or, you can get other people to do the work for you…

Ever noticed how companies like ebookers and Ryanair use social proof to create urgency?

“5 people are viewing this flight.”

“There are 2 people looking at this hotel.”

Puts a spring in your step, doesn’t it?

You can also increase conversions by adding deadlines to your offers.

“Last chance! This offer expires at noon.”

“Limited time remaining!”

“Today only!”

Whether it’s an email subject line or a landing page, there are few situations where a sprinkling of scarcity won’t increase your open rates and click throughs.

Because the less the supply? The greater the demand.

The trick is to make what you’re offering a bit like the last-chance saloon.

Or at least the last shop til Ullapool.