The bait and switch is one of the oldest marketing cons in the book. But some of the most “effective” ways that it’s used is not what people expect.
I used to work at this car dealership, long ago. On big holiday weekends, they’d put big, full color ad in the paper for a particular truck, that was ridiculously priced.
Down at the bottom, though, in the smallest print possible, they would say that particular price was only for that ONE truck, with the VIN number listed and everything.
Needless to say, within 5 minutes of opening, that truck was GONE.
At the time, I didn’t realize it, but this type of marketing con attracts its own kind of savvy customers. These are folks that scan papers every weekend looking for sales just this one.
Should they happen to be in the market for this type of vehicle, or better yet, know somebody that is, they swoop in, pick it up and then unload it for a quick profit.
Even though the dealership loses money on this particular truck, you know the REAL con.
Average, everyday folks see that, don’t see the fine print, then come in around noon (with the rest of the weekend shopping crowd) and are suddenly hit by not one, but two powerful elements of subconscious mind triggers.
One is scarcity. The truck they wanted is now gone. But they’re also hit with social proof, since every other late riser is there as well.
Which creates yet another form of scarcity. Even if ten percent of the late risers decide to look around for another model, there’s so many people that finding a salesperson is difficult. Meaning that they’re standing around, on their own, wondering how horrible it would feel if somebody ELSE bought their car.
But sometimes, marketing gurus take this a bit further. The game is kind of the same, only they don’t plan on selling ANYTHING.
They promote like nobody’s business, all the while planning the ultimate bait and switch.
When the customer shows up, there’s NO product.
This requires some forethought, meaning they need to have a legitimate reason why their inventory has suddenly disappeared.
But if they can pull it off in a believable way, it’s almost GUARANTEED sales when they do somehow “come up with” some hidden inventory that they suddenly “found.”
Now, reading about this from a detached standpoint, it may seem easy to spot.
But when you’re in the middle of all those emotions of social proof, scarcity, fear of loss, etc, your triggers WILL take over.
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