We all live in anticipation of something, the next episode, the next cup, the next job, the next client, the next follower. Anticipation is one of the more unusual emotions we can have. It plays delicately along the line of pleasure and pain. It can consume, and even overwhelm us until we just can’t wait anymore. The time between then and now can feel excruciating and delicious. Anticipation is what our brains experience when music gives us goose bumps.

The reality is that anticipation can register in our brain as pleasure or pain. Anticipation is often what we try to build when we are promoting an idea or selling a product. We want our audience to long for the outcome or object we have in mind. We want to have them focused on receiving or achieving that objective so that they can experience the relief of having it. Or, and this is the clever bit, by having to wait, by building anticipation, we can also engender our object with value. By building anticipation we tap into a mindset that says, good things come to those who wait.

When Clairol introduced a new conditioner in the 1970s they directed women to let the product stand in their hair for 30 minutes. The conditioner only took five minutes to work, but that was inconsistent with what happened when women went to salons, so the extra 25 minutes was added to give to product more appeal, more value. For those of you who enjoy a good beer, you may be familiar with some of the anticipation that comes with having a Guinness. Pouring a Guinness is an act of patience. It takes time for the dark liquid to settle and the creamy foam to move to the top and then you pour again. Rather than make excuses or take away from one of the things that make Guinness unique, the advertising played on the anticipation. Take look.

Of course, there are those products that extoll the virtues of anticipation, Heinz Ketchup is one of the more notable. Who in North America hasn’t waited patiently for the ketchup to make an appearance?

Anticipation is one of the most difficult parts of my job. From conception to completion of a communication’s campaign can take months if not years. Throughout, anticipation has to be fed and managed. It’s not enough to stay silent and wait until everything is in place, in fact, in order for adoption to work; anticipation has to be part of the communications activity.   When you’re promoting an idea, it is critical that you take the time to build on awareness. Ideas are amorphous creatures. They can be hard to visualize and even more difficult to understand and support. Adoption requires patience and timing. If you build too much anticipation you can cause a good idea to fall flat. If you move before your audience is ready, you can fail as badly as if you had introduced your idea too late. The business world is full of great ideas that were launched too soon. I can’t imagine the frustration of having someone take your idea and be completely successful where you failed and all because they had the patience to wait. This happened to, the forerunner to Facebook and Ask Jeeves, the forerunner to Google.

Whether I’m preparing an organization for significant process changes or new benefits, I know I have to carefully feed information. I also have to manage the most difficult part of the process, my own anticipation. I have to keep it in check even as I start to feed elements of the change. It’s a slow process, but adoption of new ideas is not the work of a moment.   I love what I do for a living, it calls on my imagination and challenges my mind, but oh… the anticipation.

What about you? What have you anticipated? What have you had to be patient about in your life?

Image courtesy of olovedog and FreeDigital

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0 responses to “Anticipation

  • Hi debra; thanks for sharing; yes i remember those ketchup commercials and their theme song. smile and it seems like i am always waiting. often some of the things i do to promote my site are half measures because i just get tired of waiting. two things i’d love to have is a driver and a social media ambassador. as a blind blogger and business owner and not being able to drive and not living in a cit with extensive mass transit; I’d love a driver. the social media has to do with the fact that many of the networks are not easily accessible using a screen reader. right now i’m having to hold myself back because I can almost taste the beginning of on location shows for my youtube channel. thanks for sharing and take care, Max

  • Not only do I anticipate every Sunday to blog and post to the group on Linkedin, i anticipate my future for I know its greater than my now. I see you are a Guiness lady lol. The way you describe it there. Personally I think once your anticipation dies you are as good as dead yourself.

  • Love the idea of this post. Right now my anticipation is focused on selling my current apartment (which just went on the market) and buying another, smaller apartment on the other side of town. My anticipation is also couple with anxiety which I think is often the case. You’re hoping your anticipation precedes a happy outcome.

    • Ugh! Can anything be more daunting than moving?! It’s exciting to be in a new place and you look forward to AFTER the move, but negotiating a sale and protecting your stuff during a move are not that much fun. Definitely both sides of anticipation at work.

  • At the moment I am anticipating about my summer holidays. I feel my energy level is very low and I really need break. It is really nice post as anticipation is integral part of our lives. I liked the advertisement of ketchup…. My daughter is fond of ketchup and she started shouting to make burger :).
    I am also anticipating my new job…. But I have never thought about anticipation from this angle. It is really a nice post.
    Thank you for sharing. I really want to be patient about many things in my life.

