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« 1840s democracy | Main | That moment »

The expectation paradox

So, people are upset because of the non-ending of the Sopranos. People are always upset when a TV show ends with a big finale, because it never meets the hype, never meets the expectations. If HBO had been quiet about it, hadn't done the full page ads and the radio shows and the newspaper articles, it would have been fine. Expanded expectations led to big disappointment.

The paradox: if expectations hadn't been raised, fewer viewers would have tuned in.

My main site has been down off and on over the last few weeks. I apologize to those of you who have been frustrated by this. My expectations of web.com were fairly high--I thought that after all the years I'd been using the company they acquired, they'd do a better job. I was disappointed. We're moving on.

I visited webex today to prepare for a web conference I'm doing in a few weeks. Again, lots of high expectations (big company, lots of promotional effort) and was amazed to see a workaround about Firefox on the screen. The workaround didn't work. I was even more amazed to discover that the version I was using doesn't even bother to support the Mac.

I'm not one of those Mac whiners who say that everyone has to support my little boutique OS. If they had lowered expectations by clearly stating the incompatibility in the first moment, I wouldn't have been happy, of course, but at least I wouldn't have sat there for ten minutes, blaming myself for not understanding it.

In each case, the paradox is at work. On one hand, you want to raise expectations, because without doing that, you diminish trial. On the other hand, you want to exceed expectations, because that's what generates word of mouth.

As word of mouth becomes an ever more important component of marketing, the scales are tipping. Undersell, overdeliver. It's the strategy that works in the long run.

Every marketer has a choice... to make the first interaction the best of the experience, or the worst (least best).

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The expectation paradox:

» Set your expectaions up front. from Master the Business
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» Exceeding Expectations from The Agitator
Most nonprofit marketers -- especially direct marketers -- operate in a culture of hype ... hyping fear, anger or suffering; hyping urgency; hyping new solutions to persistent age-old problems. Some believe that such hype (though we wouldn't [Read More]

» What happens to Tony Soprano? You tell me ... from Three Minds @ Organic
Adotas reports that fans were so disappointed by the abrupt blank screen ending to the final episode of the Sopranos last night that their hate traffic brought the HBO web site down for an extended period of time.Im your classic... [Read More]

» Focus on What You Know from ModernMagellans
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» Great art and the art of great service from thinks
I started my career in show business, which also means I waited tables a fair bit. I learned valuable lessons from each about satisfying customers. Entertainment audiences want to be surprised. They want to see something theyve never seen be... [Read More]

» Exceeding Expectations from The Agitator
Most nonprofit marketers -- especially direct marketers -- operate in a culture of hype ... hyping fear, anger or suffering; hyping urgency; hyping new solutions to persistent age-old problems. Some believe that such hype (though we wouldn't [Read More]

» Managing Expectations from ReadyTalk Blog
Seth Godin has a great post about the expectation paradox. Quite simply, he states, that while you want to raise expectations, you also do not want to fail to live up to those expectations. It is a double edged sword. While his post is informative, it ... [Read More]

» undersell, overdeliver from mad housewife
Thats from Seth Godin. I love the way marketers are teaching each other basic decent behaviours these days. Underselling is just modesty, a virtue which is due for more revival. A modest person is just calm, unassumi... [Read More]

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» Seth, on the ending of Sopranos and expectations from Daptivate > by Kyle Beyer
In The Expectation Paradox , Seth Godin writes: As word of mouth becomes an ever more important component [Read More]

» Seth, on the ending of Sopranos and expectations from Daptivate > by Kyle Beyer
In The Expectation Paradox , Seth Godin writes: As word of mouth becomes an ever more important [Read More]

» Seth, on the ending of Sopranos and expectations from Kyle Beyer
In The Expectation Paradox , Seth Godin writes: As word of mouth becomes an ever more important [Read More]

« 1840s democracy | Main | That moment »