The amygdala is pure survival instinct and you can leverage this instinct to get people to take action in your practice and to increase your overall sales in an ethical manner. But in a way that gets people to take the action that they want to take, that, they should take but have not had a reason to take.
Practice Perfect: Actionable business information to take your medical practice to the next level. Now, your host, Nick Dumitru.
Nick: [00:00:32] Welcome back to another episode of Practice Perfect. The podcast for medical professionals doctors and anybody running a professional services business as opposed to a bricks and mortar store. On today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how to get buyers to take action now. One of the hardest things to do in a practice, in any kind of professional services business, is to get buyers to take action. In the absence of a reason to move, people tend to stay still.
Nick: [00:01:01] So we’re going to discuss a very important principle today. On Episode number one, we discussed scarcity and using it to get people to take action. I had several questions about it so we’re going to go deeper into it today and find out what it is and why it works. Before we discuss scarcity, we first have to understand what’s known as the lizard brain or what’s medically termed the amygdala. The term amygdala is a Latin term which comes from the Greek amygdale or almond or tonsil. Sometimes it’s called that because that’s the shape of the brain.
Nick: [00:01:39] I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor here but I will give anybody who is not familiar with it a quick refresher before we move forward. So the amygdala is an almond shaped section of the nervous tissue located in the temporal or side lobe of the brain. It’s really close to the brain stem located deep inside your cranium. There are usually two per person on each side of the brain and they are thought to be part of the limbic system which is responsible for emotions, survival instincts and memory. Now like I said, I’m not a doctor so there is debate around that whether that’s actually the case and if it is actually part of the limbic system. I’m a marketer and, in marketing, what we know about the amygdala is what it does. And the amygdala causes people to take action because it’s a deep rooted survival mechanism of the brain. It’s responsible for perception of emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, as well as controlling aggression. So when people say that they lose it or have lost it, that’s typically what happens. It’s the lower functions of the brain that take over the higher cognitive functions get suppressed and the survival instincts take over and then people quote unquote ‘lose it’. Another function of the amygdala is to store memories for future use. And they store it in emotions. That’s the interesting thing about the amygdala is that it’s not responsible for cognition. It doesn’t think. It only feels. And it does that because we tend to feel before we act. Before we think. And that’s because we survived based on what we feel. If we got scared and ran, we survived. We passed on our genes. If we stopped and looked at the boulder coming down the mountain and thought ‘well, I wonder how fast that’s going or what’s going to happen if it hits me?’ Squash. That person is gone. So whatever your belief system, I think we can all agree that emotion plays an important part in moving our species forward and getting our species to take action.
Nick: [00:03:43] So where am I going with this in terms of marketing and what it means for your practice? Well, once you have an understanding of the amygdala, and once you understand its function and its role in our past, in our evolution, you’ll understand the amygdala is responsible for getting people to move. From getting people to go from point A to point B. From getting them to get angry and get greedy based on their own survival. It’s the number one driver of action in the human brain. Far more than anything else we could do from a reasoning standpoint. Far more than anything we could do from an enticement standpoint. The amygdala is pure survival instinct. And you can leverage this instinct to get people to take action in your practice and to increase your overall sales in an ethical manner — but in a way that gets people to take the action that they want to take, that they should take but have not had a reason to take. This is sometimes known as FoMO, the Fear of Missing Out. And the reason that we have this is because we are conditioned, we’ve been conditioned over time through our survival and things like shortages and famines, which if you look up the word famine is literally described as an extreme scarcity of food. Scarcity is ingrained in us. When food is scarce, we die. Plain and simple. For the amygdala, it’s literally that simple. The amygdala doesn’t reason, it doesn’t judge, and it doesn’t rationalize. it just acts to preserve life. And when in the past we’ve had famines, we’ve had a shortage of food. Rats got into our food supply. There was a disease. Anything that caused the shortage of any kind. It can be water. It can be food. Typically lead to death. So we are deadly afraid of dying from a lack of things. Now you don’t have to take my word for it. You don’t even have to google it. You don’t have to verify this in any way. If you have access to children. If you’ve got access to children, you can see this for yourself and you can prove this for yourself.
