Scarcities to exploit

TechDirt’s Mike Masnick summarizes 10 different scarcities your public service media company (okay… ANY media company) can use to fund operations:

So the key is to find scarcities — as we’ve said many times. But, not just any scarcities. Those scarcities must also be valuable. Value plus scarcity is the real reason to buy. And, the intersection may be different for each kind of content creator. In fact, it should be different for each content creator, because it is essential to recognize how to express the key value that a particular creator brings to the table. To help explain that, we discussed 10 key scarcities that are helpful to think through in creating reasons to buy. The list is not complete, but is a good starting point.

  1. Access: Access to the actual content creators is a real scarcity and one that can often be used to make money in ways that make fans quite happy. In fact, a study released at Midem claimed that, in a recent survey, 19% of respondents claimed they would pay anything to meet their favorite star. Now, obviously, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but it does suggest a high degree of demand for access from top fans.
  2. Attention: One of the most important scarcities in the digital age. Attention is incredibly scarce, and if you’ve got it, you can do a lot with it.
  3. Authenticity: This one also includes “trust.” The ability to be authentic carries tremendous weight and is quite scarce at times. But if you can provide something that is authentic and valuable, it’s often a very strong reason to buy.
  4. Exclusivity: Many people value having something that very few (or perhaps no) others have.
  5. (New) Creation: The ability to create something new is a scarcity. This often confuses people, because a digital good once created is no longer scarce — but the ability to create it is still very much a scarcity.
  6. Tangibility: The granddad of scarcities: physical products. Sometimes when we discuss scarcities people seem to think that we’re only talking about tangible products. Nothing is further from the truth, as we often think that other non-tangible scarcities represent much larger opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the value of tangible products.
  7. Time (saving or making): People will pay if you can save them time (or give them extra time in some manner).
  8. Convenience: If you make things more convenient, many people will buy, even if free options are available. That’s one reason why iTunes has done so well. Apple has made the whole process super convenient. It’s also one of the top reasons why people say they buy bottled water — even if they know the water quality is no different than tap water. They just find it more convenient.
  9. Belonging: Never underestimate just how important a sense of belonging to a group or a tribe is — and being able to provide that in an authentic manner can be a true scarcity.
  10. Patronage: Definitely depends on the situation, but there are some people who just want to support an artist, no matter what. And that presents a scarcity.


Awesome list and great thinking and strategy points. Some of this public broadcasters have already learned (belonging, patronage, attention).

But the rest are ready to be explored.