Secrets of The Moment Before

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What is the “Moment Before” someone finds your website, learns about your product, or decides to purchase your service?

Understand that moment, and you find strategic direction for your marketing and sales campaigns.

Sanford Meisner, one of the godfathers of “method acting”, first coined the phrase as part of an emotional preparation for performers.

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Before taking the stage, the actor must consider the “moment before” – what has just happened offstage, to create the tears, the laughter, the anger, or whatever other emotional through-line is driving a particular scene?


After all, if you dog has just died, or you won the lottery, or you need a career coach… your “moment before” changes everything. This concept from the world of theater is imminently important to business today.

While actors benefit from a clearly defined script to let them know the moment before, they still have to find their own creativity to express it, engage with other characters onstage, and then move the story forward.

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Similarly, businesses must understand the “moment before” to create their own story, and involve customers in the process.


That moment before is crucial to understand how to market yourself (or your products), how to position services among competitors, and how to place a brand on the world wide web. In a recent client session, I asked, “What do people think of – what is the need – that causes people to find you on the web? What is the the desire – that causes them to find you?”

A Big Fat Kiss

When a company is able to step into their customers’ mind, to understand what the customer lacks – the “fill in the blank” need that causes the customer to seek out a particular solution, and ultimately, your particular company. That “I need a _______” is the keyword search and the place where the sales process really begins. PS: It’s also the place where your potential customer finds your competition.

Many have written about the nature of desire. At its core, desire is produced by one thing and one thing only. In fact, all desire – including the kinds of desire that are found elsewhere on the internet – have their roots in one simple thing.

The moment before is about what’s missing. Lack creates the first step towards a particular product or service. So, to understand what it is that is lacking is to understand the customer.

Consider what the customer wants, before they become a customer:

Effective marketing and sales strategies can focus on creating that sense of lack – or capitalizing on it. So much of our effort is spent on addressing the needs of the customer, through features and benefits, but what about understanding the moment that got the client to engage? If we understand the moment before, we understand who our customer really is. Moreover, we can understand what alternatives (either competitors or substitutions) come into play as part of consumer behavior. If the “moment before” is right, the performance of the organization will be, too.

Main Image courtesy of Gerard Girbes, used under creative commons license. Some rights reserved.

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