No such thing as meeting expectations

The case for marketing lagniappe

This past summer I was in New York City with a colleague. Brad and I were at a rooftop bar waiting to meet a few people before heading over to a networking event.  I noticed a guy sitting on his own for over 15 minutes. It was obvious that he was waiting for someone. I struck up a conversation about waiting.  I offered my standard line:

Do you know that we spend 10% of our life waiting? [It’s true . . . I read it online]

We started talking about waiting and the importance of being on time.  Right then this guy said something that was a paradigm shift for me [a true ‘knock you in your tracks’ Tyler Durden moment].

I’ll paraphase it:

There is no such thing as being on time.  Being on time is a fallacy.  You either are early . . . or you are late.  No one is ever on time.  On time is a myth.

I immediately starting thinking about how this applies to business and the idea of meeting expectations.  I’ve always thought the idea of meeting expectations is a surefire recipe for losing business.  It’s similar to playing prevent defense in football . . . the only thing it does is prevent you from winning.

This new paradigm has only made it clearer for me.  Meeting expectations is a myth.  Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Meeting Expectations.  Sorry kids . . . they are all myths.

You either fall below expectations or you exceed. It bears repeating:

‘There is no such thing as meeting expectations’

In a world where 60-80%* of customers describe their customer satisfaction as satisfied or very satisfied before going on to defect to other brands, ‘meeting expectations’ is no longer an option.

The Solution:

Make it a practice to always overdeliver.  Find ways to give a little extra . . . find your purple, green or golden goldfish. Simply set your bar higher than the expectations of your customers and employees.  Provide a little something extra for good measure. Your goal should be to strive to bring unique value to the customer.  Never settle for being seen as a “commodity.”

Stan Phelps is a popular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. He believes that brands must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan works with clients to create programs, keynotes, and workshops that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become talkable by design. The result: programs that win BIG.

Contact Stan at or call +1.919.360.4702