Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The Snowmobile That Bit Me

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Tue, 2008-01-08 11:05.
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Exclusivity, rarity, or uniqueness is a very strong psychological trigger for the right product or the right situation. The basic concept is to make the prospect feel that he or she is special—that you are really allowing that prospect to buy a particular product that few people can obtain regardless of price.

The emotional appeal of this approach is quite strong. Everyone likes to feel special. Most people would like to belong to a rare group that owns a product that only a few people can own and enjoy.

By limiting the number produced, some marketing companies have come up with a very strong appeal for consumers. The Franklin Mint—a multimillion dollar business—was built on the premise of the limited edition, first with coins and then later with everything from plates and cups to model cars and airplane tails. Anything you could collect and that was limited was fair game for the Mint.

The thought behind the limited edition is also to provide value. As people build various collections of things, the objects grow in value if others start collecting the same items too. A demand is then built. Soon the collections come to the attention of the mass market, and that attracts even more collectors. Then the value of the collections really starts to grow.

I have searched the Internet, studied magazines for collectors, and placed ads, but to date I have not found anyone else who has collected airplane tails. So, obviously, this is one of those few examples that didn’t appreciate in value. Or maybe it will. I often thought, while I was collecting them, that I was the only one who did and that the guys at the Mint had made this one collection just for me. If anybody else out there has such a collection, please contact me. Thank you.

The collectibles with the most limited number in circulation grow in value even more. And there’s always the story of somebody discovering an old heirloom in the attic that turns out to be worth a small fortune. Hey, silver airplane tails might even be one of them.

However, there are items that fit all the parameters of being limited and exclusive but never grow much in value. For example, cars. If too many of a “limited” car were produced, the value of that car takes a long time to grow. On the other hand, there are Ferrari automobiles from the ’60s that have appreciated tremendously, because so few were made and they have a big following among well-heeled car buffs.

The power of exclusivity was driven home to me in October of 1980 when I was in
Minocqua, Wisconsin. It was right after I had given one of my seminars. At the seminar site, for the enjoyment of the participants, I kept a stable of six snowmobiles. Whenever I gave a seminar during the winter, I would have these machines available for my students during their breaks and for entertainment. Riding snowmobiles was a lot of fun and everybody loved to ride them. Then one day the president of Mattel Electronics, Jeff Rochles, broke his arm in a bad snowmobile accident. That ended our snowmobile program.

I now had six snowmobiles in my garage with not many people to use them other than the few friends who would visit me from time to time. Out of curiosity, one day I visited the local snowmobile shop—the same place that had sold me the six I already owned. I obviously didn’t need any more, but I wanted to see what small improvements had been added to the new models.

I walked into the shop and asked the salesman, “Well, Paul, what’s new for this year?”

Paul took me over to a snowmobile that was propped up on a small riser and pointed to it.

“This baby is our new oil-cooled model that goes over 100 miles per hour and sells for $2,600.”

At the time, snowmobiles were selling for under $1,000 and their top speed was around 40 miles per hour, so this new model was obviously special. But regardless of how special it was, I already had six and I certainly did not need any more. I turned to Paul and in a matter-of-fact-way said, “Who could possibly want a snowmobile that could go 100 miles per hour and cost $2,600? How ridiculous.”

Paul chuckled, “Well, there are only going to be six sold in the entire state this year. We’ve only been allocated two of them and we already have one sold.”

I then quickly blurted out, “I’ll take this one.” Yes, I ended up buying it. I wanted to be one of the few who owned this powerful, exclusive new machine. I wanted to feel that I was part of a unique group and that I was special. Even though I didn’t need any more snowmobiles, my emotions got the better of me and I ended up buying it.
It was this incident that made me realize the power of exclusivity. How can you use it in the selling process? Simply by making what you are selling appear to be exclusive, usually by limiting the number made, and then making this fact known to your prospect. Making a product exclusive creates a greater demand.

For example, if I was selling an Oldsmobile Aurora, I’d mention that very few of them have been built in comparison to the Chevy, and even cite figures. It creates the impression in the mind of the prospect that he or she is getting a car that is special.

If I was selling a book that was not printed in any substantial quantity, I might number each book and have the author autograph them. The autograph makes the book special to the purchaser. The numbering makes each book one of a limited number.

Autographing something brings up its value. It makes the product that is signed more exclusive and special. The more fame you have, the more valuable your name and the more valuable your signature.

Use your imagination and come up with a dozen ways you can make your product more exclusive, unique, or rare. You can limit quantities, sign and number your products, or underproduce them. Then share that information with your prospect. We all like to be treated as special, and one of the best ways to do it in a very emotional way is through the power of exclusivity.
Trigger 20: Exclusivity

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