How to create urgency in copywriting without being pushy?
Copywriters create urgency all the time because it helps them sell. The reason that it works so well is related to cognitive biases. Simply put, the brain is lazy and will only take immediate action only if it has no alternative. Read on to discover why urgency is so important to inspire action and a few techniques that create it naturally.
Table of Contents
How do people prioritize tasks?
To understand what makes urgency so important, it’s best to take a step back and go over the basics of time management.
Eisenhower’s matrix divides virtually all tasks that one encounters into 4 quadrants which are the possible combinations of the questions:
- Is this important?
- Is this urgent?
The important lesson that copywriters should take away is that people take immediate action only when something is urgent.
If it’s not urgent, they put it off indefinitely until they forget about it or are forced to do it. Since you’re not the tax office or any other arm-bending governmental institution, you won’t be forcing anyone to do anything. If people don’t take action now, they will forget about your product. That’s why it’s up to you to try to sneak into their agenda.
Urgency is time-based scarcity
The economic law of supply and demand dictates that ‘prices are determined by the relationship between supply and demand’.
If the demand for iPhones is greater than the ones Apple has in stock, there will be a shortage, and prices will go up as long as people are still looking for an iPhone and willing to pay a premium.
Urgency is a different type of scarcity that limits access to a product or service by limiting the available time, thus lowering the supply. And when supply is limited, people are willing to spend more.
Businesses that leverage urgency
Simple service-based businesses like locksmiths, electricians, and plumbers are masters of leveraging urgency. Most of the time, people call them when they are having an emergency. Their problem needs to be solved immediately, or the world will cease to exist as they know it.
When your toilet is clogged, your heating is not working, or you get locked out of your home, you want a solution NOW! You will gladly pay a premium price just to have your problem removed.
Big food chain brands like Walmart, Lidl, Kaufland, and Carrefour are pros at using discounts, and limited-time offers to spur demand for specific products. Like when products are nearing their expiration date and have a fire sale or when they are part of a weekly promotion. These promotions always succeed in attracting more people than normal.
Software companies that launch a new product sometimes include an early-access deal to increase demand. Early bird deals usually offer something that no one else will ever get after a certain date. This might include permanent access, price discounts, or secondary perks that are unavailable after the early access phase ends.
Creating urgency through copywriting
There is a deeper lesson that you can take home from each of the business examples above to learn how to create urgency. Apart from them, you can check out this list of power words and use the ones related to greed and exclusivity in your copy.
The very first thing you need to figure out is your offer. What are you bringing to the table that is worthy of attention, let alone action.
Your Unique Sales Proposition is a fundamental framework that communicates what’s in it for your clients. Which one of their problems are you solving quickly and painlessly?
A good USP should be able to paint the dream outcome of your clients in a clear and compelling way. Be the plumber they need now, not the librarian they might eventually like to have sometime in the future.
Social proof is a powerful cognitive bias that makes people perceive your service as more valuable. Instead of thinking for themselves, many people revert to heuristics or mental shortcuts like ‘If that restaurant is full, the food is probably good’.
A subsect of social proof is using influencers or brand ambassadors. Another shortcut the brain takes is attributing positive qualities to something just because it is connected to something else they already like. This is known as an association bias.
Check out how this ad uses the football players Messi, Griezmann, Piqué, De Jong & Ter Stegen to make a girl believe vegetables are cool.
FOMO is one of the reasons why social proofing works so well. Fear of missing out is what drives people in the millions towards well-established brands.
When something works well and there is high demand for it, people don’t want to be left out.
In fact, being left out feels like a bigger loss for them than the positive reward from joining in. This is known as a loss aversion bias.
Circling back to urgency, FOMO makes many people take irrational buying decisions.
The last piece of the urgency puzzle is how you promote your service. Black Friday is the ultimate example of a time-sensitive discount offer.
Once a year, people go absolutely nuts and buy all sorts of things they don’t need just because they can. The more they buy, the more they comfort themselves that they are saving money. Meanwhile, they are spending more than they ever would.
Any type of deal, like discounts, promotions, and coupons, acts as a powerful incentive for buyers when they have a deadline. However, nothing is stopping you from running the same promotion over and over while changing its title.
New Year’s 2-for-1 promo becomes Valentine’s Day, then Mother’s Day, then Easter, then Worker’s Day and so on. You sell the same gift, but you change the wrapping each month.
Final Thoughts on urgency in copywriting
Urgency is a well-known concept in all sorts of businesses. It works equally well for software companies as it does for grocery stores. The greater the urgency of a person to solve a problem, the more leverage a business has and the higher the price premium it can charge. By combining positioning, proof, and promotion, copywriters can artificially increase the sense of urgency someone feels and inspire them to take action.