The Consumer Hype Curve

January 8, 2007 2:11 am 0 comments

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Part of the challenge of marketers is to build hype among the customers for upcoming promotions.

What a lot of marketing people will not understand is that the customers build hype for themselves and you have very little control over it.

E.g. If Mobilink puts up a half-page ad in a newspaper that shows a film actor and says “On Jan 10, Mobilink will introduce a new ad on TV… see it” that is not going to help at all.

If GEO tv or DJuice spend three weeks paying for huge billboards with random hints such as “Aur” and “Save your thumbs…” that wont do much except confuse or annoy consumers.

Let’s keep the discussion of creating hype for another time. If you are curious about it you can read Seth Godin’s POV of it.

The questions is, what happens after you’ve created this hype? Click the link below for that discussion.

While this is not a precise science, you can easily find metrics from your marketing campaign to see this in effect.

If you are able to successfully hype a customer about an upcoming product, the customer enters would I would call a Hype Curve. While similar curves will exist for standard marketing as well, this effect will be seen very particularly in Edge-centric marketing techniques where you are engaging lead customers.

The hype curve would be very similar in shape to a Product Lifecycle curve, and would have the following stages.

  • Inception – When the customer first gets interested / hyped
  • Inflexion – When the iniital hype is strengthed by hearing about your product some more.
  • Plateau – Reaching the peak of how much that person in particular will be excited about your product
  • Waning – Customer losing interest
  • Tailing – Customer trailing off

Desired : Take the Customer to Plateau before launch

The information about your product that is relevant to your customer should be presented in a way that it improves the hype curve. This can be seen as a series of very small needs analysis sessions with that customer to identify what next to tell the customer to raise his interest further. Most consumers would tell you that after you gain their trust during Inception.

Not Ideal : Launching your product during plateau

It may seem natural to plan your product launch when you can see that your customers have peaked their excitement. Quite often this is a good enough time to launch the product.

However, with Prosumer-created products, this will not always be the case. If you launch just at the start of the plateau, there is a chance that some of the prosumers will market themselves more than your product.

Even that isn’t a problem for pure prosumer driven products such as YouTube or MySpace. Those products only hold value because of the additions of the customer and hold absolutely no value without user content.

However, this is a slight issue with a very select type of products which include a mix of value from the manufacturer as well as the prosumer.

Desired : Launch your product just at the start of waning

Identifying when customers are beginning to wane off their interest is the more challenging but important exercise.

It is challenging because most customers will choose to remain silent and patient during the waning period. This is because in their mind you are just beginning to get boring or annoying.

Ideal : Flip the Funnel

Seth Godin has a concept of switching from traditional ‘funnel marketing’ into marketing that only happens through word-of-mouth, over reliable channels.

There are structured methods of planning this that I wouldn’t share over coffee, but it involves a deeper engagement of communications with your customers throughout the hype curve.

From the hype curve, if you have done consistent communciations and can launch at just the start of the waning phase, it can spark another set of excitement within the customer. It is at this point that he or she would actively start promoting the product just as funnel flipping envisions.

Risk : Delaying the launch beyond Waning

This is the biggest risk of edge-driven marketing. If you hype something, you must be very concious of tracking that customer’s hype curve.

If you are unable to track the hype curve of every individual customer, you risk not only alienating them away from your product, but also inviting them to conciously speak against your product.

When you get someone to put vested emotional interest in your product, he looks at you as a friend. Leaving them can often spark detrimental emotions that could cause the customer to actively persue demoting your product among the same trusted channels instead of promoting it.

Thus while edge-centric marketing techniques can be of a much lower cost compared to traditional ones, they also bear the much higher risk that you could actually end up with people demoting your product.

This happened with the DJuice post-launch campaign. You can also see a live example of this waning and tail phase affect by following Scrybe’s launch activities.

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