“Beyond Expectations”

We live in very dynamic environments these days. Come to think of it – each moment of our existence and each activity that we do within those moments, are faster than experienced 10 years ago! Like it or not, our action and reaction times have come to be weighed in nano-seconds! Instant call receiving, responding and forwarding, instant sending and receiving text messages, instant responding browsing and responding on internet and esp. on social media platforms,  instant delivery and service expectations for all the products and services we buy, etc. are just a few examples.

This “nanosecond existence” could be attributed to drastic impact of technology on our lives in the last few years. As a result perhaps, our general attitudes and expectations from life has changed too. We tend to expect “more” in terms of speed, efficiencies, rewards, conversions, etc. Our gadgets continue to deliver better by each passing quarter, exceeding our expectations. Newer silicon chips continue to offer more than you’d perhaps need within your lifetime! Newer cameras offer more megapixel, newer phone models offer more speed, more features, more connectivity options, and what not!

Not surprisingly therefore, we too have come to expect more and more of everything, every time –  something that goes beyond our expectations – so that we’re comfortable in exclaiming “It’s awesome bro!” or “It’s fabulous dude!” or “It’s incredible pal!” or “It’s phenomenal, gal!”. A cursory attention to the conversation of young people , would give you these phrases in abundance.

Likewise, perhaps some of our institutions have also followed suit. Even though it’s not a very new phrase that you hear from them, yet all the regular institutions – schools, colleges, business houses, manufacturing units, marketing firms, etc. have caught on to this more virulently than ever – asking for “instant”; asking for “more”! You would listen to some oft-repeated clichéd phrases frequently in these places:

  • “We want your child to exceed our expectations…”
  • “Your son need to break all records…”
  • “We expect this year’s growth to exceed all records….”
  • “The production must outshine the averages of the past 8 months…”
  • “We must see this launch breaking all past product launches…”
  • “Your sales team’s performance must exceed our expectations…”

No wonder that the hiring process in these institutions too should speak the same language! It’s very common to see the online and offline recruitment postings clearly seek out profiles that look for preferably “extremely talented” or “extremely smart and outgoing” or “ready to exceed target expectations” or “ready to outperform market trends” etc. etc.

One common reason given by Economics pundits for this kind of “more” and “instant” expectations is “growth”. It’s true that we definitely need to keep moving forward, and only thing that seems to keep the momentum intact, is to keep on expecting more each time, and that too faster! In some ways, that’s a natural phenomenon!

However, shouldn’t there be a corollary too? Shouldn’t there be reverse expectations in each sector and scenarios we mentioned above? How many times have we heard a school management telling the parents:

“We don’t expect anything from you; we’d  ensure the best possible ways to transform your child!”

How many times (except in fiction and films) have we heard the companies say:

  • “We’d make sure that you exceed your career expectations here” or
  • “Don’t worry, our offer will exceed your expectations” or
  • “We have exceeded your service expectations”

I’m sure very few of the readers would find these answers practical, because our whole system and existence patterns have been scripted to “expect more” and “promise less”. That’s one way traffic! A customer cannot keep on expecting more and more instantly, unless and until he/she is ready to pay more! Similarly, one cannot keep on expecting more out of any person or service unless there’s a reverse promise too.

Further, this very script goes beyond the laws of nature. If one expects to draw out more and more from a farm-land and that too faster, one has to offer fodder, fertilizer and improvements in farming methods. Likewise, if any company or institution wishes to expect something beyond expectations, then it also needs to first make sure that it’s ready to shell-out something equal in exchange. For example, when a company offers a package that’s little beyond the candidate’s expectations, a reverse process triggers in within the candidate, which encourages him to give out that extra effort every time.

Even the new social media, which has become an inseparable part of our lives, too follows the nature’s democratic laws. Unless one gives in form of “LIKEs”, “Shares” or “Comments” upon any content produced by a fellow user, one cannot build long-term credibility and followers online. One needs to genuinely offer comments, encouragements, references and help first, before one gets reciprocated. This behaviour cuts across people, groups, companies and institutions too.

