The Element Of Surprise25 July 2016
In a world where Kim and Kanye break the internet every few months, Trump is edging ever closer to becoming Leader of the Free World and Brexit actually happened IRL – is there really anything that shocks us anymore?
Well, actually, yes – somehow, despite the emotional rollercoasters that influencers around the world subject us to via on and offline media on a daily basis, the element of surprise lives on.
Whilst most marketers are winning by making things easy and predictable for us— for example, Google Maps advising us on expected journey times for our usual route home from work based on traffic information, retailers by sharing ‘similar products’ and ‘featured recommendations’ and social networks suggesting who we should follow —the perfect surprise can create that essential ‘wow’ factor to cut through the noise.
There’s even an actual job title for an expert in this area – surprisologist Tania Luna has defined surprise as, “the neuropsychological equivalent of a pause button. It makes us stop what we’re doing, hijacks our attention, and forces us to pay attention. It also intensifies our emotions by about 400%.”
Music is probably the easiest industry to use as an example – but brands outside of this sector can still learn plenty of lessons from today’s artists.
Gone are the days of the ‘PR machine’ grinding out hours of tours and promo for artists, for the likes of Beyoncé, she springs her latest projects on the world with little to no warning – a tactic that generates buzz and excitement that leads to sales.
Lemonade, Beyoncé’s latest work, is a great example. Back in the spring, she released a trailer on US TV network HBO for a “world premiere event” to air the following weekend. No further details were shared, so social media went into overdrive, with the Beyhive (Beyoncé’s hardcore fan community) discussing 24/7 whether it would be a new album, a video, even a documentary was touted as an option.
All of the anticipation translated into high levels of viewers tuning in to HBO – when it soon became apparent that Lemonade was a visual concept album. Midway through its airing, Beyoncé used Instagram to announce the release of her album on Tidal, Jay-Z’s music streaming platform, and then eventually it was released on iTunes – perhaps the biggest surprise of all.
The success of Lemonade has led to a sell-out world tour, including two back-to-back including two record breaking nights at Wembley earlier this month.
- Dare to be different – think about it, who even buys albums anymore? But a video album? Yes please. Taking the briefest of respites from the day-to-day process is so essential to allow for creative thinking and exploring new ways of reaching your audience.
- Get emotional – whether you like to admit to it or not, it’s a fact that emotional connection outlasts any other reaction. The recent Brexit campaign is a perfect example of how putting heart and emotion first helped to win the race: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/emotion-gave-leave-vote-advantage/1400623
- Exclusive offers – without buying primetime TV airtime a la Beyoncé, you could test the water with short-term promotions and exclusive sales for your newsletter subscribers, or social followers, for example.
- Provide an unexpected reward for consumers – brand partnerships like the Benefit/Starbucks collaboration recently http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/01/15/benefit-and-starbucks-pair-bestfriends-campaign-offer-free-coffee-and-make , taps into a whole new potential consumer base as well as reminding your loyal fans that you can still be innovative. Isn’t that why they chose you in the first place?
Video is king – if further proof were required (TIP: it’s not) that video is where it’s at, then a 60-minute video album drop by the one of the world’s biggest artists has to be it. Incorporating video into your communications is vital, if only to showcase everyone’s happy surprised faces when your campaign is a success.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about surprise marketing. Or maybe you’re just a big Beyoncé fan. Whatever, we’d love to chat further with you and perhaps even explore how the element of surprise can boost your brand.