True story: A student attends a strict private school that decides to ban a multitude of books. These books are classics such as The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost, Animal Farm, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and many, many others.
The student – appalled by the administration’s actions – uses her own collection of books to start her own lending library out of an empty school locker. She keeps an inventory log and gives students due dates. Before she started the locker library, she says, “Almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading!
“Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, they go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on” she says. She and the other students are risking getting into trouble to read books, all because the school banned them.
The first marketing lesson here is loud and clear – the scarcer something is, the more people are interested in it and the higher price people are willing to pay. In this case the price paid is having to sneak around and risk getting into trouble, possibly even getting detention or being expelled from school.
The second marketing less is that taboo sells. How many times have you heard about a film only because some group was boycotting it? And what almost always happens? The more the film is protested by some people, the more others want to see it. Heck, if you have a movie that’s failing, get a group to denounce it and your ticket sales will almost certainly increase in direct proportion to the publicity your film’s adversaries are garnering.
And while you might not be able to incorporate the second lesson into your marketing, you can certainly use the first. Decide to sell your products for a limited time or to a limited number of people. When you hit the limit, pull it immediately. Do this each time and your customers will become trained to purchase your products the moment they become available or risk losing out.
Do you have a product that’s not selling well? Announce it will be disappearing forever in 7 days and see what happens. This psychology doesn’t just work on kids, it works on everyone.
One has to wonder if the administrators of that school were shortsighted for banning books, or geniuses for finding a way to get kids to read. It’s certainly a lesson other schools could use – perhaps giving a list of books to students that they “shouldn’t” read, placing those books in a special locked section of the library, and then having the librarian lend the books only on the condition that they tell no one. What a brilliant way to get kids reading. 🙂