Nick: [00:05:45] What I want you to do is find that young child and put a bowl of marbles in front of them. Make all the marbles one color. Don’t pick their favorite color right. You’re going to handicap yourself. Pick colors that they’re not particularly interested or disinterested in. Average colors. Have that ball full of the same type of marble. The same color, the same texture, the same material. And in that ball on top or amongst them, place another marble that’s visible of a distinctly different variety. Something of a different color or anything that makes it a little bit unique but nothing overly special. Ask the child to pick a marble out of the bowl. Tell them they can only have one and see which one they take. Then want I want you to do is reverse that process. Take that color marble that they picked, fill the bowl with those and make only one of the other colors the singular marble in the bowl. And then repeat that. What you’ll find most times is that the child will pick the singular marble because it’s scarce. There’s no other reason. Children aren’t thinking about it. They’re not out to deceive you they’re acting purely on emotion and the amygdala and that’s showing them that this particular item is scarce therefore you should hold on to it. It’s so ingrained in us that it’s built in at a genetic level and you can use that in your practice to move people to action and to make more money.
Nick: [00:07:00] So let’s dive into how you can create scarcity to move buyers forward. We’re going to discuss a few types of scarcity now. When talking about scarcity they all really fall into a couple of basic groups and we’re going to talk about those three today. There is more if you want to break it down and really analyze it. But for the sake of simplicity and for something that you can take action on today, you could literally go to your practice and start implementing these items today. We’re going to just segregate them into a few buckets. Those buckets are time scarcity, availability and quantity, and exclusivity.
Nick: [00:07:37] And let’s get into each one of them now. So let’s start with time scarcity. Time scarcity is used when you’ve got a deadline of some sort. So let’s say that you’ve got a Black Friday sale or a Christmas sale or you’ve got a special “Get into spring” event or a summer madness. Anything that’s got a reason for you to end it. Especially if it’s a holiday or special date or it’s your businesses anniversary and you’re celebrating it or you’ve got an open house – one day only. Anything that you can terminate by time can create time scarcity. So if you’ve got a special on fillers or CoolSculpting or any other kind of cream or product and you want to offer a two for one or you want to offer a discount or you want to offer a bonus of some sort and then you add scarcity to it. It tends to get people to take action more than if you just offer the product and the service and the discount on its own. Time scarcity is something that you can leverage on an ongoing basis and that you can plan for ahead of time and you can start thinking about ways to get people to take action on the date or before that date. And the interesting thing about time scarcity is that the closer the deadline comes, the more people take action. So let’s say you’ve got a sale that you start promoting for a week. You’ve got seven days. On day one of the sale you’ll have some sales. Day two three four or five, it will start to pick up a bit. Day six and seven. And the last day – day seven, when it’s going to end today at 5 o’clock or midnight. If you promote throughout that process, and make sure that you promote on the last day, you will have the highest number of sales on the last day. Every single time we see it over and over again in the work that we do. So time scarcity is the first form of scarcity. Very powerful. I want you to think about ways that you can go back to your practice and start applying time scarcity in your offers and adding deadlines to things that you’re doing. Including appointment bookings. Including surgical dates. Start thinking about how you can add scarcity to your entire business.
Nick: [00:09:39] The next form of scarcity we’re going to talk about is availability and quantity. So you have seen these these are things like a clearance sale, oversupply. I bought too many of this, only got five left. This can be used for gift bags. This can be used for items that you may be overstocking. This can be used for pretty much anything that you have in limited supply and you can claim that you’ve had a run on or you can have a legitimate shortage of and start using that availability and quantity scarcity in your marketing. For example, let’s say that you’ve got a special on fillers so if you come in and you buy two syringes of filler, you will get a special 600 dollars worth of creams and products and services at your medical practice if you take advantage of this by a certain date. So what I did there is I combine two forms of scarcity. I combined quantity and I combined times scarcity. So what I would do in that case is I would take the gift bags and say that we’ve got a limited supply because our vendors have given us free gifts for our patients but they’ve only given us a limited number available to the first 20 or 50 or however many people you want to limit to, are based on what you’re able to get. The first 20 people get the gift bag bonus on top of this. Call us right away, this ends tonight at midnight. So you can combine scarcity. That’s the powerful thing about it. You can start to create it in more than one way and that’s just a quick little example that you can take back to your practice and apply right away if you want and start moving and using those two forms of scarcity.
