If you follow Seth Godin (web marketing guru and all-round interesting ideas man) already, you’ll have seen his latest post on raising expectations:
Have you noticed how upbeat the ads for airlines and banks are?
Judging from the billboards and the newspaper ads, you might be led to believe that Delta is actually a better airline, one that cares. Or that your bank has flexible people eager to bend the rules to help you succeed.
At one level, this is good advertising, because it tells a story that resonates. We want Delta to be the airline it says it is, and so we give them a try.
The problem is this: ads like this actually decrease user satisfaction. If the ad leads to expect one thing and we don’t get it, we’re more disappointed than if we had gone in with no real expectations at all. Why this matters: if word of mouth is the real advertising, then what you’ve done is use old-school ad techniques to actually undercut any chance you have to generate new-school results.
It seemed an appropriate point today, because the book industry is guilty of this. We all like to raise expectations, to cover ourselves in hyperbole, in order to sell ourselves (as I keep saying – this is an industry). Blogging was always about word of mouth, but I wonder to what extent the blogosphere actually does that in 2011? There are giveaways, exclusives, general pimpage with spectacular regularity. There are banner ads and exclusive ARCs being handed out.
Where does word of mouth end and advertising begin? Do more considered reviews – rather than reactionary – help out more?
And then there’s the counterpoint: hype. In the past I’ve been the target of hype – some organic emergence from the blogoshpere – that has, on occasion, backfired (though I’m grateful for all coverage, of course). Word of mouth in this case has done what Seth calls ‘decreased user satisfaction’. That Nights of Villjamur isn’t the Second Coming has rather let me down, I feel.
But I guess all of this – word of mouth, advertising, reviews, hype – it’s all what makes the blogosphere a pretty interesting and lively place.