It seems that wisdom is one of those things that isn't learned, it comes with pain, joy and other experiences. As I grow more mature in my business, I find that the more time that I spend setting expectations, the better or worse off the results are with our customers. If I say I'm going to get something accomplished and it takes longer than I had imagined – the missed expectation causes frustration. If I say I'm going to get something accomplished and I provide the project in addition to other work of value – I exceeded expectations and the client is happy.
I still fall short many times, but the foundation of my success in business is closely aligned with the expectations I set. I don't believe that's an epiphony – but I believe it's the foundation of good and bad marketing with any business online. Setting expectations is vastly under-estimated. Use cases, case studies, statistics, press releases, posts, updates… everything we do is often about the best-cased scenario, not about realistic scenarios.
This week I travelled to Florida to welcome my nephew back from his first deployment over in the Gulf. I drove down with my dog, so we did a lot of stopping. At one rest area in Florida, I found this rather humorous sign over the urinals.
The problem with the sign, of course, is that while it markets the automation of the urinal, to a smart butt like me, it provides a fully different, unattainable marketing message. The operation, of course, is not hands-free… that would be quite amazing but most likely illegal.
We have to be careful with the marketing expectations we set. While our goal may be to communicate the progress and investment we make, it doesn't necessarily communicate the same message to our audience.
Setting accurate, attainable expectations in your marketing efforts will help you identify and close the right customers, leading to increased retention and greater customer value. Setting poor expectations will not only lead to high attrition rates, it can also drive poor reviews and social chat online. This, in turn, can drive business away that might otherwise be good customers.
The foundation of all marketing is setting great expectations. Great marketing leads to great customer relationships, which leads to building a great reputation online… which leads to more great customers.