Nick: [00:11:16] The last from a scarcity I want to talk to you about today is exclusivity. So how do we create scarcity with exclusivity? You’ve seen this happen before. For example, with original works of art. Limited prints. Something that is available only to a certain number of people. VIP products. VIP memberships. Fame is a form of exclusivity. Let’s say that you are going to produce a new TV commercial and you’re looking for three outstanding patients. Anybody that books their CoolSculpting and gets great results in the next week. I know it takes time to get those results. I’m using it just as an example. Anyone that books within the next week and gets great results will be featured on our television commercial moving forward or will accompany Dr. Smith on Good Morning America in July. Anything where you can appeal to fame and add scarcity on the back of that with exclusivity, you can do that. It’s more typically used with VIP clubs. Right. So if you think about a nightclub and you’ve got the VIP area, people want in to that area but it’s only available to very exclusive people. Therefore people actually want it more. So it’s a form of scarcity where only a limited amount of people can get in there. And if you do the right things, jump through the right hoops, know the right people, pay the right amount of money, wear a short enough skirt, you can get into that group. And you can do this in your practice as well. You can have VIP memberships for people that buy more. For people that refer more. For people that are more valuable to your practice. And you can get people to work towards that exclusivity. Get them to work their way into it and wanted more. Because generally speaking, the less that we can have something the more that we want it. The less access we have to something, the more we want that thing. It doesn’t matter what we have. There’s a reason why the saying ‘The grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ was invented. Because the grass is always greener on the other side. Because people are always looking outward and comparing and if they can’t have it, they want it. And you can use that mindset. You can use the amygdala to your advantage. You can use that psychology. That base human drive to move towards or away from something to your advantage. So I want you to start thinking about your offers. I want you to start thinking about your newsletters. I want you to start thinking about the advertising that you’re putting out. If you’re not using scarcity in any of them, not only are you missing out but you’ve got a huge opportunity to start doing better, to start getting them to perform better, to start getting more people to take action and take advantage of your products and services. Beyond the promotion, I want you to start thinking about how else you can use scarcity.
Nick: [00:14:01] There’s an additional form of scarcity. There’s an additional way to use it that a lot of practices don’t take advantage of because they tend to hire good natured employees who try to serve the client as best as possible. And in doing so they may be giving the client a way to not take action on something that they really wanted and something that would change their life and improve their life forever. I’m talking of course about the reception area. Receptionists are notorious for trying to be overly helpful when people call. They will offer you any number of spots. ‘Yes, sure you can come in Friday, you can come in Tuesday. We have time Monday, we have time Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon, wednesday morning. Tuesday afternoon, tuesday morning. Thursday afternoon, Friday. Every day of the week.’ They will try to accommodate that person because they’re not taking advantage of the psychology. They are trying to please when they should be trying to motivate. So that’s another training opportunity that you have for your staff. To start teaching them about the power of scarcity. To start teaching them about why people take action. And when they offer a time, offer a limited time. ‘I have time. Wednesday morning at 10:00. Does that work for you?’ The client says no. Then ask ‘What would work for you? Morning or Afternoon?’ Based on the reply, she can then offer another single time. For anybody that doesn’t fit into those time slots, and if she can’t work this to her advantage or if she had to book a person further out, start a waiting list. Tell them that you have the occasional cancellation. ‘The doctor is very busy but you may be able to squeeze them in. Can we put you on a waiting list?’ So you’re using scarcity multiple ways without actually offering anything. So this is a way to use scarcity and use that psychology to your advantage without having to do any kind of promotion or sale or advertisement. I want you to start thinking about scarcity in more ways than just promotion. Now scarcity may sound like the next best thing. It may sound like it’s something that you should be using right away and it’s something that’s really advantageous, and you want to apply it immediately, and I hope you do. But before you do I don’t want you to stop listening to the podcast before you understand the dark side of scarcity.
