The Amusement Park School of Expectations Management: The secret to improving your marketing agency’s reputation

Written by: Karl Sakas

This is an excerpt from my eBook on client expectations management: Don’t Just Make the Logo Bigger: Taking Clients from Painful to Profitable. Want your own free copy? Sign up for the Sakas & Company email newsletter and get a PDF copy, instantly.

Maybe you’re thinking that good client expectations management sounds great—but that your agency’s clients won’t go for it.

The truth is actually the opposite. Good expectations management will improve your agency’s reputation, by improving your clients’ perception of your agency.

Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you went to the doctor.

Is working with your agency like visiting an amusement park… or going to the doctor?

Your last doctor’s appointment probably looked something like this:

Don't manage expectations poorly like a doctor's office

Like a poorly-run marketing agency, doctors’ offices do a bad job managing expectations.

You arrive on time, just to sit in the waiting room for anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour. Then a nurse finally calls your name and shows you from the waiting to an exam room. She takes your vitals and then tells you the doctor will “be right with you.”

Then you wait.

Most of the time you wait at least another 10-30 minutes before the doctor actually comes in to see you—sometimes it’s much longer. By then you’re probably feeling a bit impatient and possibly even irritated; but you also feel helpless. After all, that’s how it is throughout the industry. What can you do about it?

No wonder so many people dread going to the doctor! On top of your being sick, the customer service is worse than your lingering cough or inexplicable rash.

Amusement parks don’t keep you guessing while you’re waiting in the roller coaster line

Marketing agencies should manage expectations like amusement parks

Like a well-run marketing agency, amusement parks do a good job managing expectations.

By comparison, think about your last visit to an amusement park. You probably did an awful lot of waiting—probably even more than at the doctor—but still managed to have a really good time. The reason?

Amusement parks are a lot better at managing expectations than doctors are. (Plus they have roller coasters.)

Rather than put the real wait time on the signs that you pass in line, they add time so you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you make it to the front of the line sooner than anticipated. When the sign says “20 minutes from here,” they know it’s really just 15 minutes from there.

Applying this at your marketing agency: Under-promise, then over-deliver

Your goal as an agency is to be like the amusement park—create an excellent client experience, one that clients remember positively, by properly managing expectations… expectations that create an opportunity for you to exceed them. Remember, no one wants roller coasters in a business relationship.

This is an excerpt from my eBook on client expectations management. Get your free copy when you sign up for the Sakas & Company email newsletter.

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