For months I had put it off. Every few years I call in the professionals to do some tree pruning. I live a neighborhood called Tall Oaks. As you can guess, there’s a lot of tall oak trees. I put it off because of the expense.
This morning I went out back to play some basketball. A brief gust of wind came through. I heard a loud bang. A huge branch fell off the oak tree and landed in front of our playset. After I caught my breath, I calmed down. I went inside and called a tree maintenance company.
“How soon can you come by?”
My story is an example of absolute urgency.
It is the strongest driver that compels someone to take action. In medieval times, they’d have thought it was sorcery
The cost of the tree service no longer mattered. The thought of one of my kids standing where that branch fell eliminated that concern.
Shoring up my trees is not only urgent but imperative.
Here’s a general example that anyone would identify with.
Imagine getting a letter from your doctor reminding you about your annual checkup. You put it off for a few weeks.
“I hate going to the doctor. All the pointing and prodding. Plus, it’s a few hundred out of pocket.”
You finally make your appointment and go for your checkup. A few days later your doctor calls you.
“Jim. Are you home? Is your wife with you? Good. Don’t be alarmed. I got your blood test results. Have your wife drive you to the emergency room right now. I’ll meet you there.”
You hear something like that and all other concerns disappear. Everything on your to-do list disappears. Does insurance cover it? Worry about that later.
That’s imperative urgency.
The Three Types Of Urgency
It’s a well-known fact. Urgency compels us to take action.
Urgency – Importance requiring swift action
What makes something urgent? According to the definition, it’s importance plus a deadline.
Here’s the problem. Importance is an abstract concept. That means we may not agree on what is or is not important. You see the problem, right? If you feel the action lacks importance you won’t agree that it’s urgent.
This is now pervasive in the online world. It happens when one side sets an artificial limit on a limitless quantity. Let’s pretend someone wants to sell you an ebook. They send you an email stating:
“Only 24 copies left. Buy now. “
Of course, there are no physical limitations on ebooks. You can sell a billion of them. There are other variations on this. Artificial deadlines are attempts to create urgency. You know they’re fake when things open up a week later.
Moving up the ladder we come to real urgency. This occurs when there is a real limitation on a product or service. Printing one thousand books is an example. Suppose you have thirty-six left. Now, real urgency exists because once they’re gone, you’ve lost the opportunity – at least until the next printing.
“If they run out, they run out. It’s fine.”
True urgency exists when demand outpaces supply.
Here’s the limitation with true urgency. Desire is subject a cost-benefit analysis.
Expense, inconvenience and priorities impact true urgency. I may want the book you’re selling. At $20, I crave it. At $100, I lose interest.
This is the top rung of urgency. Like real urgency, we demand something. We need to take swift action.
Here’s the difference.
Expense, inconvenience or other priorities are no longer a concern. We push everything else to the back burner. Like my tree situation, I called up the company to come in yesterday. With our fictional medical example, the patient drops what he’s doing and rushes to the emergency room.
If you’re in the business of satisfying imperative urgency you’ll never be short of customers.