Takeaway selling, for the uninitiated, is a way to limit the supply of a product or service in some way to increase the scarcity of an offer. Because it’s a proven fact that scarcity sells, it’s the age-old law of supply and demand. The less the supply, the greater the demand, as people don’t know how much they want something until it’s about to be taken away from them.
Jim Rohn once said, “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses value.” Why? Because procrastination is the biggest killer of sales — particularly online, where the chances of a prospect staying on or returning to a website (to think about buying) are scarce in today’s click-happy world.
It’s like walking into a department store and checking out a new shirt you’re interested in. Since there’s none in your size, you ask the sales representative if one is available. The clerk enters the backroom and emerges a few moments later, saying, “I found one in your size, but it’s the only one we have left in stock.”
Now, how much more desirous are you in that shirt?
I’m a firm believer, and I’ve grown even more convinced over time that great copy is not meant to induce action, especially online — it’s meant to prevent procrastination. Why? Because copy should not sell people and pressure them per se. It should help them buy what you sell and prevent them from making a wrong decision.
And procrastination is a decision in itself — a bad decision at that.
Online, people find your site through research and searching for specific information. Or they were propelled to visit your site through some affiliate promotion, ad, or offer made elsewhere. So to a large degree, and unlike the offline world, they’re pre-qualified. They’re interested. They’re in the market. (Granted, not all the time. But again, they are to a great degree — at least to a greater degree than a bunch of people on a direct mail list you do not know of, other than some basic demographic data.)
Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “People don’t like to be sold. But people love to buy.” So scarcity, used properly, helps them buy — and not pressure them to act. Look at it this way: if you give a chance for your prospects to procrastinate, they will. Guaranteed.
So use takeaway selling to stop people from procrastinating rather than getting them to take action now. In other words, shape your offer- not just your product or service- so it is time-sensitive or quantity-bound. More important, give a reasonably logical explanation to justify your time sensitivity, or else your sales tactic will be instantly discredited as it appears disingenuous.
How do you do that?
I’ve always used one of three ways…
In my experience, there 3 types of takeaways you can use:
1) Limiting the time
2) Limiting the quantity
3) Limiting the offer
The first is done by adding a deadline to the offer. A realistic deadline, and not some script that changes every day. For instance, how many times have you come across a sales letter 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!)
This is done very well when the product or price changes after the deadline or is unavailable or temporarily inaccessible. Take Thomas Pierce’s BlogMasterSecrets.com, which is no longer for sale. Well, for now, at least.
The second is limiting the number of units (stock) or openings (clients) available. Again, back it up with a real reason. Something logical. Something justifiable and real. Perhaps it’s a “fire sale” (products discounted because of minimal cosmetic damage, for example) or a way to delete old stock and make way for the new.
Whatever the reason, as long as it’s credible and logical, scarcity can become powerful too. Remember, people buy on emotion first and then justify their decisions with logic. If you give them logical explanations in your copy further down, many will use your suggestions- consciously or unconsciously- to back up their purchasing decisions.
You make excuses for them. You make them feel as if they “own” your reasons for buying now, in other words.
In terms of services, this is done by limiting the number of people for several reasons — such as a service provider who can only take on a certain number of clients because there are so many hours in the day or because it would dilute the value of the service. Etc, etc, etc.
Also, even making the offer secretive, exclusive, or otherwise unavailable to the general public can arouse stronger motives in the psyche of your readers. People are intrinsically curious. And people always love to get some “insider’s edge” over the rest of the world.
Take my friend Ryan Deiss’ Nicheology.com private site, for example. They have an extensive waiting list and only occasionally open their “doors” for a specific number of new members. Once they’ve reached that number, the offer is “closed.”
The third is the offer. And this is done by limiting other elements that are part of the offer, such as the guarantee, the bonuses/premiums, and the price (not a discount, but perhaps an imminent price increase, perhaps to cover the extra costs in dealing with more customers), the packaging (perhaps since the product is bundled with other products or components that won’t be available after “X” amount sold), the extras (perhaps as in free support, free installation or free shipping, etc), and so on.
