The Velvet Rope

Tuesday 28th April 2020 Dave Sharp Start Ups!

There are only a few things that humans really respond to. Celebrity and success are two that spring to mind. Anyone notable or anyone successful are two people types that we all aspire to be seen as - its part of the human condition. For me, the third thing on that list is exclusivity. Being seen as in-the-know or someone of exclusive know how has some very positive implications, especially in business. So how do you use exclusivity in a positive way to benefit your business?

Introducing the concept of the Velvet Rope. You've all seen them outside nightclubs, bars and restaurants. The feeling that being inside the rope and therefore exclusive has driven the young and the restless since the dawn of going out. Can the Velvet Rope concept be used to help business?

Early access: Give someone who signs up for your mailing list early access to a white paper packed with great information or other relevant resources. This is like sharing a secret with someone; it engages and creates a special relationship between the people involved. It’s also a good technique because at some later date you can use the content for a more general purpose.

Members-only perks: This is a variation on the early access strategy. You can have aspects of your site or specially created content that is only available to those on your mailing list. This can be a digital resources, forums, reviews, photos, or the ability to ask you a question. Another members-only early-access perk would be advance notice of sales.

If you do this, we’ll…: If you’re promoting something like a an event, a webinar or something similar you can mention special offers that will only be available to those who participate. “If you attend the webinar will receive free copies of the slides and a transcript of the session.” Or you can say, “At the end of the session, we will give you a link to a 50 percent savings on our newest widget.”

We only have space for 25: Cap how many of an asset you’ll sell or how many people can participate in your event. Be honest about what you do. Adding something like, “This will not be available again until March 2015” is a way to give you the ability to re-offer the item/service and it also creates an additional sense of urgency.

Enlist the endorsement of a noted personality: If you want to introduce something new, connect with a person who is big on Twitter or a blog and say something like, “Only @davywavy followers will get a link to download the beta of our new Android app.”

Google used this kind of “VIP access” to create buzz during the roll-out of Google+, Gmail, and more. To get in on the early versions you had to be a friend-of-a-friend. There’s one more lesson we can learn from Google regarding this marketing technique: User expectations will be high when they sign up for something they feel is exclusive. Make sure what you offer is sign-up-worthy.


The Velvet Rope is about creating “exclusivity,” either real or imagined. The desire to become part of the “privileged few” will help turn casual visitors to your site into regular users, customers, and names for your mailing list. Apple is a company that has worked hard to create the feeling of exclusivity around its brand of products. The techniques above should work to get you started with a Velvet Rope for your business.

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