Make ’em wait to see your turtle

Turtle I’m in Kansas City tonight because I am facilitating a board of directors retreat (for Variety the Children’s Charity) tomorrow.  So…I’m sitting down in the hotel bar people watching and eavesdropping while I wait for a business colleague.  (I know it’s rude but it’s one of my many flaws!)  Two twenty-something women are at the bar, talking loudly. 

Clearly the first twenty-something has brought her new boyfriend (he’s stepped away for a moment) to the bar to meet her friend.  As soon as he walks away, she declares (quite loudly, in my defense) "He finally let me meet his turtle.  I’ve been waiting for weeks!"  (Admit it, you would have perked up at hearing that too!)  Her friend responds enthusiastically about the meeting.  Eventually, they discuss how cool it is that he has an exotic pet, etc. etc.

(Stay with me, there’s a marketing message in here somewhere.)

Her boyfriend, whether he knows it or not, has the makings of a marketing genius.  He understands the power of anticipation.  All too often, marketers work so hard to get a prospect’s attention that when they do get it — they panic and data dump.  It might be the only time they get to share the information, so they’d better tell the prospect everything.  Right?

Wrong.  That’s why we see ads that have no white space and your eyes surrender before they get past the first sentence.  It’s why we have brochures packed with text and no visuals.  And why some web sites are so difficult to navigate.  Too much, too soon.

If you try to tell them everything all at once, first you probably have a terrible execution.  But even deeper than that — if you tell them everything, why do they need to contact you to learn more?  You are telling a story.  Take advantage of the power of anticipation and curiosity.  Let them build a little.

Repeat after me…make ’em wait to see your turtle.

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