Lesson Learned

Looking Forward and Back Get’s Us Through


“can’t wait for the weekend”, “only 23 days till we get on that plane”, “remember when we saw that movie two weeks ago …. “
Here is a simple rule for marketers to keep in mind: people ( real people ) do not frame their lives around the experience of consuming your brand or service, they do focus their lives around events.

Big events like vacations and annual family get-togethers, weekly ritualized events like having the weekend off, that special trip to a concert, the short term planned lunch with friends. The daily events like sitting at your desk motivating yourself to just get through until an appropriate time to go have a coffee. We, people, like to have something to look forward too.
And we like to have things to remember. Special things. Like weddings and the arrival of babies and that once in a decade holiday and that first big business trip and the time you went with your two best friends to see your first Test match.

Looking forward, and looking back are such important avenues for connection for marketers. Of course, you are probably aware of that. The whole selfie phenomenon of the last ten years and the ability to share special occasions on digital social platforms is something I am sure all good marketers have tried to leverage. But let’s think a little deeper. All special events, whether the annual or the daily are ways in which we create news for ourselves. We use them to set goals and soften out the ordinariness of the everyday. And we do it in five stages :

Stage 1 The Planning: the time you spend thinking about, gathering information, making a decision. As in a holiday when you might take weeks or months to get everything booked. Or buying a car and taking months to decide on what you want, where to buy it etc.
And then you do book, decide, make up your mind. Which leads to …

Stage 2 The Tension: or the period between making the decision and actually getting there. Like when you and friends have bought the tickets to that new movie and you have 5 days of waiting, sharing expectations, getting excited, thinking about whether you will have dinner afterward, where, what will you wear.
Of course, there is …

Stage 3 The Thing Itself: that time you spend doing the thing you were sooooo looking forward to. That lunch with the guy from the office you had planned since yesterday. Or the actual boarding a plane, traveling, having your overseas meetings, enjoying a different city, flying home.
But then …

Stage 4 The Review: that first period after the event when you are either reviewing yourself or more likely letting others know what you thought. “ I am sharing my photos of our great lunch ” or the Monday morning gossip about what a terrible time you had on that date, how to let down you were by Manchester United’s performance, how you found a great new ice cream shop.
This will last an hour, a day maybe a week for a holiday. And then it becomes less immediate. But something else becomes important…

Stage 5 The Memory: the period that could go on for days, weeks, months when you look back and wish you could do it again. The times you occasionally drag out your FB memories to distract you again. The times you look at the guy at the next desk and say “ hey remember when we went out after work a few weeks ago, want to do that again? ”

Most marketers do a good job of stage 1. It’s obvious. Get people interested and excited and help them plan a purchase, an event, a special occasion, a coffee break. And of course, most marketers do a good job of stage 3, the delivery of the event, the product, the service. Few pay any attention to stage 2, the time between decision and payment and delivery. And yet that is perhaps the time people are most involved. They have made a decision and paid the tickets, ordered the product, are waiting, counting down the minutes, hours, days till they can collect. That is the time when marketers need to really strike. Build on that expectation, offer extra services, create opportunities for more memories.

And as for stages 4 and 5 … well sending a follow-up survey asking “ please tell us about our service ” does not count. Instead think about how and what you can do to help people share their review, enhance their review. And then as time passes think about how you can help re-live the memory. Not sell more, just help remind people of the great experience. Do that and they will come back to you for more.

Use all these stages as tactical guidelines and make sure they are all part of a strategy built on what people want. Do not ask them to rate you, share you, talk about you. Help them plan, feel the excited tension, have a great experience, create great reviews of their good time ( not you ) and keep building memories. Then you will be helping them live lives they enjoy.

Marketing Futures is an Initiative of Ideamax Creatives Limited

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