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Who's competing for your product?

Think treating prospects like pigs is a bad idea? Maybe it’s time to think again. In at least one way, the porcine way can be the quick way to increase sales.

A little farm husbandry lesson first: Pigs are born in litters of eight to twelve Piglets, who compete fiercely for limited quantities of milk. Each piglet’s growth rate corresponds to how much milk she monopolizes, encouraging survival of the most vigorous offspring. In many cases, a small or weak piglet will waste away, unable to compete with his siblings.

Under these conditions, a piglet born alone has a distinct advantage, right? All the milk you can drink! No competition!

In fact, the opposite is true. A piglet without competition often loses interest in food altogether, and fails to thrive. Without competition, there just doesn’t seem like much point.

Sounds crazy, but people are this way too.

Faced with the potential to “lose out” to competition, human consumers buy more and faster than when supply is ample and competition non-existent. Consider Ebay. If you’ve ever bid on a product and paid too much at the last minute because you only needed a few dollars to win… then you’ve experienced “piggy thinking” firsthand.

Many organizations blatantly and without subtlety utilize this by shouting from the virtual rooftops: “Only 39 units left! Act quickly! Selling out fast!” Some artificially reduce supply to create a competitive buying environment and increase sales prices.

But you don’t have to run an auction or create artificially competitive conditions in order to take advantage of piggy thinking. Best of all, any business can leverage subtle cues to encourage competitive thinking. How can you apply these techniques to your business?

  • Services: Select clients through an “application” process, to emphasize that your expertise is in high demand. Include language like “reserve your spot now” in your call to action.
  • Online Sales: Provide inventory updates on items that are running low, with the message to “reserve yours while supplies last!” Feature other products on your front page as “hot items.”
  • Digital products: Limit distribution to a specific industry and require registration to ensure eligibility. Feature your fastest-selling product on the front page with language such as “our most popular webcast!”
  • Retail sales: Display only a few of each item, and stock extra inventory out of sight. Feature “hot” items prominently. Train employees to tell customers, “Those are selling like hot cakes,” or “I’ve sold ten of those today!” or “Everyone’s asking about that!”

Balance piggy techniques carefully with ease of access, and see where it fits inside your strategic marketing plan. Then come back and tell me how you’ve started treating your prospects like pigs–and how it’s helped you increase sales.