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I recently received a mailing from Inc. magazine. Under the return address were the following words:

We must hear back from you within the next 10 days. An urgent postage-paid envelope is enclosed for your convenience.

While I must admit that I wasn’t even tempted to open the envelope, it did get me thinking about the issue of creating urgency in marketing materials. It also made me wonder what the difference is between an ordinary postage-paid envelope and an “urgent” one, but that’s probably another subject altogether!


If you want to increase your sales you need to motivate your prospects to take the next step now, when they are most interested. After all, if they decide to wait until “later,” later may never come. That’s why creating a real sense of urgency in your marketing materials is so important. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. For example, you can:

  1. Make them really want it – Show your prospects how your products or services will measurably improve their lives, either by giving them something wonderful that they truly want or by helping them avoiding something terrible that they don’t.

  2. State a specific deadline – Respond by 6:00 pm October 14th.Mention that deadline in your email subject line or on your direct mail package’s outer envelope. The clock’s ticking! Order before 6:00 Oct 14th and save!

  3. Imply time sensitivity in the offer name – Advertise your Early Bird Special, Memorial Day Sale, etc.

  4. Give an incentive – Offer a free bonus that’s tied to your deadline: FREE SHIPPING if you order by 6:00 pm Oct 14th.

  5. Make it a limited offer – Create urgency through scarcity. Limited Time, Limited Quantities, Limited Edition, Only 3 Left in Stock.

  6. Use urgent wording – Use your call to action to urge action: Act Now, Don’t Miss Out, Immediate Reply Requested, Call Today, Don’t Delay.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply create a sense of urgency. You also need to ensure that potential customers have the information they need to make a buying decision, and that it’s easy for them to act. Tell them exactly what they need to do next, and make doing this easy. For example, send them to a webpage where they can respond to your offer, put your phone number in big print, or include a map to your location.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon