An unreserved apology to urgency in launches

Going up...
For the last decade, I have lived in various houses near Mount Gravatt.

Mount Gravatt is an oversized hill with a repeater dish on top. It is utterly lacking in mystery, intrigue and romance.

I still like it. I’ve been meaning to go eat my lunch at the top of that place for the entire decade that it’s been in my vicinity.

But I’ve never done it.

For many years there were reasons that was difficult: Day Job, no car, yadda yadda. Nowadays, I have no reason that’s stopping me from going. None at all.

Yet here I am, still eating lunch at my house, while Mount Gravatt lurks just a kilometre or two away. I want to go. There’s no reason at all for me NOT to go.

But there’s been no pressing reason for me to go, either: to bother putting on my shoes, packing up my lunch, backing the car out of my horrible driveway, etc etc etc… it feels pathetic to say it, but that’s a meaningful amount of effort.

It’s just easier to sit here and eat my lunch on the couch.

Welcome back to high school science lab.

*white lab coat and safety goggles… on*

Remember inertia? It’s a basic principle of physics: bodies at rest tend to stay at rest.

Simple physics: in order to create motion, you must impart enough energy to overcome inertia.

If you don’t, then the object goes… nowhere.

You can try this right now, science fans.

  1. Put a pencil on a notepad.
  2. Remove all obstacles in its path.
  3. Raise the end of the notepad an inch so the pencil wants to roll downhill.

And what happens? Not a damn thing. Inertia holds that pencil in place like it was glued there.

It wants to move, and there’s nothing in its path stopping it. But it doesn’t move.

It’s the same with me and that mountain.

It’s the same with your people and the offerings you present to them.

It’s not enough to make something people want.

It’s not enough to remove the obstacles and objections.

You have to do more.

You have to help your people overcome inertia.

This doesn’t require force, except in the most technical scientific sense. It’s better to think about it as requiring energy.

Scarcity is a source of energy. It says, “Do it quick, before we miss out!”

Peer pressure is a source of energy. It says, “Do it now, so we can belong!”

Caring is a source of energy. It says, “Do it now, so [someone] can benefit!” (The [someone] might be the client, or you, or a charity, or someone else.)

All of these things create urgency. Urgency overcomes inertia. Voilà! Movement.

Which is why all my launches in future will be closed, not open.

I refused, totally utterly refused, to use urgency for quite a long time. “It’s fake,” I said. “But I want to be available when my readers are ready,” I said. “Transformation takes time, and you have to be ready for it,” I said.

These are all true statements. But they don’t matter as much as inertia does.

My buy-it-whenever-you-like-seriously-it’s-all-good offerings did nothing to impart the motion toward buying it NOW instead of six months from now. And as the mountain and I both know, six months becomes a decade pretty damn quickly.

People wanted the offerings, the same way I want to eat overlooking the city. In most cases there was nothing stopping people from signing up that day. But they didn’t.

“It can wait. I’ll get it next week after that cheque comes in. I’ll get it after I buy that other thing I’ve had my eye on. I’m thirsty. I better go feed the cat. Where was I?”

Does it make that much difference?


I admitted to my newsletter subscribers that my leave-every-offer-open,-forever-and-ever, launch style wasn’t really working for either of us. So I announced that access to the awesometacular Cash and Joy Foundations resource would be closing in one week.

I tripled my sales total in that week.


Nothing about the resource had changed except for two very small things:

  • I told people about the resource more often.
  • It had an end date.

I heard from people who have been reading this website for six months without ever making contact.

I heard from people who suddenly wanted to take action, rightthissecond, and wanted to ask more about the resource.

I heard from people who were wondering if they should sign up right now because they have these things coming up, and they don’t want to miss out, so…

That is a lot of overcome inertia.

But doesn’t it feel manipulative?

No. I thought it would, but it doesn’t.

Let’s be clear: urgency is manipulative. You are manipulating external conditions in order to produce a result.

But you’re not manipulating people.

It’s an important distinction.

My bestest people wanted this resource.

My bestest people could afford this resource.

I manipulated the conditions to say that NOW would be a good time to get started.

That’s all.

Some people don’t have the money now, or the free time, or the headspace, or whatever. Some of them emailed me to find out when it re-opens. (Later October-ish, by the way: you can pop your email into the box to find out exactly when.)

That’s only two months away. By that time they will have either figured out the answers for themselves – yay! – or be one zillion percent ready to rock it out when it does re-open.

