The 5 Phases of Surprises in Marketing Initiatives

I continue to read that Bob book and it again has an analogy which rings true for marketing professionals, the 5 Stages of Surprises.  I’ve of course re-labeled it like a good [tag]marketer[/tag].   No such thing as a new idea – just new packaging.  The trick is remembering it at the right time.

The 5 stages of Market Initiative Surprises typically apply to both the good surprise and the bad surprise.  If you get a crazy good response rate and [tag]ROI[/tag] or the opposite, no ROI, either way the phases are applicable – I think.  So what are the phases?  Confusion, Anger, Denial, Rejection and Oh Well. 

These stages only apply to successes, if you in fact acknowledge you are not the alpha and the omega of all things known to marketing.  If you are the alpha marketer, then maybe not, but as an average Joe who is typically surprised by the wildly successful and the not successful intiative – I think it works.  I’m in the “Marketing is a science with a good deal of art infused camp”.  So let’s understand the phases:

Confusion: You launch something out to the market and start getting confusing responses.  A confusing response could be a series of inbound inquiries which are off topic, a high volume of response or just no responses.
Anger: So anger comes on both sides.  You get angry on a successful initiative because it becomes a “why haven’t I thought of this before?” situation.  As for a not so good initiative, you become angry because you just don’t understand the limited uptake – I mean it was a GOOD idea after all with a compelling message.

Denial:  Denial only works on a successful campaign if you understand that every idea can’t be wonderful or a hit.  It’s easy to understand the denial on a negative campaign or outreach initiative.  Admittedly – this is a short phase in the good initiative.

Rejection:  There has to be something wrong with the metrics in either scenario.  So you wait it out a little.
Oh Well:  This is the final stage and it basically is the “Hey this thing worked” or “This thing didn’t work”.  For the final stage to add value, this is where you have to acknowledge the outcome in earnest and learn from the activity.  Either way, this is also the rationalization phase and where you create the story of the initiative, since you now know where it is landing and what you need to do.

The timeline for each phase depends on the the level of trust in your processes, organizational resources and systems.  The denial and rejection phases get bloated if you have limited trust in the infrastructure (people, processes and technology).  It is possible that this look at the  5 phases of surprises may not be correct, I’m just going to wait the metrics out on this post and see if I get surprised.

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