People pay to get wet

bill gates als bucket challengeMake a splash in the short-term or play for the future? In business, there is a constant tension between playing to win right now and making bets to be relevant in the future. Most focus only on the former, while innovators do both; at the same time.

This same tension exists in the sports business where GM’s must constantly evaluate their roster to build for the now and the future. But, not only are GM’s pressured to create roster wins and that lasts, they are also pressured to build a team people will pay to see.

There is a scene in the film Draft Day where Kevin Costner’s character, GM of the Cleveland Browns, is talking to the team’s owner while walking along what looks like a water park. As they get close to one of the key attractions and walk right new to a bridge where people can stand to get wet, the owner of the team tells Costner’s character that “people pay to get wet”, implying that he better make a splash in the draft.

People want to get excited, and they’ll pay to get it!

In sports, the excitement people get is seeing their favorite player or players. In business, excitement is mostly relegated to using advertising to get people excited. Tough luck because people, as simple as it sounds, want and need to get excited about how they interact with brands. It might seem like common sense, but why don’t most businesses remember this?

From my point of view, the most common emotions we feel when interacting with brands are either:

  • frustration, because we are not getting what we want when we want it, and;
  • satisfaction, because our needs were met.

Rarely will we feel genuine excitement. I can probably count the number of times I’ve been genuinely surprised and excited from a brand interaction in one hand. It’s time we change that…

Excitement is usually the product of dreamers, visionaries who want to create new and exciting worlds. Frustration and satisfaction is the result of those organizations who aim to be a little bit better and will only act differently in reaction to others.

Surprise and excitement are the result of innovation, of being in a state of awe. Innovations that matter share the same outcome: make our lives simpler and bring a smile to our face.

Bottom line: As customers, we don’t expect to be surprised and excited by every brand interaction we have. Our expectations are set by every interaction we have with the various brands we interact with, we’ll likely be moving between frustration and satisfaction. And that’s exactly why we as business leaders, entrepreneurs and managers, should aim to reset customers’ expectations. Excitement sells, and it lasts!