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?

Have you tried it?

I say, bloody right it does.

Last week, while driving to the Isle of Lewis, we passed a sign. It said: SHOP >>>> LAST 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 sighed, and said: “It’s less than an hour to Ullapool. You have enough food for the entire (13 hour) return journey home. YOU DO NOT NEED TO STOP AT THE SHOP.”

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

Stronger, often, than logic.

Which is why I hit the brakes, and… stopped at the shop.

And blatantly stocked up on extra snacks.

Just in case.

Which is to say: this innocuous looking sign CHANGED my behaviour — persuading me to buy 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, flags down your readers and steers them to 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 as 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 ramp up conversions by slapping deadlines on your offers.

“Last chance! This offer expires at noon.”

“Limited time remaining!”

“Today only!”

Whether it’s an email subject line or a web page, there aren’t many situations where a scattering of scarcity won’t increase your open rates, downloads, sign-ups 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.