We’re Designed to Crave the Unexpected

By October 21, 2013General

Patrick Bettenburg is currently working with d.trio as an Account Executive.

This month our word is Surprise and with Halloween around the corner, tricks, treats, and surprises are top of mind.  A recent blog reminded me of the value that the element of surprise is as a marketing strategy. Titled Why Surprise and Delight Marketing Really Works, it cites some serious research that proves the potential of this often overlooked marketing strategy.

Having always been fascinated by how the power of branding works in the human brain, this post affirmed to me that some of the best marketing is built on neuropsychology. This was proven in a study at Emory University and Baylor University that was published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Scientists studied the MRIs of subjects who were reacting to sequences of pleasurable stimuli. When the sequence was predictable, the level of enjoyment visible in the brain was less than when the sequence was unpredictable. The subjects whose stimulus was unpredictable registered the greatest pleasure in the brain, resulting in a stronger connection from the experience.

The HBR quoted Dr. Read Montague, professor of neuroscience at Baylor, stating that the results show that people are “designed to crave the unexpected”. People’s brains respond more when surprised, making it a very powerful tool for marketing. The surprise becomes a new stimulus that encourages learning and interest, and can make customers more receptive to new things, like upgrades and new products or services. And, that surprise can actually make a stronger connection in the brain with your brand.

For marketers this means that if we create campaigns that are not expected, but rather more of a pleasant surprise, we can build a stronger relationship with the customers. This is a golden ticket for loyalty marketing. Instead of ringing the same old chimes, try to create a connection that is unexpected.

We are seeing a lot of this trend in social media. Going viral is the new ‘word of mouth’ advertising, something that is surprising or unexpected gets repeated or retweeted. So surprise your customers in a delightful way and see how it might engage their brains or more importantly, their loyalty.

Author Beth Seitzberg

More posts by Beth Seitzberg

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