Nick: [00:16:12] If you don’t use scarcity correctly you can actually harm your practice more than you help it. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that you never want to create false scarcity. If people understand that your scarcity is an illusion or they feel like it’s an illusion, it can come off as trickery. You can come off seeming dishonest. Like you’re just out for the money, and they won’t take action anyway, and it’ll hurt your reputation at the same time. So if you’re going to create scarcity, I want you to create real scarcity. I want you to reach out to your suppliers and I want you to get things for your gift bags. And when you have those gift bags, they will genuinely be of a limited supply.
Nick: [00:16:48] Now on future podcasts we’ll discuss how to handle what happens when you run out and how to deal with the overflow but we’ll save that for another time. I also want you to start thinking long term. Your practice is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. If you have a deadline, you have to stick to the deadline. Don’t keep your sales and your special promotions open past the deadline. If it’s a Black Friday, it ends on Black Friday. Doesn’t matter how much the person calls and whines and moans and complains. You have to be firm because you’re thinking long term. You have to think long term. And thinking long term means training your mailing list. Training your client base to take action when you’ve got an offer. Because if they get the impression that they can always call after the fact and still get it, get their raincheck, just get anything anyway. The next time that you have a promotion, it won’t work. So what you have to do is you have to start thinking that what you’re doing is more than just running a single promotion. You’re running a promotion so that you can run future promotions long term. Get people to take action. Cut off your deadline. The next time that you run your promotion, it’ll be even more effective. Because people will know that if they miss out this time, they really will have missed out. So that’s the second warning. I want you to be very very careful that you’re not short sighted and you don’t just go for the immediate grab of cash. You want to make sure that you’re strategic with your scarcity and you employ it so that you can use it long term.
Nick: [00:18:17] The other thing you don’t want to do with scarcity is use it too often. Understand that if you’re running weekly promotions or constant ongoing specials, then you’re training your client to only buy when there’s an offer on the table. When there’s a discount. Now there’s two sides to that coin because that is a valid strategy. You can use discounting as a strategy to grow your practice but that has to be a strategic decision. Don’t fall into that discount mentality because you started using scarcity. If you’re going to use scarcity and you’ve got a plan to do it weekly or monthly or ongoing, you want to make sure that that’s a strategic decision that fits into your marketing plan and that you’re applying that consistently and that you understand what happens with scarcity offers that you have this feast and famine cycle. Which is perfectly fine because you can do really well on holidays. You can do really well when you’re running your promotions. And you can get people to take action. But you have to understand that the dips will be there and you will tend to have slower periods during those cycles. Between those cycles of promotions. So if you don’t want that, make Sure that you run your scarcity offers only when they’re valid. Run them planned periodically. And when you run them, make sure people understand that it ends and they won’t come again for quite a while.
Nick: [00:19:36] I hope that was helpful. I hope that you start to use time availability exclusivity in your practice. I hope that you go back to your practice and start brainstorming with your staff and start thinking of new promotions and new ways to start using scarcity. I hope that you evaluate your promotions that you’re doing now online. Your Facebook ads. Your Google ads. Everything that you’re doing. You can now start to employ some form of scarcity, including your reception area. Including your surgical dates. Including the closing process in your practice when people are deciding whether to take action or not after they’ve seen you for a consultation. I want you to go back to your practice. I want you to start using these techniques. I want you to report back. Come onto the podcasts website. Let us know how things are going. Comment on iTunes. Comment on Google if you’re listening on Android and let us know how things are going. I wish you all the best and I will see you on the next episode. Thank you and good day.