This blog is a zero drama zone.

Creative ways to create a ticking clock {urgency}


When you’re watching a TV show (like Scandal—OMG!), a thriller film, or reading a page-turning novel, there’s always some type of “ticking clock” to build suspense.

If someone doesn’t find the bomb within the next 15 minutes, everything will blow up.

If Olivia Pope doesn’t fix the scandal by the end of the episode, everything implodes.

Time is of the essence!

A ticking clock creates instant drama and excitement—but it’s not just for TV shows. You can use this same technique when you’re announcing a product, service, program, seminar, or any other type of business offering.

Problem is, lots of entrepreneurs attempt to use the ticking clock technique—but do it really poorly. You’ve seen this a million times before. It always sounds the same: “Super exclusive fast action bonus!! Act within the next 5 minutes ONLY or this offer disappears FOREVER! Don’t miss out!!” Blech. That type of language is cheesy and disrespectful to your customers’ intelligence. Just… don’t.

There are much, much better ways to create a feeling of urgency.

Here are 3 approaches that you can try out:

1. Give the challenge of a lifetime—plus a deadline.

Remember the movie Run Lola Run? (If you’ve never seen it, stop everything in your life and watch it ASAP). Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks or her beloved boyfriend will get killed by a notorious criminal. Talk about a ticking clock!!
How will she do it? Can she do it? OMG—what’s going to happen?!

Lola has to complete the challenge of a lifetime—and the stakes could not be higher. You can create that same type of feeling for your clients by describing a big, exciting goal that can (or must!) be completed within a specific time frame.

Like: “Declutter your entire closet—in 2 hours—and create 5 amazing outfits using items you already own. You can totally do it. I’ll show you how!”

Or: “Train for a tough-as-hell obstacle course in 10 weeks—even if you can barely do one push up. See how strong you can be. I’ll guide you through the entire training plan—and it all starts on Monday!”

By issuing an exciting challenge—with a specific deadline—you create tons of urgency.  Run Client Run!

2. Create a “limited edition” experience.

Let’s say you’ve created an online video-class for people who want to learn how to twerk. Booty shaking tips and tutorials for beginners. Dance routines to master at home. Amazing! You could offer two enrollment levels. Level 1: You get the video-class and that’s it. Level 2: You get the video-class + a private twerking lesson + a pair of custom booty shorts emblazoned with your name in your fave color! OMG!

For Level 1, you explain to your customers that you’ve got unlimited spaces available. But for Level 2, you’ve only got 7 spaces available. Ooh!!! Just like that, you’ve created tons of urgency because you’re offering a “limited edition” experience. Once those 7 spots have been filled with 7 bodacious booty-shaking customers, they’re gone for real. (Side note: someone PLEASE make this type of class. I will be your first customer!)

3. Ramp up excitement—by launching less frequently.

If you have a signature program that you ONLY offer one time per year, for realsies, seriously, no exceptions, that type of “scarcity” can motivate your audience to act quickly so they don’t miss the boat.

You may have noticed: this is what I do with my year-long program, OBSESSED. Enrollment is open in November and then class begins in December. If you don’t sign up by the end of November, then—tragically—you’ve got to wait almost a whole year for a chance to join the next session. {ugly cry face}

This strategy can be really effective—if it’s genuine. If you claim that something is only available once a year—but then you change your mind and do it 4x a year—that’s going to chip away at your credibility. Your clients probably won’t take you seriously if you make similar claims in the future.

Every business is different, but generally speaking, when something is “infrequent” and “rare,” customers tend to value it more highly—and tend to jump onboard more quickly. That’s part of the reason why Harry Potter fans are weeping rivers of joy over the new book—it’s been years since J.K. Rowling released the last book in the series! This is a long-awaited treasure—hundreds of thousands of Potterphiles are snapping it up. Accio Sales!

Which “ticking clock” approach will you try with your audience?

Will you issue a thrilling challenge with a deadline—your own version of Run Lola Run?

Will you create a limited edition offering or a special enrollment level with extra perks—once it’s gone, it’s gone?

Will you tantalize your clients by offering something rare, unusual, and infrequent—with a time-sensitive enrollment period?

All of the above?

There are so many ways to create excitement and urgency for your customers.

You absolutely do NOT need to lie, harass, invoke fear, or bark tyrannical orders at people (“You must act now!!!”). Hellz no.

Instead, think like a TV screenwriter. Use your imagination. Take your customers on a thrilling ride filled with suspense, excitement, big challenges—and even bigger rewards for leaping into action instead of procrastinating forever.

Need some “ticking clock” inspiration? Curl up and binge-watch Scandal (obvs!), Grey’s Anatomy (especially Episode 17 from Season 2—you’ll see why), Gone Girl (watch Ben Affleck race against the clock to find his missing wife and prove that he’s not a murderer!!), The Walking Dead (nothing like a sudden zombie attack to create urgency!!!), and my new obsession: Making Moves (OK, this one doesn’t really have much urgency, but it DOES have the most insane dance numbers and a villainous choreographer who rides a hoverboard, soooo… yeah. You need to watch all of it.)

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