Don’t ignore surprise as a powerful marketing tool

Posted by
Barry Siskind
UFIs Community Manager

When I was a kid my father owned a retail store. I worked for him on Saturday’s to earn extra money. I recall one time when he had a bunch of small, inexpensive items that he couldn’t sell so he packaged paper bags filled with these unsalable items and called his promotion “The surprise bag.” The result was that he sold all of the items in one weekend.

What intrigued customers enough to purchase a surprise bag when they had no idea of its contents. The answer lies in one word – surprise.

We have been obsessed over the past few years with the collection and mining of data. The purpose has been an attempt to understand our customer better and create the kind of product, services and exhibitions that our customers want. Big Data gives customers what they want but surprise gives them what they crave.

The results may be that what we may have created is a business environment that is too predictable and therefore uninteresting.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review Author Scott Redick addressed the issue of surprise as a marketing tool. His thesis is that the element of surprise is a crucial marketing element that may have become overlooked. Surprise, according to Redick, is addictive, changes behaviour, is inexpensive, charges emotions and fuels passion.

Surprise is a tool both organizers and their exhibitors should actively seek. Without the element of surprise exhibitions become boring producing lackluster results.

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