Marketing your business is like surprising your kids with a trip to Disneyland.
To have a successful surprise, you need a few things before you even leave your house.
You need to know where you're starting from, and where you're going.
Which mode of transportation will you take? A van, or a plane?
You'll want a plan for which freeway to take, and which exit to get off at.
Or which airport you'll fly from and two, and you'll need to line up ground transportation like a rental car or an Uber.
It helps to purchase the tickets for everything beforehand, so you don't get stranded if there aren't enough seats on the plane, rental cars big enough to fit your family, or if the park is sold out for the day.
If you're driving, you want to fill up the car with gas and plan out where you'll stop to refuel - both the car and your family with food.
Oh, and don't forget pit stops for bathroom breaks!
Will you leave in the morning or at night? How many days will you spend at the park? How much is going to cost, and do you have enough in your bank account to cover the cost of everything for the trip - even the unexpected things?
Then, one of the biggest decisions of all:
Do you tell your kids before you leave, during the trip, or let them discover the destination when you get there?
I'm a big fan of surprises. I took my kids to Carlsbad, CA during spring break and surprised them with a trip to Legoland, and they didn't realize where we were until we pulled up to the gate!
(They lost it. It was amazing.)
There's one big reason why marketing your business is like surprising your kids with a trip to the "happiest place on Earth".
You know where you're going, and they don't.
The magic, if you will, of marketing lies in this reality.
You know something that they don't.
You have knowledge of a world that's completely different than anything else they've experienced in their lives. Experience for how to get there, the steps to take, the preparation, the cost, and the smoothest way to get into that park to experience your favorite ride.
(Indiana Jones, anyone?)
Depending on when you reveal the surprise, you create tension, which is one of the most important things you can do in your marketing.
I've learned this principle from André Chaperon and Shawn Twing from Tiny Little Businesses, and I'm passing that wisdom on to you.
Think about it for a minute:
What happens when you tell your kids you're going on a surprise road trip?
"Where are we going?!"
"How long will it take to get there?!"
"Can you give us a hint??!!"
Immediately you create a scenario where they want to know what the surprise is. There's now tension between what they know (where they are right this minute) and what they don't know (where they're going, when they'll arrive, anything!!!).
What if you tell them that you're going to Disneyland? Does it spoil the surprise?
And the reason is that it still creates tension.
They start building up anticipation for the trip. The planning, the traveling, the experience.
And you get to choose what kind of tension you want them to experience.
The same with your audience and your business.
Substitute "Disneyland" for a different destination that you help people arrive at in their own lives.
Your business is the vehicle - the plane or van or rental car.
The tension you create is your offer, which is delivered to your intended audience through your marketing.
What you're essentially telling people is that there is this magical world of wonder and joy that lies on the other side of a few steps - planning, preparation, purchasing tickets, and making the journey while avoiding the pitfalls (flat tires, missed connecting flights, or kids that missed their nap times).
You know the journey well, so your audience is trusting you to help them get to their destination just as your kids would trust you to get them to Disneyland.
The more tension you can create in your marketing and your offer, the more people will be excited to join you on the journey, and trust you to help them get to where they want to go.
Think about the destination that would most excite your audience, then help them get there, surprising them in ways that only you can with your business and your marketing.