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Setting Expectations & Achieving Outcomes

Posted on January 01, 2014

You're still fat because you expect too much

stopeatingcake

We all know those TV diets that promise to change our lives in only thirty days - And anyone who has been daring enough to try them knows they either end in smiles or tears.  Take a guess at which is the more likely outcome…

Expectations are wonderful because they give us hope, and are not so wonderful because they can bring disappointment.  There's a distinct knack to setting effective expectations, and actually achieving a meaningful outcome.  The key to setting expectations, is knowing the failure points.  Generally, we are unrealistic when setting our expectation, and we've tied too much emotion to the expectation being met.  If you can control these variables, disappointment is no longer something we need to fear, and can actually be used to our benefit!

Setting effective expectations about your online marketing should follow the same thought process, and here are some key points to focus on:

Failure points and knowing why

Failure points are where your plan can fail, and to mitigate the risk around that occurring, you should always know your failure points upfront.  It's not a bad thing to have failure points, it is however a bad thing to have not accounted for them or not even think they exist.  Know that your marketing might not garner the traffic you want, know that you might not capture the right audience with your campaign, and be ok with that.  Knowing things might fail and knowing how to determine why is by far the best way to make the absolute most out of any marketing efforts you make.

Avoiding unrealistic (and why unrealistic always seems realistic at the time)

Before the fact, we are more often than not aspirational.  This always puts us in a more emotional state where our grips on reality become loosened (sometimes too loose).  That's why we dream about ourselves in a bikini before we've even started the diet, and we imagine a relationship with someone before we've even had a date.  As time progresses, with more information comes more clarity, and thus hindsight shows us we started off a little unrealistically.  So if we know this happens, why not avoid it from the start?  Stick to only dealing with the facts, and make sure that regardless of the outcome, the campaign will actually prove very useful (more on this later).

Avoiding emotion

When I say "avoid emotion" I am not asking you to be a sociopath, I'm asking you to think twice.  Emotion gets us caught up in the moment and that leads to bad decisions, false positives and ultimately bias our expectation.  It's not bad to get excited, online marketing can yield awesome results, but keep hype to a minimum.  That way when you get the results from your campaign you don't look at them too favourably (the more targeted a campaign is might restrict it's replicability) or too unfavourably (poor results stopping you from learning and making effective alterations).

Every outcome is a win

This is the most important part to remember, as no matter the campaign, no matter who's "fault" a failure might have been or whose fantastic idea led to it's success, there are always deep learnings to be gained from every outcome.  Make campaigns measurable and targeted, feed that information into your next campaign, and just because something failed once doesn't mean it will again (the same goes for success).  So if things are temperamental, why would anyone do online marketing?  Well it's not temperamental at all, it's a matter of finding the right ingredients and using common sense.  A fantastic Christmas SMA campaign isn't necessarily going to work for Halloween.  Much like just because you didn't get many sales from a PPC campaign at Easter that the same campaign wouldn't work fantastically at Christmas with some tweaks.

Stop scoffing cake

Proverbial cake of course - If you keep marketing (any kind) and don't just the valuable learnings you get from every outcome back into your marketing cycle, you are doomed to stay fat.  Measure, learn and tweak - It really is the only way to get fantastic results and drop those pounds.  Oh and time, time is very important - particularly for SEO.

About the Author

James Richardson

Sales Director

James Richardson started his online career by running online Sports Fan sites (luckily none are still online today), with the pinnacle of the site being a write up in the Sunday Herald Sun 'Wired' column.

His professional career began at a ASX listed company, Melbourne IT, where he held various senior roles across the Sales and Marketing teams, before deciding to venture out on his own.

Running several successful online websites and businesses himself, he is well placed at understanding your business needs.

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