During the early 20th Century there was a famous baseball player called Honus Wagner. At that time tobacco companies produced baseball cards and included them with their cigarettes for people to collect.
Wagner, however, was adverse to the promotion of smoking so in 1909, when tobacco companies, started giving out their current set, he had his card removed.
As a result of this less than 60 Honus Wagner baseball cards are known to exist and very few are in mint condition.
In February 2007 one these few sold for a staggering 2.35 million dollars!
How did this happen?
Partly due to the fact that collecting baseball cards is a popular pastime but mostly due to what is called: The law of Scarcity.
Put simply the law of scarcity states that when something is hard to come by or is only available for a limited time then its value increases dramatically.
There are two aspects of the law of scarcity. These are:
1. The rule of Limited Quantity.
2. The rule of Limited Time.
1. The Rule of Limited Quantity.
The rule of limited quantity is where there is only a certain amount of something available.
The most obvious and powerful example of this in action is the previous example of the Honus Wagner baseball card.
Due to the fact that there are only 60 left in existence and very few of these are in good condition this has elevated the value of one to an amazing 2.35 million dollars.
The rule of limited quantity can be used in many ways. I run a training organisation and one of the ways that I encourage people to book on my courses is by allocating a maximum number of places for each course.
This way, as the course begins to fill, I can say to people to act fast or they may miss out as there are only a limited amount of places available.
For most people the fear of missing out on something they want is a tremendously powerful motivating force and utilizing it in this way can often give them the final push they need to make a decision.
2. The rule of Limited Time
The rule of limited time is similar to that of limited quantity only this time you restrict the amount of time somebody has to do something.
We live in a society where a lot of what we do is governed by deadlines.
Whether it is at work or in our personal lives, we are given or give ourselves deadlines on a regular basis.
Why do we do this?
A deadline creates a massive sense of urgency!
If we do not commit ourselves to do something by a particular date then there is rarely enough motivation to carry out the task.
Think about the last time you carried out a tax return or had a project to hand in at work by a certain time.
Now, how much more motivated did you become the closer and closer you got to the deadline?
A lot more Id guess!
Giving people a time limit to do something creates a sense of motivation and urgency that increases the closer they get to the deadline.
I mentioned in the last section that I use the rule of limited quantity to increase the number of people booking on my training courses. I also use the rule of limited time to achieve this outcome.
What I do is I offer a limited number of people a discount on one of my training courses. However, I let them know that the discount is only valid for 21 days starting now!
After that they can still book on the course but, if they do, they will miss out on their discount.
This works incredibly well because as soon as the offer is made the clock starts ticking. By the end of the 21 days the fear of missing out on a discount is at its peak and this pressure is often enough to convince them to commit.