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Warning: Storm Approaching

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The entire Puget Sound region was on high alert last weekend due to extreme weather conditions. Forecasts called for 50 – 80 mile per hour winds. Power was expected to be lost for days on end. Media outlets implored families to stock up on water, canned goods, blankets, candles, and batteries. Flood warnings were issued for all area rivers. Generators were flying off the shelf. Pacific Northwest residents prepared for whatever Mother Nature would unleash. The pervasive attitude was: Bring it on – we’re ready!

nw-stormaggedon-aftermathThis image best encapsulates the enormous devastation wrought by the storm along Washington’s I-5 corridor.

I know. But don’t worry. Local leaders will meet to develop an assistance plan.

Social media was rife with commentary regarding the storm. News outlets were mocked mercilessly over their approach. I can’t believe the speed at which our ‘all hands on deck’ attitude toward the storm devolved into an omnipresent disdain for those who forecasted its arrival.

Like many things in life and business – it all boils down to perspective. For this event, media outlets were focused on preparedness, which is why they approached the forecasting of the storm from a worst-case scenario. The disconnect occurred because the message set a level of expectation for the audience; and audiences do not evaluate messages based on their ‘intent.’ An audience evaluates a message and, consequently, the messenger, based on the actual event.

Businesses can learn a lot about advertising from the coverage of this storm.

Advertising sets the level of expectation for your target audience. That’s it. It can be the most expensive, creative, thought-provoking, and motivating campaign ever created. But all it does is set the standard. Your brand is built on the actual experience of your customers. This is why I invest so much time writing about the importance of on-hold advertising. This environment is a boots on the ground, real-time encounter with your company that needs to reinforce the image of your business created through your advertising.

If the customer experience does not measure up to the expectation that you set, the message of your ad campaign won’t matter. This time, it will be your company suffering through the effects of a different type of storm. Gale-force winds of negativity will gather strength off the coast of your business in social media. Then, she will turn suddenly inland with little to no warning before striking your doorstep.

The wonderful thing about on-hold advertising is you control the message AND the experience.

So, be prepared. A storm is brewing.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius
Woodstock Media Group
On-Hold Concepts, Inc.

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