In the meantime, there are twenty people rocking it out now who might never have signed up, ever, if I had stayed with the doors-don’t-close model.

No movement, no action.

Urgency works.

I am now a convert.

I unashamedly and unreservedly apologise to urgency. You were right, I was wrong. I’ll be seeing you a lot in future.

But first, I gotta go have lunch up this damn mountain.

You might be wondering how I’ve stayed in business this long without using urgency at all: it’s because I do a lot of other things very, very well. Want to learn more? Sign up for Mo’Cash, Mo’Joy and we can talk about how you can do the same in a free 30-minute Marketing Check-up!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar

10 thoughts on “An unreserved apology to urgency in launches

  1. I like your stuff. I think your customers get good value from you.

    And on this one, I hesitate to agree with you. Unless the limitations are natural, and/or it’s inline with how your clients want to buy, a closed-end launch manipulates the buying process, which manipulates customers.

    Some customers like a little manipulation. We see that  in the fashion industry. Clothing stores manipulate. Clothes are around for a limited time. As a buyer of handbags, I want to get the latest bag, I feel urgency, the urgency works for me.

    Marketing consulting and products- if someone buys a product in a timely manner, they garner a faster benefit, usually. Is that enough to create urgency? Good lord I hope so.

    The manipulation severity is related to how tight the launch is, as well.

    Is it a quarterly closure? That’s pretty minor.

    A six-hour one? yuck. I know you wouldn’t do that.

    There are degrees to this, of course. 

    I contend that if you are making a good enough case, and you are pricing effectively, your stuff will sell, even in an online world. I am sure of it.

    That being said, I hope that most of the urgency your customers feel is an urgency to make hay in their business, and in doing so, they buy your stuff.  And you know that you’re awesome. We just don’t agree on this. And we have room for that, I hope.

    1. The first and most amusing thing, I think, was that in the case of Foundations it WOULD have worked better as a closed launch. I went through gigantic wranglings to make it an eternal offer. Ah, resistance.

      And of course it is possible to sell and sell well without urgency – I would be broke if that were not true.

      I’m still playing with these idea myself, of course. But I feel confident in saying that I was wrong to 100% dismiss urgency as a tool to rock it out in my business.

      Can we agree on that?

  2. Wait. more to add.
    This in no way makes me think of you as a manipulator! In the online world, we do not have the capability to craft a buying experience like our offline peers can. And there is far more choice on line, and a shorter attention span and all that. Selling online is a complex issue.
    I think that you, of all people, shouldn’t have a problem with inertia with your customers though, because your stuff is good. So…hmm….
    I send good energy your way and winkles with the hopes that more customers buy. 

    1. Thank you. 🙂

      I am still considering… is good enough? Because eating lunch on the mountain would be awesome, as would attending the roller derby every month, driving to the beach, and a whooooole lot of other things on my “someday” list.

      But I’m not doing them, no matter how awesome they are.

  3. Catherine,

    If someone told you the mountain was closing for six years tomorrow, you’d hoof it up there for lunch today! Urgency works to get folks off their duffs and make a decision.

    I like this message and will use it! Think of it as getting folks to enjoy lunch in a neat setting before life ends.

    So many folks keep waiting and waiting and then they find themselves at the end of life, never having done anything worth doing,.

    Someday is today.


  4. I agree with Giulietta. If you wanted to buy a house in an area where houses don’t stay available for long, you’d get off your ass and make an offer. If you’ve been wanting to go on a trip, but weren’t sure you could afford it and then plane tickets went on sale, you’d get off your ass and buy the ticket.

    You’re helping people make decisions they need to make rather then letting them get away with not making them. If they want that thingie and they can afford it, they’ll buy it. If they can’t, they won’t.

  5. It certainly worked on me!  And I’m glad that I asked for help so I could make it through the doors – the Facebook group alone is worth the price of admission.

    I’m a believer in urgency precisely because I see it as manipulating variables, not manipulating people.  Changing the conditions does create inertia, which is better for everyone, including your right people.

    My big question is how you do this with services.  I can definitely see how it works with courses, books, and other “static” products.  But when it comes to making urgency work in the realm of one-on-one coaching, for example, I get stumped.  You can certainly say there are only 5 spots open this month, but if you have no people signed up, the offer feels like it should stay open (if that makes sense).

    So how do you use urgency in a non-sleazy way in non-static-product situations?

    1. Such a good question, my lovely!

      Well, scarcity and time-limits are one thing, but there are also limited-duration bonuses or price reductions, and special package deals, to get started with.

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