Anticipation can be a great marketing tactic. As Carly Simon sang in her song, and the 1979 Heinz Ketchup commercial, “Anticipation is making me wait.” This typically means you are waiting for something you want. This month the world was on the edge of their seats (apply heavy sarcasm here) with their eyes glued to their computer monitors watching the live-video feed of April the Giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. After over a year, everyone was waiting to see the arrival of the new baby giraffe.
While I love a new baby giraffe as much as the next girl, I just couldn’t see what all the hype was about, but after seeing the story covered day after day on the news and with the hysterical twist of the pregnant woman, Erin Deitrich getting in on the action as she spoofed April the Giraffe and put on a mask saying she would deliver her baby before April would, I gave in. I clicked over to see what all the fuss was about and, just as I thought, there was a large giraffe standing around in a 20’ x 20’ enclosure, taking a few steps now and then. I don’t know if I was expecting to see her doing yoga or sitting on an exercise ball to relieve her labor pains, but it was extremely BORING…but I watched her for over 5 minutes before I slapped myself out of the trance and made myself get back to work. Why? Because we all wanted to witness the moment she finally gave birth. We were heavy with anticipation.
I see companies ready to birth new websites, posting the exciting news, “We’ve got a new website coming” which, to be honest, is about as exciting, to anyone outside the company, as watching a giraffe walk around her enclosure. You may be launching a new book, a new website, opening a restaurant or store, but you’ve got to be creative to pull your audience in with anticipation in order to get them to stay engaged. People want to know what is in it for them and to be honest, you launching a new website USUALLY has nothing in it for your customers.
What if you could get your audience to be even half as excited as you are about your new website or business launch? What if you could get them to “tune in” and see how your project was developing? Here are a few ideas to help you use anticipation marketing:
Poll Your Audience
Create easy response polls to get your audience involved in helping you make decisions. This works great in real estate. Put up images of four different kitchens and ask which one people would want to cook their next meal in. What if for a website launch, you asked people to vote on 4 different font choices or color combinations.
Play “Would You Rather”
Along the same lines, you can show two choices and play would you rather. We work with a commercial interior design firm, and this works great. Ask your audience which chairs they would rather have at their desk, or which conference table looks more inviting Which uniform do you prefer? Could you ask your audience if they would rather have a content library filled with case studies or a challenge a day section they could draw inspiration from?
Name that Mascot
Of course once the little 6-foot, 150-pound baby giraffe was born (April, the zoo could hook the world a little longer by involving everyone in the naming of the little lad. They are raising funds by charging a dollar per vote, with a minimum of 5 votes per person. BRILLIANT. Of course, they are using the opportunity to educate everyone on the state of giraffes in the wild and the preservation efforts that they are involved in. In a different manner, what if you had a character in your business that helped educate the world on your products or services? John Kapos, of Perfection Chocolates in Sydney, Australia goes into his Chocolate Johnny character (a chocolate “dealer” with a bodyguard and a drag queen girlfriend) to bring funny videos to his fans. Could you have your audience help you name a company mascot or perhaps a fun “character” or spokesperson that will bring regular tips their way? You might have a harder time getting people to pay for their votes, but people love to have a say and it can be a fun way to get people coming back for more.
Create Some Drama
I love seeing the story of Sarah and Juan “unwrap” in the Extra Gum commercials. They have done a brilliant job of creating a romantic drama that draws you in. You anticipate their next short chapter. Could you use this type of story-creation to bring your audience along for the ride? There are many brands that tell part of a story in a commercial and then pull you to their website to see how it ends or to view the whole story. You could release a mini-chapter each week until the finale or big reveal.
Remember, anticipation is “the feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen,” according to Merriam-Webster anyway. If you want your audience to be excited about your brand and what is happening, get them involved; allow them to participate or go behind the curtain with you to watch. If that doesn’t work, you can always try getting pregnant and wearing a giraffe mask.
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