How to effectively use surprise and delight

Reaching today’s consumers is often more of an art than a science. With all the noise individuals have to cope with in the current marketplace, it’s becoming more difficult for people to find the brands that truly fit their needs and lifestyles. In order to acquire and retain customers in such a highly competitive environment, companies can’t simply rely on the same marketing tactics they have been using for years. Standing out requires using the personal touches that modern consumers crave, and surprise and delight marketing can be a great way to create meaningful bonds with these individuals.

Rewards that make an impact
When consumers think about loyalty programs, they likely think about collecting points, redeeming discounts and receiving emails from their favorite companies. While these are all parts of effective loyalty systems, they can sometimes seem generic if they aren’t highly customized and leveraged alongside more unique efforts.

Surprise and delight marketing can be especially impactful, as it harnesses the power of the unexpected to companies’ advantages. Customer often don’t expect businesses to be listening closely to their needs, and they also don’t anticipate that brands will go the extra mile to use that information in special ways. Now more than ever, customers want these beliefs proven wrong.

Fortunately, surprise and delight initiatives don’t have to be costly or elaborate. Even if the gestures are small, they can have a long-lasting positive impact, which can drive customer retention, word of mouth recommendations and more.

“Rather than doing a hundred really big projects, today’s marketers need to do tens of thousands of tiny things each year to be successful. It’s not about the campaign, it’s about engagement,” David Meerman Scott, a marketing expert, recently noted in a post on his personal blog.

Similarly, Spike Jones, a communications professional, wrote in an article for that it’s actually the smallest things that are often the most valuable to customers. Jones pointed out that businesses could do something as simple as calling a customer to thank them for their business or giving them a link to a website where they can pick out a free product.

“Surprise and delights put the human factor into all this marketing,” Jones added.

Brain’s on Fire pointed out that a great way for brands to use surprise and delight is by supplying unique experiences that address a particular pain point. For example, orange juice company Tropicana saw an opportunity to both provide a valuable service to consumers and promote its beverages when it learned a community in the Canadian arctic, Inuvik, had been without sunlight for more than a month. Tropicana decided to bring these people an artificial sun to brighten up the town. In addition, employees of the company provided excited on-lookers with Tropicana juice.

No matter what way a business decides to implement surprise and delight, whether it be through small gestures or larger-scale efforts, these initiatives can create powerful associations that fuel engagement, retention and word of mouth recommendations. When customers see that a brand cares about their everyday lives, their interests and what makes them unique, they are sure to respond in ways that boost the company’s results. Connecting on a more personalized, human level makes all the difference.