Prevent Procrastination With Positive Pressure

My wife and I recently bought a house.

It's currently being built and moving day is slated for December. So we decided to buy some furniture in order to fill some of the "extra space." (Our new home is double the size of our current one.)

Now, something really interesting happened.

The story is a little long, and almost unbelievable, but let me cut to the heart of the matter. (I'll tell you the whole story some other time. You'll cringe!)

After shopping around a few stores, we came across a big chain department store that carried what we were looking for - a bed, a couch, a dinner table and chairs, all at reasonable prices.

(In fact, they were all on special. Hey, call me stingy.)

We walked in, spoke to a salesperson and asked if they had a layaway plan that extended beyond their normal wait (i.e., since we were in August, we're talking several months). Not that we needed it, but a layaway plan could help us temporarily store the furniture until we move into our new home.

And once we asked him about the layaway plan, he used the "good cop, bad cop" routine on us, a common sales tactic I'm all too familiar with.

"Let me check with my manager," he said. He left, spoke with someone in the electronics department who obviously didn't look like a "manager." And five minutes later, he returned. "Sure," he added, "but only if you buy today."

I used to be a salesperson. (I still am.) And I use urgency tactics in my copy all the time. But I hate pressure tactics when they are glaringly obvious.

We didn't care so much for the layaway plan as we did the special. So, realizing the salesperson's tactics, I looked at my wife, gave her a nonverbal cue, she nodded and we decided to leave in order to "think about it."

The salesperson made a valiant effort to get our money that day. But knowing he was deceitful, the pressure he used only pushed us away even more.

Needless to say, we never asked to see "Gerry" again. And we made several trips to the store, where each visit had its own remarkable story. If you only knew what we went through, you'll understand what I mean by "remarkable."

However, we finally did get our furniture after we met "Jim."

Jim was truly the epitome of great customer service.

He truly empathized with us. He was apologetic, never once mentioned anything about him or his product (the conversation was entirely focused on us), and even even asked us to pull out our floor plans so we can correctly measure the space and appropriate layout for the furniture.

He then extended the layaway without any so-called manager's approval, gave us free furniture shampoo, free polish, free installation and free delivery - all as a gesture of appreciation, according to Jim.

"Mr. Fortin, look at it as our way of saying 'thank you' for giving us a second chance... Other people would have never returned like you did. I'll extend your layaway without question since you're kind enough to give us that chance."

Thank you indeed.

The lesson? This situation says a lot about how to write good copy. Being empathetic, being concerned and, above all, being interested in the prospect.

But the greatest lesson, that I want to pull from this, is this:

When writing copy, use scarcity and add a sense of urgency. As Jim Rohn once said, "Without a sense of urgency, desire loses it value." But NEVER use underhanded tactics, and NEVER make it so blatantly obvious.

(For instance, how many times have you come across a salesletter where the offer had a deadline, which seemed to "magically" bump ahead each time you visited the website? That's what I mean. People are not stupid!)

Here's the lesson: never pressure people to PUSH them into purchasing...

Instead, use pressure to PREVENT them from procrastinating.

There is a fundamental difference between the two.

Of course, you can and should use pressure tactics in your copy. But not to pressure the prospect into buying but to prevent her from procrastinating, which is a typical, "knee-jerk" reaction to any offer... Money means security to most people, and they don't want to part with their security.

When you use pressure and scarcity tactics, be truthful. Make your offer quantity-bound or time-limited. Not your product or service. The offer. And always - always! - back it up with a real, genuine and logical explanation.

People are becoming more and more educated. So using obvious and deceitful tactics, such as a script that modifies the date, or a quantity that seems to remain the same for ages, is going to work against you. Hard.

Each time you use pressure in your copy, always back it up with a logical explanation as to why you're doing so. Tell your reader why you are limiting the offer. And don't just be genuine and truthful, but also be unique. Place a limit on your offer using a tactic that's not duplicated all over the Internet.

For example, say you add a bonus from a third party. You can explain that the bonus comes from another source and you only secured permission for a certain quantity. Or put a deadline on your offer - a real date! - and explain why. Then change the offer once that date has arrived.

Procrastination is the biggest killer of sales - particularly online where the chances of a prospect staying or returning to a website (in order to think about buying), in today's click-happy world, are scarce.

Takeaway selling is in fact based on the concept of supply and demand.

As the saying goes, "People don't know how much they want something until it's about to be taken away from them." Look at it this way: if you give a chance for your prospects to procrastinate, they will. Guaranteed.

So, add a deadline or some kind of constraint, since such limitations implore at some unconscious level, "You better read this and take action now!"

But always make sure to back up your limitation with an logical reason in order not to appear misleading or disingenuous. That's the REAL key. (In fact, what will push them will not be the limitation in itself but its justification.)

Adding a deadline or a cap on the number of new clients, or even making the offer something that's secretive, exclusive or otherwise unavailable to the general public, can arouse stronger motives in the psyche of your readers.

But give your added sense of urgency some level of credibility. For example:

  • "We were overshipped on these cassette tapes and, in order to clear out inventory, we are discounting them by [X] dollars... However, we only have 541 left in stock, so please act soon."
  • "One of the bonuses includes [X] hours of individualized coaching worth $[X]. But there are only so many hours in the day... So I must limit the number of coaching students to 50. Therefore, I urge you to act now."
  • Or, "During our recent move we slightly damaged 178 pieces of our stock - while the damage is hidden and insignificant, I can't sell them as new and must let them go at a one-of-a-kind discount."

It's all about customer service. Because, if you use pressure to prevent prospects from procrastinating, they will thank you for it. You reduce buyer's remorse, get less refunds and returns, and increase repeat sales.

Plus, they will believe more in you and your product, they will feel happy with their purchase and they will even use the logical explanations you gave them to justify THEIR own decisions to buy.

As you know, customers like to buy. They don't like to be sold.

Remember, people buy on emotion first and then justify their decisions with logic. If you give them logical explanations, many will in fact use your suggestions as a way to back up their purchasing decisions.

As Brian Tracy once noted:

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

About the Author

Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter, author, speaker and consultant. His specialty are long copy sales letters and websites. Watch him rewrite copy on video each month, and get tips and tested conversion strategies proven to boost response in his membership site at today.

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