Everyone wants to be treated like a celebrity. Everyone wants the black card that gives them access to an awesome but scarce opportunity. Businesses can bring this experience to their customers by practicing scarcity and exclusivity.

Case Study: Please Don’t Tell

In his book, Contagious, Jonah Berger tells the story of Crif Dogs. A New York hot dog restaurant. The restaurant is really popular but not because of its food (which is probably pretty good) but because of its secret other business.

If you enter the restaurant you won’t see an entrance to another establishment. Instead, you’ll see a telephone booth. But when you enter the booth, move your finger in the rotary dial phone and pick up the receiver, you’ll hear a voice say, “Do you have a reservation?” If you do, than the back of the booth’s door opens wide to a secret bar called “Please Don’t Tell.”

You can only book reservations on the day of at a first-come-first-serve basis and the bar only has 45 seats! Reservations open at 3:00pm and are usually booked by 3:30pm. Jim Meehan, the creator of the bar’s menu, believes that this exclusive customer experience has caused it to be a word-of-mouth hotspot, “The most powerful marketing is personal recommendation. Nothing is more viral or infectious than one of your friends going to a place and giving it his full recommendation.”

Who doesn’t want to be part of secret establishment like Please Don’t Tell? We get excited when we are given a gold pass to a popular but secluded place or opportunity. So why not create a similar experience for your customer?

3 Tips to Make Your Customers Feel Like A-Listers

Not every company can insert a bar into their business plan or model but they can make their customers feel like they are part of a secret. Here is how:

1. Make Awesome Content and Deals Exclusive
ShoeDazzle offers great deals on shoes for women who join their VIP membership program. Customers can buy gorgeous flats for just $10 only if they join the program. Members are given another level of access that free members can’t get. If you don’t want to try the membership model you can give exclusive content to people on your email list. Recently, I was given access to a new podcast episode from the Fizzle Show that hasn’t aired on their website yet. I felt pretty special.

2. Practice Flash Sales or Limited Availability
The bar, Please Don’t Tell, only give access to people who took the time to book their reservations early. Many online businesses practice this same method by creating flash sales on major deals. For example, App Sumpo sells tools to entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses at more than half the original price. But the sales are scarce and usually sold out in a few hours. Customers have to pray that deals come back soon at a chance to buy them again.

3. Create Special Methods of Access
Customers can get access to great content only if they perform a special call of action. For example, offer a great product to a customer only if they refer someone else or tells you who referred them. This inserts word-of-mouth marketing and virality into your product.

Bonus: Follow Through With Your Deals!

If you create a form of limited availability and access, stick with it! I know this can be really hard for some people because they fear that they will be seen as snooty, but you have to do it to be taken seriously. You’re making normal access difficult, not impossible. If you have a fear that your customers will look elsewhere or reject the deal offer, offer a different but similarly effective alternative.