(This is one in a serie of articles applying Robert B. Caldini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion on CEOs’ Thought Leadership).
Cialdini’s 2nd Principal Of Persuasion – “Scarcity”
Cialdini drew his final key to successful persuasion from the field of economics – the concept of scarcity. As CEO, you are most familiar with the basic principle of supply and demand. It’s obvious for you to see that when a flood wipes out most of California’s orange crop, you will react, one way or the other, in expectation to the premium pricing of orange, and thus other fruits, in the grocery store.
Yet how to apply the same principle in establishing your thought leadership and create great value for your followers in places where there is a shortage of thought leadership?
- What idea or value that you stand for is rare and valuable in the marketplace?
- What value that you have at your disposal that no-one else or few has it?
Your experience, knowledge, ideas, passion or assets could be hidden gems that either you or the marketplace have previously overlooked. Now is the time to utilize them.
Seeing the influx of trendy European stores, the Canadian department store Hudson’s Bay Company’s CEO Bonnie Brooks turns herself into the passionate advocate of heritage for Canada and thus consolidate one of the Company’s biggest assets – its 350-year history of serving the country, which can’t be easily get ahead. This is the immaterial scarcity.
Material scarcity, can be real or simply by way of implication, can be achieved by either putting a time limitation on it (for example, “this offer will only be available until X”) or a quantity limitation (like Nike often offers “a limited edition – only five hundred ever made!”).
In thought leadership, you could be there first before any one ever to notice that a new tread is at its making (proactive) or be the first to react to a disaster, epidemic, relief drill (reactive).
Proactive – Be the first – see what no one else sees
Some people want to join your cause because what you’re striving for is so unique and you provide a perspective that people would like to be part of – Fiftythree CEO Georg Petschnigg MIX
For the proactive scarcity, Joe Pulizzi advocated about Content Marketing almost 8 years ago and Seth Godin about Permission Marketing as they saw that internet has given general public the power to determine which brands to sell to them and have turn the table of advertising and marketing around. Back then it was a rare standpoint or even unknown concept. But that scarcity of perspective only last for some time and such thought leadership requires constant revision of circumstances and latest development of the field.
Reactive – Be the last – persistent and last till the end
You don’t need to be the first one to fight the fight but you have to be the only one that’s really vocal, extremely committed and incredibly active in tackling one well-known issue.
Bono’s fight for property in Africa, Bill Gates’ fight for melaliea and El Gore for the environment are both good examples of reactive scarcity. Those two problems are not real but their high profile and extensive PR in their campaigns have given them thought leadership in a new area then pop music and IT. Yet these kinds of engagement also requires extreme persistence. If you’ve commit to erase a deep-rooted issue, you can’t just quit because it’s difficult or impossible. If you don’t stay there to turn off the last night, then you’re just throwing a flashy party and you will end up having guests left and said that was a lousy party even thought they’ve been for the free drink and food.
As long as you stick around, the power of human psychology will get people to take great steps in acquiring what they do not need or even want, simply to avoid “missing out” or watching others have it instead. When they fear to miss out the celebration party when you succeed, they will stick around too. The longer you stick around, the more you can take advantage of your long-time engagement, the more a thought leader you are in that area.