I’m a huge proponent of the good ol’ marketing tactic of “surprise and delight.” We see it in many forms these days – across industries and in many different contexts. The problem is that most of these stunts are thinly veiled attempts to promote the brand, which, I think devalues the very reason to surprise and delight a customer or an audience.
I’ve always held to the belief that when we surprise and delight a person or group, we have to do it selflessly. That is, we have to do it with the expectation that we (as a brand) will get nothing in return. The thing is, when you go into it expecting NOTHING is typically when you see the biggest payoff. When you go into it expecting a big return then you are building that into the stunt in the first place, which the typical consumer can smell a mile away.
Surprise and delights are just that – surprising and delighting. They get shared. They get talked about. They are very WOM-worthy. As talked about in the Brains on Fire book (shameless plug) and my former colleague Greg Cordell used to say, “Be famous for the people who love you, for the way you love them.” Or another way to think about it is to become “Fans of your fans.”
I recently stumbled onto what I think is a good start for a surprise and delight campaign with “Honda Loves You Back.” Simply, they saw that a band recorded all of their videos in their Hondas, so they set out to do “everything we can to make them famous.” Here’s the story:
And then, of course, those kids at Coke and their never-ending stream of Happiness. I never get tired of these videos.
Sure, not all of us have the revenue or time to have big Surprise and Delight campaigns. But sometimes the smallest things mean the most. Like picking up the phone and thanking a customer for being a customer. Or sending them to a secret website to pick out a t-shirt for free (and hey, maybe that shirt doesn’t even have your logo on it!) The point is, we’re all capable or it. Surprise and delights put the human factor into all this marketing. And we all know we could use a lot more of that.
Feel free to share a surprise and delight that’s happened to you or one that you’ve heard of. I’m always curious.
One of my favorite things in life is to go to a live show, stand in the middle of the room and listen to the voices around me sing every lyric to every song. And from the musicians perspective, I would think that hearing and watching the audience sing – loudly, even – the lyrics that you wrote, that started as just a collection of words floating around in your head – has got to be incredibly rewarding and validating.
So my question to you as a company is, are your customers singing along with you? Do they know you so well that they WANT to learn all the lyrics? Do they know where the key changes are and the origin of your songs? And are they just humming along, tapping their toes? Or are they leaning forward, arms raised, pounding the air and screaming out each and every word?
I know there’s a lot of talk out there about “fans.” But I think we have to go deeper and begin to dissect the anatomy of what a true fan really is. Without a doubt, they are the people that know you. That know your words and ways and what song is coming up next. But the other thing is that everyone has their own favorite song. And that’s why – to continue the metaphor – you need to have that killer set instead of that one-hit-wonder.
So listen to the audience. Are they singing along at the top of their lungs? Can you step back from the mic long enough to listen to them?
What defines loyalty? Is it becoming a “fan” of a brand on Facebook? Is it getting a tattoo of a brand’s logo on your skin?
Maybe not. And here’s two examples why:
1. What do you think the number one reason people become a fan of a brand on Facebook is?
So they can get free or discounted stuff. Here’s the facts from emarketer.com:
That’s right. It’s not because they want exclusive content or even think you’re fun. They become your fan because they want stuff. The good news is that means they WANT to buy from you. But they just need some motivation to do it.
In other words, they don’t join your Fan Page because they are your fan, but more of a fan of discounts.
2. So let’s go a little (or a LOT) more extreme. If you could get a free meal EVERYDAY for the rest of your life by getting a 4″x4″ tattoo of that restaurant’s logo on your body, would you do it? And we’re not talking about steaks. We’re talking about tacos.
In a recent WSJ article, that’s what San Francisco Mexican restaurant Casa Sanchez has done in the past – and is reviving again. You’ll need to read the article for all the details (like how they interview the contenders to see if they really like the brand or just want the free food or how they cap it at 50 people), but again, it’s a matter of free vs. loyalty.
We’ve heard the stories about Dell using Twitter to sell thousands of computers. And we’re all familiar with other success stories using social media. I think this is where the barrier of entry comes into play. When you make people jump through a hoop or two along the way, you’re testing their loyalty. I know we need to make it as easy as possible for people to find out about us and our products/services. But how easy do we need to make it for them to engage in a deeper relationship with us? It’s just a thought.
Do you want to find out who your true fans and “followers” are? How badly do you want to know?
via caen98 on flickr.com
What would happen if you deleted your Twitter account today or maybe even deleted your Facebook fan page (or profile)? Then turned it back on a month later. How many of the people that you’re currently connected to would seek you out again? Ten percent? Thirty? What if you shut down your ambassador program? Would there be an uproar? Would there be protests? Would a core group organize and start their own to pick up where you left off?
Of course, that idea scares the bejeebees out of anyone that has any significant amount of connections, but I digress…
You can draw your on point from the above questions. I have a few myself. The first one is that if you really matter, if you’re really adding value, then people will seek you out. They’d miss you.
The second point is that I believe that people suffer from “unfollow” indifference. Or “unfriend” and “unfan” indifference. Even if they added you to their social media stream and end up not caring about you, it’s a lot easier to just not read your updates instead of clicking the button to not be connected to you anymore. You have to offend them or spam them in order for them to make the series of clicks it takes to get rid of you completely.
So think about that when you’re putting your online strategy together. Because I’ll take a small group of hard-core fans over a large group of indifferent people any day.
I read the latest post from Geek Dad over at Wired today (Can Geek Culture Exist Without Brands?) and it has many thought-provoking topics packed in there. But to take one of the topics and run with it, in this brave new world of brands attempting to be relevant and even engage and participate in their customers’ lives, you, as a brand, can go in one of two ways:
1) You’re a beacon. You’re a gathering place for like-minded people. They follow your light and gather together where you provide a safe place for them to share their passions and enthusiasm about how you fit in their lives. When you’re beacon, you’re there because you’re goal is to DO THE RIGHT THING. You realize that increased sales is a byproduct of being transparent and honest and doing the best job you can to make your customers lives better by connecting to them and connecting them to one another.
From the Goonies...
2) You’re a booby trap. You have a lot of same elements of the beacon, but your bottom line drives everything. And when those curious people come near to you, you spring your trap, which can come in the form of you attacking them with empty shells of Twitter offers and Facebook fan pages. It’s trying to get them to talk about you instead of you talking about them. It’s putting yourself as number one and sure – you’re inviting people to the party – but it’s your party and you want everyone there to know it and talk about it.
Everyday you have a choice. Every internal strategy meeting and every chat with your agency is an opportunity to choose which path you will take. Will it be a beacon that people come to again and again, or will it be a booby trap that lures people in under false pretenses, springs a trap on them and watches them walk away, never to return?