The future businesses will be increasingly dependent on technology and its characteristics – especially in form of speed, flexibility, quality and quantity expectations of the people who would run them. These people are the ones who have grown with these characteristics, and as such would deliver better when get something first before giving something more in return!

Therefore the next time you come across a situation where you’re on the tip of demanding something beyond ordinary, pause and do your best to first offer something that’s simply beyond the receiver’s expectations – even if it’s just a small honest promise!

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How to measure effectiveness against ad sizes?

  • How do you measure the effectiveness of a print ad – in terms of sizes? I’ve looked at both Nielsen and Gartner for this data, to no avail. I’m hoping that my fellow networkers can shed some light on this topic. If a Client elects to shift from running one full-page print ad to running three separate quarter page ads, repeatedly, what type of results would this typically yield? Question by: Carson Hornsby

An interesting question indeed, and till today I’m yet to find some formally researched numbers or formula that establishes the ad-size to campaign-effectiveness. However, any advertising specialist or media strategist would tell you that the rule of the thumb is: “Make Impact with Size; Gain recall with frequency“.

Following the simplest of communication processes, AIDA (Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action), when any new campaign is launched for the first time, the primary media objective is to first draw attention and impact among the defined target audience for the campaign. Unless attention is drawn memorably, it’s more likely that the Interest in the campaign messages will not be developed.

Therefore, every campaign – whether print type or multimedia type – usually is launched with a bang, drawing attention among the target audience and more! In Print, the IMPACT is ensured through bigger sizes, teasers before the launch day, special operations (covers, peep-ins, or any other means) or a combination of 2-3 modes together.

Next, it’s important to generate and retain interest. Part of this objective is met if the launch ad is impactful. However it’s necessary to sustain the interest level for some time, in order to develop desire. Ways to sustain interest are – interesting creative in terms of copy, visual, delivering same messages in different modes and formats, engaging the audience, etc.

In most cases, due to the shortage of time or money, agencies / advertisers are unable to test out campaign creatives among test audience before release or engage audience in other ways and in other media. Therefore the next best method – that of repeating the same messages in the media – ensures recall plus generates interest in the advertised product / brand.

However due to high media costs in almost every market, multiple repeats are possible only if the ad sizes are reduced in such a way that optimum sizes are maintained to have the repeats throughout the campaign period.

Now to answer your question, assuming your creatives are okay, the campaign effectiveness will surely depend upon impact and recall.

Assuming that you have sufficient budgets, you need to have bigger size print ads for IMPACT – at least during the launch stage. For RECALL, you need to increase the “Opportunity to See” or more simply the frequency of the ads – preferably in reduced sizes, to save on budgets.

However, if your budgets are limited, you should aim to have more frequency through smaller sizes, since it has been proved in the past that even below-average messages get well registered and recalled if they are hammered again and again. In such a case, the IMPACT of the campaign is actually developed by the sheer power of repeats – even if slowly, and definitely, by huge numbers that run for months.

In case you’re forced by a situation to run either one-ad or a 3-ad campaign within the same budget, you should be successful if you go in for the latter, since this would ensure the minimum frequency* required for recall – however small! But then the frequency gained at the cost of minimum size further can also affect the campaign by its noticeability, as well as affect brand image adversely.

*It has been proven by research that 1st insertion of an ad gives impression, 2nd gives registration while the 3rd one gives recall.

(Also Look for Other answers; Also posted as a link under Answers@LinkedIn page)

The Shibumi 7 of Social Media Marketing

Many a social media campaign we see today is either riding on the hype and traffic created by the term “social media” itself, or are in the mode of “testing the waters”.

The reason for this trend has much to do with the limited number of experts in many developing markets of the world. Experts, Specialists and best practices available in some pockets of the emerging economies – India, China, West Africa, etc. – are at best limited compared to the higher needs and demands of these markets. Additionally the social media jargons in circulation sound exciting, but are unable to help meet the simplest of social media requirements of many of the companies operating in these markets.

