My son Cole and I were in Austin, Texas a couple of weeks ago for a speaking engagement at 44 Farms. By the way, you should check out https://44farms.com/. They’re amazing.
On the drive, Cole suddenly said, “Hey Dad. Look over there. It’s In-n-Out Burger!”
For folks like Cole and me who live in the southeastern United States, we don’t have access to In-N-Out — which makes them all the more valuable to us. It’s why Cole didn’t say, “Hey Dad. Look over there. It’s McDonald’s!”
This is called scarcity marketing.
Scarcity marketing is the idea of limiting the supply of a product, either through restricting availability to a certain time-frame or decreasing production or access, or all three.
It’s very smart but oddly rarely used.
Let’s take church world as an example. In some ways the idea of scarcity is used because the church is only “open” one day a week. (Now, I get it, the Church isn’t just on Sundays and it’s not reserved for a building.)
But with the Internet, access to sermons and content became, eventually, widely available. When COVID-19 hit, it was the only way to stay connected.
And yet, church attenders suddenly realized they had more options than just the churches in their hometown. They could listen to anyone, anytime, anyplace, around the world. In a post-COVID world, this is still happening. Access to content is unlimited and while that’s a good thing, it is creating challenges, namely in church attendance.
A lot of churches haven’t recovered from their pre-COVID days. “I’ll just watch online,” is an often repeated phrase.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m not arguing for or against online church. I’m simply making the point that easy access to content can make it seem not as valuable. It can feel like McDonalds and not In-N-Out.
All that said, how could a church leverage the idea of scarcity while also wanting to reach as many people as possible?
Well, I have some thoughts.
Too often, the Church has been a content machine, and understandably so. But for a church to engage people in this post-COVID world it needs to realize content isn’t king. Community is.
Recently, the Surgeon General said the fastest growing health epidemic in America is loneliness. Not cancer or heart disease. Loneliness. He compared it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
If I were a church leader, that would bother me. But at the same time, I would see an opportunity. Organizations that solve loneliness for people will win going forward. Loneliness is an epidemic. Belonging is scarce. Therein lies the opportunity.
In church world, the answer to this is often positioned as community groups. And while that’s a good answer, it’s far deeper than that.
It’s creating a sense of belonging. For example, take Harley-Davidson. Anytime people are willing to tattoo your logo on their body — well, let’s just say you’ve created a sense of community and belonging. And that’s exactly what Harley Davidson has done. In their own way, they have provided a cure for loneliness. An example of this is what they continue to do with their H.O.G. community — Harley Owners Group. It’s a brilliant example of scarcity marketing. I go into greater detail about this in my book, Know What You’re FOR, which you can access through the link below.
The competitive advantage Harley Davidson has created is far bigger than just their product. It’s their community — which is limited to H.O.G.
What would this look like in your business, non-profit or organization? How can you leverage scarcity marketing?
Are you McDonald’s or In-N-Out?
PS. Here’s a next step for you and the team regarding this week’s email. Start reading the FOR book and discussing it at your lead team meetings as a way to help guide these discussions.