Surprise Is Still the Most Powerful Marketing Tool

Surprise in mraketing
"Surprise and delight are two key ingredients for a successful marketing strategy. They are powerful tools to create memorable experiences among customers"

Consumers are thrill-seekers. As much as people find routines comforting, many individuals thrive on little unexpected moments. When people experience a positive moment that comes out of nowhere, the experience is likely to be one they remember, whether it’s a compliment on the street, winning a prize in a contest or something else.

One of the most powerful marketing strategies companies can leverage is surprise and delight, as it plays on the strong emotions and memories that can be created through unanticipated happiness. When businesses decide to cut through the predictability of everyday life and offer unique experiences, they will be sure to generate increased loyalty and customer retention, which in turn bolsters their bottom lines. However, considering the fact that many companies have limited marketing budgets, leaders might be skeptical that employing surprise tactics can really have a significant impact. Do these methods really work?

What makes customers tick

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), surprise and delight is among the most effective marketing tools because it plays to some very basic truths about human nature. For one, the source asserted that surprise is addictive, as shown in a study by scientists at Emory University and Baylor University. Researchers tested subjects to see how they would react in response to a sequence of pleasurable stimuli in the form of fruit juice and water. Subjects received squirts of each liquid, with some subjected to a predictable pattern and others experiencing one that was random. When scientists looked at MRIs of the tested individuals’ brains, those who got juice at unpredictable moments responded stronger than those who knew when it was coming. HBR noted that Dr. Read Montague, a professor of neuroscience at Baylor, said that results show people are “designed to crave the unexpected.”

Additionally, HBR asserted that surprise is a powerful tool for driving desired behavior, as it introduces people to new stimuli. This in turn encourages learning, which can result in customers being more receptive to buying new products, upgrading services and more. The source advised that instead of shaping marketing campaigns around what needs to be said to convince consumers to take a certain action, it may be more effective to think in terms of what these individuals would see as predictable and then do something that will flip those expectations on their heads.

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