Scarcity Sells: A Lesson for Home Performance Businesses from Apple.

So fall has arrived, and you've been telling all of your prospective customers to sign up for an energy audit ASAP because you're almost completely booked through the winter, right?

No? Well, whether or not your fall is totally booked, we think that the home performance industry could take a lesson from Apple in this, the busy season for the home performance industry

What lesson? Well, tomorrow, the iPhone 5 goes on sale, and there will be lines around the block at every Apple store in the country. For many people, seeing those lines will make them want the iPhone 5 even more. Knowing that other people want something, and that quantities are limited, convinces people that they should have something too. This is something that the home performance industry most definitely isn't strong in, and something that we think we should work on.

Scarcity Sells.

What does this mean, anyway? It means that when people think that an offer is exclusive, reserved for a limited number of people on a first-come-first-serve basis, or if there's limited supply of a product or service, they're more likely to buy it. It's something that may or may not make sense instinctually, but it holds water in the real world.

This scarcity could be real, or it could be a marketing tactic. Whether it's one or the other may not make a real difference, as we see every time Apple comes out with a new product.

iPhones, iPads, and Apple's Mastering of Marketing.

Every time Apple comes out with a new product -- particularly a new iPhone or iPad -- the new device is available in a limited supply for a limited time. Since everyone wants to be the first one with the new phone, they line up around the block to get the new phone before the first run sells out. 

Of course, Apple is the master of marketing and branding for other reasons, as well, but this is an arrow in their quiver that they use time and time again.

The Lesson:

The differences between Apple and Home Performance are, of course, pretty significant. We don't have a sleek, shiny product (energy efficiency isn't all that sexy). But we do have that "reptilian brain" instinct going for us: people know that winter is coming, and they want to prepare for it.

In most climates, the busy season doesn't last that long for home performance: people want their homes buttoned up before winter, and there's only so much time between now and when the snow flies. Supply is, in fact, scarce, and this scarcity is something that we should all be taking advantage of to drive demand, get people signing up for energy audits, and spreading the word about the benefits of the home performance approach.

So what can you do? First, take a look at all of your marketing channels: 

  • Newsletter
  • Direct mail
  • Social medial
  • Website call-to-action
  • et cetera.

Tailor the messaging that you use on these channels to push the concept that time is limited, and that if people want to be comfortable in their homes this winter, they should call you NOW. A few ideas: 

  • "Schedule an energy audit today to have a more comfortable home before the holidays!"
  • "November is almost booked, have you scheduled your home energy upgrade yet?"
  • "The clock is ticking: schedule an energy audit before the snow flies!"
  • "We have time for 5 more energy audits this fall. Don't miss the boat; schedule yours now!"
  • .. You get the picture.

Thoughts? Let us know what in the comments.

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