Surprise and Delight & the Power of the Unexpected – Chapter 8


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[Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts as we work towards completing the manuscript for ‘What’s Your Purple Goldfish?’. Today is Chapter 8 and the second of the ingredients or R.U.L.E.S]

What the hell is a schema?

Steve Knox of Tremor (a P&G agency) took me to school the other day. He wrote an enlightened post in Ad Age entitled, “Why Effective Word of Mouth Disrupts Schemas”. The premise of the article is how to leverage cognitive disruption to drive ‘word of mouth’. By doing something unexpected, you force people to talk about their experience.

First off let me admit I had no clue what a ‘schema’ was. So here is interpretation of the word:

It turns out that our lizard brain remains typically in a static state. The brain relies on developing cognitive schemas to figure out how the world works. It recognizes patterns and adapts your behavior accordingly. It basically doesn’t want to have to think. For example, every day you get into the car and you know instinctively to drive on the right side of the road. Fast forward and you’re on a trip to the UK or Australia. The first time you drive on the left side it throws you for a loop. Its disruptive to your normal driving schema and it forces the brain to think, thereby it elicits discussion (ie. word of mouth).

Steve provided some great examples in his article. My one favorite was for a new Secret deodorant that P&G was launching. The deodorant utilized a moisture activated ingredient which kicked in when you sweat. The brand understood that this could be positioned against a traditional schema, ie. the more you workout, the more you sweat and the worse you smell. The tagline for the brand became, “The More You Move, the Better You Smell”. A staggering 51,000 consumers posted comments on P&G’s website about the product.

I started thinking how this idea of disruption applies to the concept of marketing lagniappe. The second ingredient in the lagniappe R.U.L.E.S is the concept of being Unexpected. It’s that little something that’s an unexpected extra at the time of purchase. It’s the unexpected ‘surprise and delight’ that triggers disruption of our schemas.

Let’s face it . . . most companies fail to deliver an exceptional customer experience. It’s only when a brand goes ‘above and beyond’ we get shocked. And what happens when we receive that unexpected ‘branded act of kindness‘? We tell our friends, we tweet it and we post on Facebook about it.

Let’s look at a few examples:

The Power of an Unexpected Discount

I was at the Pepperidge Farm Factory store recently picking up a few things. There was a senior citizen standing in front of me in line buying a few items. Her total bill was $9.96. The clerk informed her that all purchases over ten dollars received a 20% discount and asked her if she’d like to pick out something else. Quickly she made a b-line to the Milanos (good choice by the way) which essentially were free once he factored in the discount. I could tell she left with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step.

pepperidge farm purple goldfishThose Milano’s were an unexpected surprise and I can almost guarantee you that she will recount that story a few times. Turns out the folks at Pepperidge Farm make purple goldfishes both literally and figuratively.

An extra acknowledgement for a hotel guest

My friend Jack Monson over at PR Workbench shared this story from a business trip to Minnesota:

courtyard by marriottA few years ago, I was traveling to the Twin Cities often and stayed several times at the same Courtyard By Marriott in the suburb of Eden Prarie since it was close to two clients’ HQs. By the third trip in a few weeks’ time, I had a nice surprise waiting for me. I walked in after a cold and delayed trip from Chicago to see a big sign in the lobby saying “Welcome Jack Monson.” The manager informed me that I was their guest of the week (or whatever the title was) and gave me a card for free breakfast in the morning. Not a huge thing, but guess where I continued to stay everytime I had to travel to Minneapolis over the next year…

KLM does a little extra for their fans

#595 in the Purple Goldfish Project came courtesy of Barry Dalton and the following tweet:

A Purple Goldfish to start your morning and creative social engagement by @KLM (cc @9inchmarketing) #custserv #cex #scrm

Barry shared a story about the Dutch Airline KLM. Here is the backstory on the KLM program:

KLM gives small personal gifts at Schiphol Airport to customers who have indicated through social media that they fly with KLM. If you use the location based social networking site Foursquare or place a message on Twitter at @klmsurprise, indicating that you will fly with KLM that day, it may just happen that the KLMsurprise team finds you and surprises you.

klm surpriseAs soon as someone checks in via Foursquare at Schiphol or another airport KLM flies to, KLM tries to contact him or her through the @ klmsurprise account on Twitter. The message is that KLM has a little surprise. Next the KLMsurprise team comes into action to quickly offer a surprising, personalized gift before the customer is on board.

Martijn van der Zee, vice president of KLM E-Commerce: “The team devises an original surprise that really fits the person who receives it. We offer people an attentive KLM experience. This way, we gave a PSV fan heading towards New York a Lonely Planet guide in which we had circled all the pubs where he could watch live matches of PSV. Dennis, a customer on his way to a conference in Boston, we gave a notebook in which he could immediately capture the best ideas he would encounter”.

KLMsurprise fits in KLM’s campaign slogan “Journeys of Inspiration” by surprising and inspiring people during their trip.

Martijn van der Zee: “KLM wants to achieve a number of objectives through these actions. The goal is to make our fan base – people who find it worthwhile to follow us on Facebook or Twitter – increase. We also want that our existing followers – almost 80,000 fans on Facebook and 60,000 Twitter followers – remain enthusiastic about KLM and share this with their friends.”

[Next Up is Chapter 9. Limited – the third ingredient of a purple goldfish]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Here’s a look at schemas by Steve Knox. It’s a Slideshare presentation entitled: ‘Understanding Word of Mouth – The Science of Advocacy’:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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