THE BLOG

The Most Powerful Force in Successful Advertising Campaigns

05/28/2015 07:29 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2016

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Think of the last special vacation you booked. I can bet from the moment you booked the trip to the moment the plane took off (or the city faded into the distance or the ship set sail), the anticipation of the trip had an ongoing and profound impact on your daily happiness.

Knowing awesomeness is around the corner is one on the best buffers against the daily grind.

Before the trip, I bet your entire inner circle heard all the details of your trip as you shared your excitement with a big smile on your face. You were a happy ambassador, endorsing a brand before you even had a chance to experience it.

Consider the power in that--people who love you before they've even had a chance to know you! Anticipation is one of the most powerful forces in effective marketing and advertising strategies.

It's the reason there is a long line outside the hottest nightclubs while inside there is plenty of space. It's the reason we pre-order the Apple Watch rather than just walk in the store to pick it up. It's the reason Krispy Creme puts a light-up sign on their door when their donuts are fresh. It's the reason there are only a limited number of the newest Nike kicks on the shelf.

Whether the anticipation is real or a carefully designed advertising construct, we as consumers eat it up.

There are three primary ingredients to building anticipation: low supply, high demand, and some kind of an advance commitment--some moment of "waiting." I'm not talking about creative word-smithing or witty ad slicks. This is about being organizationally patient and strategic in telling a brand story.

Creating then bottling anticipation isn't easy. A focused effort on creating true anticipation is not often front and center in the marketing conversation. A heavy advertising spend or pop-up activations might build awareness but that's a fundamentally different objective than building anticipation. True anticipation drives action in a way that awareness does not.

Want to build anticipation? Consider these three core pillars:

Incentivize Early Commitment
Do everything in your power to incentivize early commitment from consumers. Offer discounts, private access, rewards for loyalty. As savvy marketers, we know the sooner someone has committed, the more time they have to advocate on our behalf. As consumers become more time-strapped than ever before, people are naturally waiting to commit their calendars with a purchase.

But, the right incentive could change that. Smart marketers are considering the actual value of the anticipation impressions in their budget process. Though you might forego revenue in the short term, the added anticipation impressions could actually save money down the line: Discount (or otherwise incentivize) now, maximize anticipation, and then save on paid media later.

Make Anticipation Part of the Experience
Develop a content and communications plan which captures the excitement and anticipation that is swirling around the launch of your product or service. Showcase the growing demand and excitement you have brewing. The "special" ones who have already committed should feel very special (and smart) for buying well in advance. If done right, this fuels word of mouth among the committed.

Celebrate
There is no better way to demonstrate demand than by showing it (literally). Don't be shy! Bang the drum of your success by hyping the excitement of the people at your store, online, or in the media. I've worked with some incredible brands who have mastered the skills of gaining anticipation. Watching consumers respond at their moment of engagement with the brand is a magical moment. Capture it and share it and many more will follow. People want to be part of something special and will often follow others to do the same.

In the end, great anticipation comes with great expectation. If you deliver a great brand experience, the power of anticipation very well may be the best fuel you can count on for success.