Posted by on Dec 21, 2012 in BLOG

Just  about all advertising is an unwanted interruption. Whether it’s three minutes of commercials when we just can’t wait to see what happens next on Desperate Housewives or it’s a billboard ruining that otherwise perfect Instagram of a sunset, our lives are constantly interrupted by people trying to sell us something that most of the time we don’t want or could care less about. People trying to tell us to change what we’re doing or thinking.

As a planner, I’m part of this interruption. Sure, my goal is to find people who could care about the message that’s interrupting their life, but it’s still an interruption.

Mapping out the consumer experience (or decision path or consumer journey, etc) is supposed to help me with this, it’s supposed to explain what is going on in the audience’s life and when they would be most receptive to what type of messaging (/interruption).

Done wrong, it’s a pointless and annoying exercise. Done right, the results can be kind of kick ass (at least according to this nerd).

Example: In the last eight years, I’ve bought three Mac laptops. The first two times, I didn’t buy Apple Care. The third time, my behavior shifted and I finally bought it.

What changed? Apple’s timing.

What you might not be able to tell from the rather visually-overwhelming purchase journey below is that I was asked three times if I wanted to buy Apple Care.

 The first time: I didn’t understand the message about the product.This resulted in a negative experience later.

The second time: I understood the message and I to buy it, but I forgot. This resulted in a negative experience later.

The third time: I understood the messaging and Apple reminded me to buy it.  This resulted in a positive experience immediately and later.

On the third time, instead of being annoyed,  I was grateful. I was grateful to Apple for sending me an e-mail about their product and asking me to buy it because buying their product made my life better. If you think about, that’s pretty unusual. And pretty awesome.

See? Timing is everything.


Customer Decision Journey


Examples like this one are too few and far between. Too rarely are we glad to hear a brand’s message, but if we can retool the messaging and pay a little more attention to the timing, I think we can fix that. And in the process, make our ads a little more effective.