Social Media strategy for any campaign need not be complicated in design or delivery. Like many other highly successful offline campaigns of the past, online campaigns in general and social media campaigns in particular, could be thought of being designed and driven by the simple principles of Shibumi.

In his book “The Shibumi Strategy”, Matthew May talks about 7 of these concepts, which are a cohesive set of principles to guiding one’s pursuit of excellence, elegant performance and effortless effectiveness in any front. I feel the same concepts could be effectively applied in social media marketing too.

The 7 principles / concepts are: Shizen, Koko, Kanso, Datsuzoku, Yugen, Fukinsei and Hansei. Let’s see how these principles are universal in application in Social Media Marketing (SMM) too.

SHIZEN is the Japanese word that’s closer in meaning to “naturalness”. The idea captured by shizen for life and business is that before taking any action, one needs to look for naturally occurring patterns and rhythms, so that one’s ideas are constructed in a way to fit within these patterns.

In terms of SMM, this translates to “listening” – listen to your prospective target audience, customers and stakeholders; observe the patterns of their aspirations and needs; develop your conclusions and targets based on these needs, and design your framework for the campaign.

KOKO is the Japanese term for “austerity”. Koko suggests that one should refrain from adding what is absolutely not necessary in the first place, while imparting a sense of focus and clarity. Koko emphasizes restraint, exclusion and omission.

In social media marketing – or for that matter, in business – koko translates to setting a clear and focused “primary objective”, which is free from any kind of unnecessary distractions. Many social media campaigns tend to fail, since the marketers fail to encapsulate the core goals of the campaign properly.

KANSO is the Japanese word for “simplicity”. Kanso emphasizes elimination of anything that doesn’t matter, to make enough rooms for anything that does.

In SMM, we often need to follow the “keep it simple, stupid!” cliché to its core! To do this, Kanso principles inspire us to have the understanding to create fresher, cleaner and neater frameworks for social media marketing strategies. A simple, no-frills social media campaign usually brings in unexpected customer responses and viral benefits.

DATSUZOKU means and emphasizes “break-from-routine” or habit, which gives a feeling of unexpected amazement or pleasant surprise.

The social media landscape being extremely crowded, datsuzoku highlights the need for transcending the ordinary and conventional, to develop a tactic or a plan that makes the target groups react in an unexpectedly positive / pleasing way. Needless to say, this requires a the shizen insights of the target groups in conjunction with the seijaku of creativity – essentials for create something fresh and original.

Yugen

YUGEN means “subtlety” in Japanese, which highlights the need to limit information, so that there’s something left for vivid imagination. The principle suggests that when some things are left open for interpretation, the participant observer makes that extra effort to get involved easily by injecting his imagination into it.

Social media being an extremely changing landscape, the chances of getting a target group involved is increasingly becoming more difficult. Therefore applying Yugen principles, if there’s something left for the imagination of the target group – which is subtle & simple yet challenges their minds – it would definitely succeed in wooing their respect and attention in the long run. Examples: quizzes, polls, comments, shares, etc.

FUKINSEI is the Japanese word highlighting “imperfection” or “asymmentry”. Fukensei “conveys the symmetrical harmony and beauty of nature through clearly asymmetrical and incomplete renderings”.

In terms of SMM, Fukinsei recommends that strategies must be built around some amount of imperfections. This will leave the door open for the target groups to get involved in the marketing effort, to supply the missing symmetry and participate in the act of creation. In social media jargon, it’s known as “co-creation” – which has been proved to be extremely successful for many flourishing brands.

HANSEI means “reflection”, which is recommended after every action regularly regardless of the outcome of the action. Hansei is an active discipline performed to better understand the underlying process that led to a specific result.

In SMM as well as in business, the importance of “gap analysis” is an important part of the process. It generates constant “feedback” and insights, which helps in refining the strategy. Hansei in social media strategy is even more important since the “reflection” process is real-time and performed more frequently, as social media itself is “real-time”.

Thus we see that instead of getting lost in the complex process of understanding and then applying social media marketing strategies, all one needs to do is to apply the 7 Shibumi principles actively.

Leave your observations and experiences in applying these principles in your SMM strategies.

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