For you to truly understand how the unexpected helps your business, we need to back up a little bit. What is the unexpected? It’s simply the elemet of surprise. It’s when something unexpected happens that makes you stop on your tracks. Often there is schock. Depends on the intensity of the surprise, of course.
Why no one seems to be using the element of surprise is beyond me. It works SO WELL. And people would still rather use FOMO to market. Which is sad because FOMO causes:
In people. And worse, companies who use FOMO know this and they still want to use it. If you don’t know what FOMO is, it stands for “fear of missing out.”
We see giant brands and businesses use FOMO in order to get sales. Which is not only unethical, it’s also something called coercing. Only a handful of businesses use the power of unexpected in their business and they’re wildly popular. These companies actually have a lot in common, they’re mostly purpose and value driven. They care about the customers and want to make things and services for the customer. Not to gain money, but to help. They are passionate about their businesses. Unlike Gillette, for example. More about this later on in this post.
Should we be concerned about bigger brands using FOMO?
Yes and no. I believe FOMO is going to die off eventually because people are going to start seeing through the mud these companies are putting people through. But this is also why I speak about FOMO a lot. This way you can start becming aware of the tactics these bigger companies are using to manipulate you to buy. And we don’t like being manipulated. This ain’t no darn Chess game.
Marketing itself is neither good nor bad. However, the strategy, the idea, and the actions the brand has behind the marketing strategy, those are where it can get a bit unethical.
Table of contents
Exploring the concept of the “unexptected”
The importance of the unexpected
Why brands should use the power of surprise in their business
How to create an unexpected brand (+ real life examples)?
In order to completely understand the unexpected and where it comes from, we need to look into the word itself.
Defining the “unexpected”:
The Oxford Dictionary defines “unexpected” as follows:
The unexpected is just an emotional intensification, to put in other words, surprise makes you feel -er. Happier, sadder, angrier, etc. Imagine two different scenarios. You’re booking a trip for you and your spouse. You probably feel happy and excited. Now, imagine your friend or parent, or whoever, calling you and letting you know that they booked a getaway for you and your spouse. This makes you happier, because not only do you get to have some quality time with your spouse, you also didn’t have to spend a dime on it.
According to neuroscientist Wolffam Schultz, University of Cambridge, surprise intensifies emotions by about 400%. Yes, that is four-zero-zero percent. This alone should be an indicator that you should be using this tool with your business, but if you’re not convinced yet. Let’s keep talking.
Since the unexpected can intensify your emotions by 400% (thank you, Mr. Schultz), it’s pretty obvious why you should use this with your business. Not only is the unexpected an emotion intensifier, it also makes people happy. Yes, you read that right. When you use FOMO you make people feel anxiety and depression. But when you surprise people, you make these people curious. Because surprise sparks curiosity. And once people get curious, they won’t stop thinking/searching for the answer until their brain tells them to.
Here at Moose Anchors we believe that the power of surprise is one of the best things you can do for your business (after hiring a brand strategist). It’s fascinating and interesting how people respond to something as simple as surprise and how many actions it triggers people to take. But, you do want to be mindful about this. No one likes bad surprises, like people passing away, unexpected bills, etc. You need to keep things light and playful.
Especially in the modern society where we have been conditioned to respond to such marketing hacks as FOMO. It’s not only unethical but also very sleezy and makes you seem like a villain.
Here is a TED talk from Suprisiologist Tania Luna, I found it very interesting. You should also check out her book.
Brands should be using the power of surprise not just because it makes people feel good, but also because it wakes them up from their “scroll coma.” Scroll coma is what I call when you’re bored (or avoid doing something), get on social media and start to scroll. You scroll, swipe, and go until something just makes you stop and wakes you up from that coma.
Think of it like this, you’re like a zombie that is trying to consume more and more information but nothing is really sticking, nothing seems interesting enough. Until something crazy pops out. Maybe it’s one of those darn horror clips that you see online. Normal scenary, BAM, there is a ghost on the screen.
