What’s expected

It’s expected that you’ll tip the masseuse (masseur) at the spa. But not the acupuncturist down the street.

It’s expected that the CEO of a public company will hire a hotshot consultant to help her do her job. The CFO gets to do that too. But not the receptionist.

It’s expected that coffee in a fancy restaurant will cost  more than it does at a cafe.

It’s expected that wifi in a business hotel ought to be free. But it didn’t used to be that way.

It’s expected that the TV in the gym will be on, always. It’s expected, though, that you’ll wear headphones to listen to Marley.

It’s expected that you take a family vacation to Florida. It’s not expected, though, to take the kids to Topeka.

It’s expected that a child-care facility will run ads with lots of rainbows. A Freudian psychiatrist, on the other hand, is expected not to advertise at all.

Faced with expectations, you’ve got three really big options:

1. Embrace expectations and build a product or service that fits what people are looking for. No change of behavior necessary. Be in the right place at the right time with the right thing priced appropriately and hope the competition doesn’t show up.

2. Change the expectations. No one expected to be able to buy digital music for 99 cents a song and have it show up on their iPod. Now, that’s the default expectation in some communities. Changing an expectation builds a huge barrier to those that might follow. Change is time consuming, expensive and rarely happens on schedule.

3. Defy the expectations. Do the unexpected. This is tempting but often leads to nothing but noise.

Before you start marketing something, it helps to be able to describe which combination of the three you’re setting out to accomplish.