How Well Do You Trigger Anticipation?

January 4, 2018

by Carla Johnson

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for Sunday nights.

I grew up on a farm and work was never a 9-to-5 gig. With crops, hogs and cattle, we worked whenever work needed to be done.

But Sunday nights were different. Sunday night was when we had milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. We didn’t have to crowd around the kitchen table (seven people in a small farmhouse kitchen). It was the one day a week we were allowed to eat in the living room and watch TV. Not just any TV, but the weekly Disney movie,

I remember how it felt to watch Tinkerbell fly out from behind the Disney castle, wave her wand to sprinkle pixie dust, then fly away. That was the best because that meant the movie was ready to start.

I felt happy. Excited. Giddy.

It didn’t matter what the movie was, I knew Sunday evenings meant great things. I’d have a few hours of pure joy and then a week filled with anticipation for the next Sunday.

Exception or the rule?

Our days are filled with avoiding things that feel like a drag – unnecessary meetings, an overflowing inbox, a too-full schedule. We do our best to stretch out the things we look forward to – a great dinner, a beautiful sunset, time with friends.

As marketers, we talk about engagement, conversion and ROI. We never talk about anticipation.

But we should.

Our audiences and employees should have anticipation about great things to come from our companies. These things don’t have to be grandiose. In fact, it’s the culmination of the little things that add up to great anticipation.

For me as a kid, it was the culmination of not having to eat around a crowded table. Having a break from farm work. Savoring a milkshake. And watching a great movie.

Anticipation for Sunday night was the rule for me, not the exception. I had anticipation because I knew there was always a great experience around the corner.

What are you creating?

Our audiences and employees aren’t excited about what’s coming down the pike from us.

So there’s no anticipation.

We launch campaigns and content, but does it creating anticipation? Or is it checking a box for something we think we ‘should’ do? Will it make customers have a joyful anticipation of hearing from us again?

When we’re launching an employee benefit program, is it designed for people to anticipate a great experience? Or is it yet another boring rehash of something we’ve done year after year?

The next time you sit down to create, write or contribute, ask yourself if the path that you’re on will create a delightful anticipation for the next time someone hears from you. Start with an email you’re sending and work up through how you approach bigger projects.

Because, if we’re going to ask for people’s time and attention, we need to give them something great to look forward to.

Are you interested in learning how you can trigger anticipation for your customers or employees? Contact me and let’s talk about how we can help. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, and  Twitter, and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Photo credit: Aaron Tilley & Kyle Bean

About Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands hasn’t gone unnoticed and the latest of her seven books, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketingsets the benchmark for a new era in marketing. Named one of the top 50 women in marketing and the chair of the ANA’s Business Marketing Association, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking.

Today, Carla travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.