Scarcity is a technique used by marketers to boost sales. It’s not a comprehensive method by itself. All of the other elements of good marketing need to be in place first. It won’t sell your product for you, but it will increase your sales by urging your customers to act now.



There are two types of scarcity used by marketers: limited quantity and limited time. Limited quantity means that there are only a certain number of units for sale, and only a few left. For example, you may offer just five more spots in your new membership site. Once those five are filled, you won’t be taking on any new members. If customers want to join your site, they will know they have to act fast.

An example of time limits would be to offer a discount on your services, but only for the next 48 hours. Once that deadline comes, the deal is off. Again, the customer knows that they need to act fast in order to get the benefits of your products.



There are a few basic guidelines to using scarcity well. One is to actually follow through on your limit. If the deal is only good for this week, stick to only this week. Don’t make exceptions, or else the tactic won’t work as well next time. People will know that it’s a false threat.

Try using scarcity at the end of your sales funnel. Pre-qualify your customers and get them interested before you tell them there are only five left in stock.

When using scarcity, always give a good reason for it. This shows your customers that you’re not being disingenuous or manipulating them. Justifying scarcity is tough when you sell online products such as eBooks, which don’t actually exist physically. However, one idea is to offer your books at a low price as an introduction for readers. Another is to sell your last book before your new book comes out.




Limited quantities and limited time aren’t the only ways to use scarcity. You can give a freebie to the first X number of customers who buy your product. This is called the “early bird” special, and it rewards them for taking action quickly.

Special products could only be made available for list members and social media fans. They get offers that non-members don’t get. This technique uses scarcity to create an exclusive club, and it raises the perceived value of your offerings.

You can also offer a free trial, during which people get a discount for buying. Once the free trial is over, the product goes back up to its regular price.




The idea of scarcity in marketing leads to some justified objections. One is that we’re using fear or stress to force people into buying what they don’t need. But what scarcity really does is to get people off the fence. Procrastination is one of the biggest sales killers.

If you’ve done your marketing well, you’re truly offering products that will solve your customers’ problems. Scarcity is just a little nudge to get them buying. It’s also a good way to offer discounts that make buying the product more value-added for the customer.



  1. Observe how your competitors are using scarcity and make a list of which methods are used most often.
  2. Brainstorm ways in which you can use scarcity in your own business.
  3. Select at least one method of scarcity to use in an upcoming promotion or product release.