Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. In other words, the more time you have to complete a task, the longer it will take to finish it. This principle can be applied to marketing, sales, branding, design, and advertising to help boost productivity, increase efficiency, and create a sense of urgency.
1. Use Time-Limited Discounts
By setting a deadline for the discount, you create a sense of urgency and encourage your audience to take advantage of the offer before it expires.
Example: The online retailer Amazon often offers time-limited discounts on products as part of their marketing strategy. These discounts typically last for a few hours or days, creating a sense of urgency and encouraging customers to make a purchase before the discount expires.
2. Use Countdown Timers in Your Campaigns
Countdown timers create a sense of urgency and time pressure among your audience, encouraging them to take action quickly.
Example: The travel website Expedia often uses countdown clocks to promote limited-time sales on hotel and flight packages. By showing customers how much time is left to take advantage of the sale, Expedia creates a sense of urgency and encourages them to book their trip before time runs out.
3. Set Tight Deadlines for Projects
Setting tight deadlines for your marketing projects can be a powerful way to leverage Parkinson’s Law. By limiting the amount of time available to complete a project, you create a sense of urgency and encourage your team to work more efficiently.
Example: Ogilvy set a tight deadline for their campaign for the airline British Airways. The campaign had to be completed in just 10 days, which created a sense of urgency among the team and encouraged them to work quickly and efficiently.
4. Limit the Quantity Available
By emphasizing the limited availability of your product or service, you create a sense of urgency and encourage your audience to take action quickly.
Example: The online retailer Zappos used scarcity in their marketing campaign for a limited edition shoe. The campaign emphasized the limited quantity of the shoe, creating a sense of urgency and encouraging customers to make a purchase before the shoe sold out.
5. Use Urgency-Inducing Language
Urgent language creates a sense of urgency and encourages your audience to take action quickly.
Example: The food delivery service Grubhub uses urgent language in their marketing messaging to encourage users to place an order quickly. Their messaging often includes phrases like “order now” and “don’t miss out.”
6. Break Projects into Smaller Tasks
Parkinson’s Law can be overwhelming if you try to tackle a big project all at once. Instead, break the project into smaller tasks with shorter deadlines. This will help you stay focused and motivated.
Example: The project management tool Trello encourages users to break projects into smaller tasks by using a Kanban board. By breaking a project into smaller tasks, Trello helps users stay focused and motivated to complete each task.
7. Create a Waiting List
By creating a waiting list, you can create the perception that your product or service is in high demand and therefore desirable.
When you create a waiting list, interested customers can sign up and provide their contact information. You can then use this information to build anticipation for the release of your product or service. You can send updates and teasers to those on the waiting list, keeping them informed of the progress and creating a sense of exclusivity.
Example: To manage the high demand and maintain the exclusivity of their brand, Hermes uses a waiting list for their Birkin and Kelly handbags. Customers can sign up for the waiting list at Hermes stores or on the brand’s website. Once on the waiting list, customers are informed of the progress and status of their order.
8. Create Scarcity with Early Bird Pricing
Early bird pricing is a promotional strategy where a product or service is offered at a discounted price for a limited period, for the first few customers who take advantage of the offer. This creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity among customers who want to take advantage of the discounted price.
Example: The ticketing website Eventbrite often offers early bird pricing for tickets to events. By offering a lower price to the first few customers, Eventbrite creates a sense of urgency and scarcity, encouraging customers to purchase before someone else does.
Other cognitive biases that are similar to Parkinson’s Law:
The Zeigarnik Effect: This bias refers to the tendency for people to remember incomplete tasks or events better than completed ones. This can be used in marketing by creating an unfinished experience that customers will want to complete, such as a series of emails or a challenge that requires multiple steps to complete.
The Scarcity Principle: This bias refers to the way that the perceived scarcity of a product or service can increase its value and desirability. This can be used in marketing by creating a sense of scarcity or urgency around a product or service, such as through limited-time offers or exclusive promotions.
“The Power of Parkinson’s Law in Marketing” by Rachel Foster on Content Marketing Institute – https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/02/power-parkinsons-law-marketing/
“How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Boost Productivity” by Belle Beth Cooper on Fast Company – https://www.fastcompany.com/3028067/how-to-use-parkinsons-law-to-boost-productivity
“The Zeigarnik Effect: How to Increase Customer Engagement” by John Stevens on Mention – https://mention.com/en/blog/zeigarnik-effect/
“10 Scarcity Marketing Examples to Boost Your Sales” by Kristen McCormick on WordStream – https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2020/09/28/scarcity-marketing-examples