Stupid marketer TricksImpressing potential customers with the urgency of making a decision and buying is a frequently used marketing tactic. Every grocery and general merchandise store in developed countries around the world has time-limited offers. In the USA, they are called “sales”; elsewhere they may have other names.

There’s nothing stupid about that. They are effective in getting people to buy, and they give the customer a true bargain. When we see peaches at 40% off the normal price, we are attracted and buy them.

However, we at IM NewsWatch have seen a perversion of this technique over and over again among sellers of training and software aimed at small online marketers. The seller uses “false scarcity”, claiming that there will be a limited number of copies sold, when in fact, there is no limit on quantity.

This falsehood is carried even further by many sellers, who proclaim on their sales page that not only is there a limit on how many will be sold, but most of that limited number has already been sold. Only a few copies are left.

Several of these sellers use 50 as the maximum to be sold and 37 as the number already sold. Here’s an example we saw today.

Stupid marketer Tricks #8

When we saw this page, we decided to check the actual sales records. What did we find? At the time this banner was displayed to us, there had been no sales of the product, none.

Then we decided to do another piece of research; we looked at the HTML code for these paragraphs on the sales page. Here it is:

<div class=”ne elHeadline elMargin0 elBGStyle0 hsTextShadow0 hsSize37 lh3 mfs_21″ style=”text-align: center; font-size: 30px; color: rgb(255, 0, 0);” data-bold=”inherit” contenteditable=”false”><font color=”#ffffff”><b>37 Taken (13 LEFT)</b></font></div>

<div class=”ne elHeadline elMargin0 elBGStyle0 hsTextShadow0 hsSize37 lh3 mfs_18″ style=”text-align: center; font-size: 22px;” data-bold=”inherit” contenteditable=”false”><font color=”#ffffff”><i>Last Updated: 2 minutes ago</i></font></div>

Notice that the 37 Taken (13 LEFT) is hardcoded into the sales page. There is no counter that keeps track of how many sales have occurred. This page said 37 before the product was ever launched. It will say 37 a year from now.

Notice also that the Last Updated: 2 minutes ago is also hardcoded. There is no program to check how many have been sold and update the information. This 2-minute recent check never took place, neither 2 minutes ago nor any time before that.

The whole process is designed to work on the emotions of the buyer, generating a Fear of Missing Out (“FOMO”). The seller isn’t confident enough in the merits of the product itself to let the sales page’s explanation of what the product can do persuade the potential buyer. (Either that or he just copied someone else’s sale page that had this text.) The added push of false scarcity must be added in order to, he hopes, win additional sales.

As a final piece of research, we googled “37 Taken (13 LEFT)”. Check this link to see how many sales pages use this hardcoded text:

There are 60 sales pages with this exact text, probably many more with slight variations. Ironically, most of these products have been advertised on IM NewsWatch. We are making no judgment about the products themselves. The products may be exactly what they claim, but the sales pages leave something to be desired.

The first time we saw this technique, we were taken in. (It’s been a couple of years ago; maybe we decided to buy; maybe not, but the scarcity looked real the first time we saw it.) But after seeing it over and over, we got wise to it and no longer pay any attention to it.

We hope you won’t be taken in by this stupid marketer trick again.

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