  • Hi Debra
    Right now I’m in the process of putting together a book re herb projects and I am getting impatient. This post about anticipation and waiting for the right time actually came at the right time for me. I know I need to take some more time before its ready to go and I shouldn’t rush it.
    Thanks Debra

  • Anticipation is an integral part of any successful business, I feel! But only a few can actually anticipate perfectly!
    I liked your beer example! I could relate myself with it! It is because after working hard for days on this technique, now i can finally do it…hehehe!

    • My husband is a fan of that beer and I’ve watched the process a few times and thought, now there is a company that understands their product and brand and makes no apologies.

  • The best is the anticipation of a holiday, but you need to make sure the anticipation is not better than the real thing 🙂

  • I to have never thought of anticipation from a marketing angle before. However I can totally see why it is an important component. For me, waiting for the ketchup to flow out of the bottle is just too much to deal with.

  • It’s sometimes hard for me to be patient, which I’m still learning to work with. I recently announced my 1st pregnancy and now I have TONS Of anticipation awaiting the baby’s arrival. I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. I’m really looking forward to this next stage of my life. I loved this post so thanks so much for it.

    • Congratulations!! What fun, there is nothing like anticipating your first baby…or any baby for that matter, 🙂 but the first really does have a crazy level of anticipation.

  • What a great post. Sometimes I want to “show my hand” and lay it all out on the table. It’s more of an internal anticipation as I lay the groundwork to make sure I’m ready for a “reveal”.

    • I know that feeling, when you’re doing good work you just want to say, “Look at this! Look at this, it’s really good!” The thing is, more often than not, the slow reveal means people actually get to digest what’s going on.

  • Recently, my parents adopted two new cats. I had chosen both from a website and really fell in love with the little one, Midge. She’s so cute! The night before they were scheduled to arrive was one of the longest ones in my life! I was counting down the hours until my new “baby” and I met!

    FYI, she is my cat now. 🙂

  • There are not many things that we have to wait on now. Technology has made us want things instantly. I loved the point about the hair conditioner.

    In our line of work, being able to anticipate the needs of our readers/shoppers is something we all need to become experts on.

  • I’ve had to be patient about just about everything because I am not a patient person!! My daughters’ adoptions – one was only 9 months, the other 15 months of waiting and another 5 weeks stuck in Kazakhstan waiting to get her final papers. My businesses, i.e. when will I make it big? That is an ongoing one. My mom, diagnosed with a fatal disease 17 months ago – told she had 3 months and is still going strong. So much, but, I am in a 12-step program which preaches “one day at a time” and that helps tremendously. Nice post, I enjoyed all the commercials (I’m dating myself remembering that Heinz one!)

  • First of all I love the photo. It’s perfect! Anticipation can be positive or negative in nature. We are currently doing some remodeling in our home. Anticipation of the finished project puts a smile on my face.

    • Thanks Cheryl, I thought he was perfect.

      Ugh…don’t remind me of anticipating the outcome of a remodel. During our renovations I practically had to chant, “good things come to those who wait” to stop me from going mad.

  • I am in a place right now where I’m overwhelmed with anticipation. I plan on making a big move soon and my current situation has been stressful but it makes me want this goal even more. Anticipation is good but I am trying not to stress myself out with it.

  • I spent a good deal of my time anticipating my next trip, whether it be a quick weekend jaunt or the upcoming two-week trip to Oktoberfest. The planning of a trip is often the best part in many ways. On other fronts, anticipation does teach patience like nothing else can. I didn’t get everything that I wanted growing up, and it made a big difference in how I went about a lot of pursuits in my life, such as education. Even today, if I think I want something badly, I make myself wait before I make a bigger purchase. If I continue to anticipate its presence, that’s a good indicator it means something to me. If I forget about it in a day or two, that speaks for itself.

    • I’m in the exact same head space about trips. Whether I’m taking a business trip or a family holiday I start to anticipate all aspects of it.

      I like your approach to getting things. I am amazed at how easily some things can move from the “must have it” to the, “what was it?” category simply by waiting a bit.

  • valerieremymilora says:
    April 9, 2014 @ 08:13 pm

    So much wisdom in this post! One of the things I look forward to the most is my Friday afternoon aerial fitness class! It’s so freeing, empowering and makes me feel awesome. Right now my just turned seven year old is eagerly anticipating this weekend when she will be getting her ears pieced! She has been waiting close to a year for this and is jumping with excitement.. Building up the anticipation for a project or a special day with one of my girls is definitely one of my favorite things to do 🙂

  • I know this is going to look bad so, first, I want to say it has nothing to do with the love I feel for my husband. That said, I wait patiently every work day for my husband to head off for his job. I’m a loner and an introvert. I treasure the time when I’m completely alone so that I can get the housework done, work on my writing project, and read. I spend my hours from the time I get up to 2:30pm (he works 2nd shift) with this feeling of anticipation.

