American entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said: “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value”. This is especially true when applied to the consumer buying process – how many times have you seen an item you liked in a shop or online and decided to wait until payday, or to ‘buy it in a week if I still really want it’?
Add a sense of urgency to the mix and you can increase the value of your consumers’ desire; the thought of not having something can often become a strong motivator to have it. Conveying urgency is a classic sales tool, used by nearly all types and sizes of businesses. It drives customers to make faster purchasing decisions, scooping all those ‘waiting on the fencers’ to make a decision today rather than tomorrow.
Your content needs to create a sense of urgency to persuade your prospect to act now rather than later. Unlike a sales person you can’t haggle or bargain with a customer interactively in your content – but you can create the same sense of urgency in these nine ways:
- Create tension. Urgency comes from tension, and you can create this for the reader by giving them a deadline in the form of a limited time only sale, or by indicating scarcity of product – ‘get it before it’s gone’ / ‘only four rooms left’. A countdown clock or timer has become a common marketing tactic, as it ratchets up the pressure: E.g. ‘Offer expires in seven hours, twenty-four minutes’.
- Use the right kind of language. You want to invoke immediacy with your content, and this has to be conveyed by the language you use. Short commands like ‘Now!’ ‘Be quick!’ and warnings like ‘While stocks last’ are effective, but avoid waffle and over-dramatisation. Use positive language which nevertheless invokes a ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) – you don’t want to weigh the reader down with fear, so frame it positively, e.g. “Get 20% off your favourite colour when you buy by midnight tonight”
- Structure your content accordingly. Use short snappy sentences and paragraphs – urgency will be conveyed in the brevity and disruptive flow of the narrative. If possible make sentences even shorter towards the end of your content, as if mimicking a countdown timer: Time. Is. Running. Out!
- Offer a free add-on as an extra incentive. According to writer Kayla Matthews, if you offer free shipping the customer is 4-5 times more likely to make a purchase. If a customer sees that they’re going to get a free consultation or delivery, they will be that much more likely to buy.
- Offer them extra product for the same price. Bundle offers (BOGOF, 3for2 etc.) are popular with customers and businesses alike – customers know they’re getting a great deal, and businesses know that they’re making more of a profit from the offer than if they had offered a similar-looking discount. For example, offering 50% extra free product on a £1, 100g of product offers the same monetary value as a 33% discount on a £1, 100g product (£1 for 150g vs. £6.66 for 100g) – a seemingly more attractive offer if you’re just looking at the overhead percentages and not the actual value per unit/gram. ‘50% extra free’ is a more compelling surface statement than ‘33% off’ and has the same overall value for the manufacturer, so it makes more sense to add bulk to an order than to reduce price.
- Prove it. If you haven’t got a limited-time only offer, why should the customer buy your product now rather than tomorrow? If you’re seeking to persuade a customer to buy sooner rather than later simply for their own benefit in the long run then you need to provide compelling proof that this will work in their favour. For example if you wish to create urgency by telling customers they’ll save £800 on their energy bills next year if they buy solar panels now, back this up with a case study or an interactive calculator. Where this isn’t possible, create a story for the reader based on a hypothetical situation – for example, them in a year’s time: “What could you spend an extra £800 on next Christmas?”
- Use the right colours. Red is the classic sales colour indicator, but all bright colours connote activity and urgency, so make sure you use an appropriately loud and attractive colour scheme for your content.
- Be honest. If you say an offer is limited time only, don’t extend it, nor resurrect the same offer every month. Customers will notice, and take future ‘urgency’ less seriously.
- Don’t be too pushy. Beyond urging consumers not to wait, and perhaps dropping them a reminder email, you mustn’t be pushy as it will just irritate and turn them off the sale. Always market in the readers’ interests and serve their needs – empathy is key here, not hard selling.
Content with a sense of urgency won’t work unless your offer is clear, honest and relevant, so above all, avoid exaggeration and treat the reader with respect.
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