I was researching some flights home to New Zealand for a triple birthday celebration, and every flight I shortlisted on the Virgin app had a red sash announcing “only 7 seats left”.

Did it make me want to book quickly? Yes! Was it a coincidence that every flight had “only 7 seats left”? Not on your nelly.

As far back as 1962, New Zealander company founder of Contiki John Anderson arrived in London ready to explore Europe. By himself and without much money, he devised a plan so that he would not have to travel alone and could see Europe for free.  He put a deposit on a minibus, gathered a group of people to travel with – and famously promoted each seat as “only one seat left!” – before leaving with a full bus to explore Europe with his group. At the end of the trip, he unsuccessfully tried to sell the minibus so decided to promote his Europe trip again. And the rest as they say, is history.

Scarcity marketing involves motivating people to buy something by telling them there is a shortage in what is available and a limited time to act. This psychological principle of persuasion coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini means the rarer or more difficult to obtain a product, offer, or piece of content is, the more valuable it becomes. Because we think the product will soon be unavailable to us, we’re more likely to buy it than if there were no impression of scarcity.

Some of the best clients I work with use scarcity tactics to increase the perceived value of their services – is there a place for it in your business?