    • Hahahhahahahhahahhha, beautiful! I worked from home yesterday, I couldn’t get my family out of the house fast enough. I love them, but sometimes I love the peace of working on my own.

  • crystalzakrison says:
    April 8, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

    Debra, this was a fabulous article. I always want to jump the gun and sprint rather then run the marathon. I know I need to be patient with certain things in my life. I am working on it. Progress not perfection right? =) Thanks for the lovely reminder. =)

  • It’s bizarre how one word can run a whole gamut of emotions. In the workplace it is definitely the same mix of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. But anticipating the market -whatever that market is – is key to being on top of your game. If we all had a crystal ball…but then how dull life would be without the unknown to anticipate. As always an interesting post Debra. Thank you

    • Anticipation is definitely a conversation starter. It’s funny, the post popped into my head because I was curious to know whether anticipation was experienced by your brain as pain or pleasure.

  • What an amazing way to look at anticipation in terms of the market place. Particularly today when the rush to market in order to beat the competition is so fervent. Nowhere is this more evident than in technology where software is released with 2-6 “patches” right behind it. But consumers seem to tolerate it…particularly the ones with an appetite for the latest and greatest!

    • Great point. Technology introduced the concept of faster and then we foolishly decided that faster was synonymous with better. That may be the case with download speed, but is rarely true for most things in life. 🙂

  • jbutler1914 says:
    April 8, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

    The question for me should be “What am I not anticipating?” There is so many things happening right now. They range from new job, website grow, ebook deadlines and trips. I am patient though.

  • The word antici(say it)pation. Always makes me think of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Tim Curry in drag.

    This is a fine line to walk, sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail.

    I remember ask jeeves. I liked the ability to write a sentence for my web search. Sure we can do this still now but when that search engine came about it was unheard of.

    • Hahahahhaha…oh man, Rocky Horror took up waaaay too many of my evenings when I was in my late teens. I wish I had thought of it for this post. What a great opener…”I see you shiver with….” 🙂

  • You know Debra anticipation is something we all build up for even the most trivial things like going to the supermarket. We have in our mind a picture of what it will be like. A major reason for that is that our brains are not able to think of nothing. So it keeps on creating all kinds of scenarios to stimulate itself.

    Maybe the most interesting thing about anticipation is that events seldom happen the way you anticipate. That doesn’t mean it turns out better of worse, simply different. Your mother didn’t open the door, but your father did, for instance.

    Here’s another aspect of the kind of anticipation you wrote about: L’Oreal was fined by the authorities in Sweden for stating that their facial creams remove wrinkels. But L’Oreal keeps on spreading that message combined with a picture of a beautiful woman. And it works because many women anticipate less wrinkels andhence imagine that they are getting a much smoother skin when they use those creams.

    • Isn’t it funny that despite the fact that we rarely have events match up to expectations we continue to anticipate? The pleasure or relief that must follow when we’re right must simply be irresistible. 🙂

  • Arleen says:
    April 8, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    Great article and I remembered those ads, which is scary. Carly Simon made a hit with her song Anticipation. Even the phrase” Anticipation, anticipation
    Is makin’ me late
    Is keepin’ me waitin’
    My anticipation is waiting for my turn to run my dog in agility. It can be nerve racking. I want my dog to run fast so I get a ribbon. Sounds crazy but each trial this is my anticipation that I will qualify. When it happens I am thrilled so it is worth the anticipation of winning.

    • I totally get why the agility tests fill you with anticipation. It’s not just you either, dogs quiver with anticipation. Your dog would up the anti for you and make the whole thing totally exciting. 🙂

  • Simone says:
    April 8, 2014 @ 09:13 am

    Very good article. I am not a patient person. I agree you do place a higher value on things that take time. Waiting for my children to be born was my biggest anticipation exercise. Work seemed to be deadlines just lots of rushing.

  • Spot on post, Debra! I have never thought about anticipation from this angle and in this context but you are right – anticipating consumers needs, questions, demands, wishes, and basically everything there is to anticipate in relation to your product makes it (or breaks it). I am in the middle of such “anticipation game” with my start up (which you are a support of), especially since we have revealed just half of the project as of now. Work in progress, constantly – and that’ why i am not sure how much of this game i like, my threshold of “pain” tolerance is low sometimes 😀

    • Its and interesting place that you’re in Diana. You are creating anticipation in your audience/clients and anticipating what they want. When you have a delay, you have to explain it and keep people optimistic about your ability to overcome it. You’ve certainly done that so far. Fun and freaky! 🙂

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