Issue #011

3 ways to create urgency when pitching

Over the last few weeks, I've been helping a few people overhaul the way they do email marketing. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm planning on doing it again with another group in a few months – probably September-ish.

Recently we've been setting up "LBPS" systems, which are designed to not only onboard and segment new subscribers, but also perfectly pitch them on the right product/service for them within 2-3 weeks.

(I'll be sharing more on these systems here at Create & Sell, but here's a slightly dated article I wrote for Growth Lab on LBPS's:

Anyway, as we've been working on the evergreen pitch component of the system (LBPS), I shared with the group my thoughts around pitching over email.

Here they are:

Want to get someone to buy right now? Here are 3 ways to make that happen.

If you're planning on pitching over email, you need to include some form of urgency if you want that pitch to be effective.

Otherwise, your subscribers will probably think, "this sounds good, but I'm busy / million other things on my plate / X is more important right now / yada yada"

While I don't like aggressive hard sells or duping people into things they don't need, I do think a bit of healthy urgency can be a good thing, especially when accompanied with messaging around why your product should be a priority, and why it's going to be a solid investment for their health, their business, or whatever else.

There are really only 3 tactical ways to package your product that will get someone to take action right away: supply, discounting, or bundling.

(And h/t to Ryan Delk for sharing this list with me years ago at the first BaconBiz conference.)

Tactic #1: Supply

When pitching over email, most creators follow the launch → cooldown/nurture → launch model.

This simply means that they'll have a course or program for sale during a brief period – like a week or so – and if you don't buy it during that time window you won't be able to buy it until some point in the future. (You'll often hear "I'm not sure when I'll offer this again" or "this is the lowest price I'll ever offer this for.")

Before the advent of limitless digital inventory, supply was almost always a problem in the real world: upfront capital spent on manufacturing, the cost of warehousing, etc.

But with digital products, those constraints go away. So the obvious way to create supply urgency is to remove someone's ability to buy.

For some online offerings, like cohort-based courses, supply is also a built-in concern since the quality of the program often ties directly in with how many people are participating. A Zoom call with a few people is a vastly different experience than a group call with hundreds. When I sold the live class I referenced above, I made it clear that there were only 10 seats available.

Supply is a very obvious, and very effective, way to create urgency. 9 out of 10 pitches I get over email make it clear that the thing I want is going away soon. I don't want to be left out, especially if I think I might want to go through said course/program at some point in the future, so I'll often buy.

Supply urgency doesn't work if you always offer your product for sale. If you have an email course that pitches people on a paid product of yours, the only way to make this work would be to make your product unavailable for sale unless someone is pitched on it during a personalized, evergreen promotion. But that's a subject for a future essay.

Tactic #2: Discounting

"Buy before Friday at 11:59pm and save 30%"

We've all seen it – especially around Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

And if you've ever been somewhere touristy, you've undoubtedly observed the signs out-front of souvenir shops hawking "today only! 50% off everything" (funny how I always seem to be on holiday when all the sales are happening 😎)

Discount works. Full stop. Saving money is a huge motivator.

However, if you're too liberal with your discounting strategy, the people on your list will pick up on that. Many will wait for you to offer a discount again before buying, and only the few who aren't that price sensitive / need it now / are too new to notice all your discount-laden emails will buy at full price.

I've been offering discounts from time-to-time on my digital products for about 8 years now.

The concern I always had was that it would "cheapen my brand" and attract the wrong sort of customer. I've been in the hot seat during plenty of masterminds, and have heard the same anti-discounting advice again and again.

While this might be true... it's really hard to create new customer (compared to selling more to an existing customer.)

And a compelling discount might be exactly what someone needs to try out one of your products.

I can think of plenty of examples of people who initially bought during a Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale years ago, and ended up paying me thousands since then by attending my conferences, buying my more premium never-discounted products, and so on.

Would I say discounting has ruined my business?

Nope. If anything, it's helped me turn more skeptics into buyers.

Most of these buyers ended up in a much better position as a result of what I helped them with.

And quite a few of them have come back for more overs the years (and often at full-price, which makes sense since I don't tend to ever discount my more premium products.)

Tactic #3: Bundling

A favorite of anti-discounters is to instead offer a bundle.

Rather than giving 30% off your course if they buy before Friday at 11:59pm, you offer the course plus a few mini-courses / webinar recordings / <something else that seems valuable> for the regular price of the course.

I honestly haven't had a ton of luck with bundling compared to similar launches where I'd offer a discount, but I think a lot of it has to do with not having strong bundling options available.

For example, I've switched up my evergreen pitch sequences at Double Your Freelancing to include things like recordings from past conferences I've run, but – without fail – discounting has always performed better.

Where bundling has worked REALLY, REALLY well has been when I include my time in that bundle.

I once ran a promotion and offered a "flash bonus": buy during the first day, and I'll include a hour long consult call.

Let's just say I'm now at the point in my career where making a little less during a launch is preferable to finding out that Calendly has added 50 hours of scheduled calls to my calendar 😂

Bundling time with a supply constraint is a much better alternative. If I could go back and redo that promotion, I'd probably offer the first 5 buyers an hour of my time. (And, without fail, those 5 buyers are probably the lifers who will promote and support your business for years to come.)