Those are exactly what I’m talking about here. You have woken up from coma. And you might even remember this video for years. You saw something unexpected.
Now, I’m not telling you that you need to make something like one of those horror clips with your business. If that’s what you’re taking from all this, that is on you. I clean my hands off. What I am saying, though, is that you could utilizie this information and create something that will, indeed, stop people on their tracks.
Why does unexpected content work? Because we have way too many distractions these days. Our emails, DM’s, texts, phone calls, meetings and Pinterest boards are all screaming for our attention. Everything wants our attention. And when we see something unexpected, we can’t help but be pulled back into the present moment. Our brain does that.
Again, this is not the easiest task to do since you need to know your target audience like no other (if you need help with that, fill out my form and we’ll work it out together).
This blog post aims to provide some general guidance for you to start utilizing the unexpected with your business. But remember:
It all starts with you ditching the unethical ways of marketing. Such like FOMO. We don’t want to make your audience feel like a donut that has been outside in pouring rain and blazing sun for one week straight. No one wants to feel like this.
How exactly can you come up with ways to use the unexpected? You have to get curious.
Take your excisting service or product – whatever you want to add the surprise to – and get curious. Ask yourself how can I make this product/service more surprising? Surprise triggers curiosity and curiosity triggers surprise.
To get curious, think of it more like a place you go to, rather than a feeling. When you need curiosity, take the elevator in your head to the 20th floor, that happens to be the curiosity floor, and go crazy. There are no such thing as bad ideas here. Let it all out.
You can also play the 20 questions. Pick a service/product and come up with 20 questions about it. People usually get stuck at question nine, but if you keep trying your curiousity will take the wheel and interesting stuff will surface.
Hands down one of the best examples is Dollar Shave Club. They have found a way to be purpose-driven while also utilizing the power of surprise. In this add, they reply to one of the hottest questions they get “are the blades any good?” which they reply with “No. Our blades are f***ing great.” which instantly gets people bursting their drinks out of their mouths. They said whaaaat??? This works for DSC because their brand personality is witty and humorous. And they know exactly how to keep the person watching, entertained.
The next example we’re going with is Dr. Squatch. They make natural bar soap for men (I adore their business and everything they do). They are very similar to DSC but I would argue that they’re even more ridiculous. They have a better social media marketer as well. The way they’re speaking to their target audience is so on point and beautiful to watch because they hit all the pain points these people have and go above and beyond for them. Which also keeps the viewer enagaged because they’re doing some weird and interesting stuff on this video. Bravo. Let’s look at their social media posts.
Their social media is very lose and full of memes. Which, again, talks directly to their audience. You cannot expect anything from them and their posting because it’s always something random. Which keeps people coming back. And interested. Because they never know what to expect next.
Last, but definitely not the least, we got Purple. They sell mattresses but also other bed related items, like this protector sheet. Now, I can’t even tell you how different this ad is from everyone. First of all, I would have never expected to see a Sasquatch talking about a sheet protector? Hello, where did this idea come from? But instantly, you’re pulled into the ad. You just have to see how it ends. While they’re very informative about how the product helps you, they make it interesting. They probably played the 20 questions game. How can we make this interesting? And here we are. Watching a Sasquatch talking about a sheet. Brilliant.
The conclusion is this. Ditch the fear based marketing hacks and tactics. The only thing they cause, is harm. If you want to have a business that flourishes and is here to stay, you should consider adding the element of unexpected in your business. It intensifies your emotions by 400% (proven). And when people are surprised, they talk. They tell their friends and family what happened.
When you utilize the unexpected, you wake people up from their scroll coma and get them plugged back into the present moment. This happens automatically because that is how our braind are wired. And when they’re completely present, your surprise causes them to get curious about why they’re curious. Which leads to people investigating you.
You know that feeling when you put on a new outfit and suddenly feel like a million bucks? That's what I do for wholesome brands. Minus the awkward changing room lighting.