How to Create Urgency in Your Call to Action

August 24, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

A small business coach I know recently gave a free webinar as an introduction to her group coaching program.

Her intention was to briefly cover key points covered in her program and answer a few audience questions. The outcome she wanted was 2-3 signups for her class.

Everything seemed to go quite well. Lots of people attended her call, strong participation, and she received rave reviews at the end of the call.

Yet no one signed up for her program. Very disappointing.

Logically, You’d Think People Would Buy

You KNOW people are in pain and you offer a product that will make that pain go away so it’s only logical that they would buy from you to get relief.

We all structure our sales and marketing based on that assumption and it makes perfect sense.

Yet, people don’t buy.

It’s puzzling and maddening.

But it’s not that surprising when you take a closer look at how people actually behave.

Inertia is a Powerful Force

A few years ago I had what I thought was a canker sore. Canker sores are those little sores people get on the insides of their mouths. The sores are painful but they tend to go away on their own in a few days.

What I had didn’t go away. It got worse. In fact it got to the point when nothing made the pain go away. I could barely eat or drink.

Finally, I made an appointment with my dentist…with great reluctance I may add. I was still hoping whatever the problem was, it would go away.

It turned out I had an abscess. A nasty one. I was lucky I saw the dentist when I did because I was close to losing a tooth.

Pain is a funny thing and people can put up with a lot of pain for a long time. Especially when:

  • The pain comes and goes.
  • It’s not clear what the real cost is.
  • The solution isn’t much fun.
  • We’re not sure the solution will actually work.

Take a moment to think of a similar time when you had a small, irritating problem that you let go until you just couldn’t ignore it any longer. How long did you put up with it?

And think of any situations that are currently less than perfect that you’re putting up with?

Inertia is a powerful force and if you’re doing the right things with your sales and marketing, it may be the reason people aren’t clicking “Buy.”

Urgency Cuts Through Inertia but It Can Feel Manipulative!

If you’re a small business owner who wants to make a difference, the idea of “creating a sense of inertia” may feel really gross to you.

We’ve all experienced so many icky, high-pressure sales pitches, right? Those “Buy now, seats are limited!!” or “Offer is good only for the first 25 customers.”

These pitches create a sense of fear and scarcity and hit on some of our most basic human needs. They work too. But often when we buy out of a sense of fear and scarcity we feel secretly disgusted with ourselves for “caving in.”

And when we buy from a place of fear and neediness, the seller has made a sale but the relationship is already starting from a damaged place. It’s easy to feel resentful and annoyed with the seller and the product. They’d better deliver…or else!!

How to Use Urgency Without Manipulation

First, I want you to understand that creating urgency doesn’t have to be gross or icky.

Remember that sometimes part of being in service is waking people up to the fact that they really need to do something about their problem. For example, what if the dentist I talked to said, “Oh, bummer that abscess must hurt. Yeah, you might want to have that taken care of.”

I’m glad the dentist I talked to said, “Wow, it sounds like you have a serious infection that needs to be treated. You need to come in today!”

Keys to creating urgency without manipulation

#1. Begin with Your Desire to Serve Your Customers

If you’re in business to make a positive difference in the world, the best place to start is to remember why you’re doing what you do.

Take a moment and as you remember why you started your business, pay attention to the longing in your heart to improve your customers’ situation. Let yourself feel the sense of your heart feeling pulled and being moved by observing people struggling with the problems you have solutions to.

#2. Link your desire to serve with your offer

Now that you’re aware of why you’re in business, ask yourself how your offer is helping your customers.

For example, a small business coach may answer this question as: “I see so many small business owners completely stressed out and overwhelmed by the details of running their business. They get to the point where they’re so over-scheduled, they’re not enjoying themselves anymore. Even worse, they’re not fully present for their clients and this can have a real, negative effect on their bottom line.”

“I’m running a ‘Spring Cleaning special’ to encourage prospective clients to spend a couple months setting up business systems that will save them time and energy. Time and time again, I notice that when they’re more relaxed, these small business owners enjoy themselves more and are a lot more effective with their customers.”

#3. Remind Customers Why They Need to Act

You don’t need to lay it on thick but DO make it clear why you think it’s important for your customer to take action. Similar to the example of an abscess. It may not be urgent at this very moment but don’t do anything and the consequences could quickly get nasty and expensive.

#4. Add a Time-based Incentive to Take Action

Last but NOT least you want to have a time-based incentive. Examples of time-based incentives are:

  • An early bird price which provides a substantial discount if someone buys before a specified date.
  • A special bonus which is only available to the first 100 buyers
  • You have a limited number of seats and when they’re gone they’re gone
  • You are taking the product or service off the market

The key to keep these from being manipulative is first and foremost that the limitation is true. You’re not “manipulating the market.”

The other key is remembering why you’re creating this urgency. You want to help people. Very often your prospective customer is sitting on the fence. They’ve already decided they want to buy from you, they just need some gentle help to get off the fence.

Time-based urgency provides that gentle nudge.

Judy Murdoch of Highly Contagious Marketing helps small business owners create profitable information products that make a positive difference.

Want to get your prospect’s attention the minute you introduce yourself? Get our workbook, Where Does It Hurt? How to Position Yourself as a Solutions Hero to Your Prospects. You can get your free copy now at

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