I like them all, especially when the product is truly limited, such as Frank Kern and Ed Dale’s recent Underachiever Mastery course, which was strictly limited to 700 packages, and the site was taken down once they reached the limit.
(The reason? The course helps people make money with tiny, ultra-targeted niches with little competition. But suppose too many people bought the course. In that case, chances are that the competition in any given niche will grow and thus lessen the potential profitability of people buying and applying the techniques in the course.)
But for convenience and flexibility, I prefer the “fire sale” as well as the third (which is limiting the offer, especially with bonuses and extras). Because often, bonuses can be limited and changed without limiting the sales of the core product or service.
This not only creates more believability (because it reduces the perception of the owner’s “control” over the limitation, which may appear as self-serving or manipulative) but also reduces skepticism as the bonus may actually have been sold elsewhere or is currently being sold elsewhere, and therefore the 3rd party may put a limit on the quantity to distribute.
For example, I did this with Stephen Pierce’s copy I wrote, where Stephen was giving away a software program that complemented the info product he was selling- one sold by someone else on another website at a real price. Stephen secured permission to distribute only a few copies from the 3rd party as a free bonus to his info product, making the offer truly scarce and valuable.
In negotiation skills training, they call this approach the “higher authority” or “third party” gambit, where the limitation is outside the owner’s control — making the takeaway truly a takeaway and not some manipulative ploy.
This is crucial because too many people use takeaway as a tactic, not a reason.
So, add a deadline to your offer, limit the number of products you sell (or the number of new members you allow to join), or shape your entire offer so that one or more elements are limited.
Again, there is a caveat: to make sure that people believe your need to limit the offer, give a reasonable and logical explanation to justify your time sensitivity, or else your tactic will be instantly discredited.
Here are some examples.
If you add a deadline or limit the number of members you accept, you must explain why you’re doing so. But you can also be vague, too. (Although a real, tangible deadline is best.) Here’s an example of what I put on some sales letters I’ve written — they sell memberships to private sites and offer personal consulting to their members:
“To be candid with you, I don’t know how long I’m going to keep the doors open to new members since this information is extremely sensitive and limited. I don’t want to dilute the value of this information for my paid members. If you were a member, wouldn’t you want the same, too? So, I must restrict the number of users for quality control purposes.”
(In the above case, it is very true. The author sells access to a limited number of “hot” real estate opportunities that he finds through his unique system, which he also teaches his members. Suppose too many people join and get their hands on the opportunities or the system. In that case, it will surely lower the value of the information to the member base and contradict the whole purpose of the site, which is to gain access to hot, insider information. Otherwise, why would one join?)
“We’re only human, and there are only so many hours in a day and so many people we can physically attend to! So, in order to limit the number of hours of coaching we do provide, we must put a cap on the number of new members for obvious reasons. We can only guarantee that people who sign up through December 7, 2023 will qualify for membership, completely custom-tailored support and this incredible set of free bonuses worth over $[amount]! ‘You snooze, you lose’. So, join today. I’d hate to put you on a milelong waiting list!”
(This example demonstrates the importance of the support they offer private members and, simultaneously, drives home the idea that such a service is limited. I’m sure the owners can hire part-time help if needed. But nothing can replace the expertise that comes from the straight experts — the more people join, the more individualized coaching they must provide, and the less time they have.)
“If you act by midnight, Friday on December 7, 2023, you will get the 3 bonuses included with your special offer. But keep in mind, however, that these bonuses come from various third parties, including [3rd party name], over which we have no control, and can be removed at any time without notice. I’ve only secured permission to give away [amount] copies of this bonus bundle. So the time to act is now!”
(The above is an example of the 3rd approach, where the offer is limited through a bonus. You can also accomplish this by tailoring your offer or even making a special backend or alternative offer to an accumulated list of non-buyers after seeing the original offer.)
So, add some kind of constraint, such as a time-limited or quantity-bound offer. Such limitations implore at some unconscious level, “You better read this and take action now!” But above all, always back up your limitation with a logical, genuine, and readily justifiable reason not to appear misleading or disingenuous.
The more you make them feel that procrastination is a bad decision, the more people will feel compelled to buy off their volition — and not pressured into buying.
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