There has been much written on viral marketing and how to put a business on the map using social media. But before that can be done, there needs to be something to talk about; something to get people excited about so they will talk about your business.
One way to create a buzz is to create a surprise. People love surprises and best of all, remember them.
To surprise someone, all you have to do is something pleasant and unexpected.
Meeting expectations keeps you in business. Beating expectations or doing something unexpected can grow it.
You are not a hero on Wall Street if you meet expectations, even if they are big ones. Beat expectations, however, and Wall Street will sing your praise…even if the gains are modest!
Meeting expectations is the cost to stay in business.
Customers expect good service when they go to a restaurant. They expect good treatment when at a store and expect their Netflix DVD mailed to them as soon as their old one has been returned.
Do something unexpected, however, and magic happens.
Usually all it takes is turning a simple idea into a surprise; something people don’t expect.
Businesses that surprise customers; that do things unexpectedly, flourish. In this era of viral marketing, that is especially true. People remember surprises and talk about them.
I bet you can’t remember most of your birthdays unless you were lucky enough to have a surprise one. (Mine was when I was 16).
Here is a short list of surprises from local businesses in Hawaii that I remember:
• Communications Pacific, one of Hawaii’s leading public relations firms, had fresh hot cookies in their conference room every time I had a meeting there.
• Oceanic Time Warner Cable, the company that provides most of Hawaii’s television and internet service, sends out an apology letter with a free On-Demand Movie credit for inconveniencing customers who need a home repair visit. (I love this one, ‘cause that was my initiative).
• Alan Wong’s, one of Hawaii’s five star restaurants, serve an over-the-top complimentary birthday cake complete with birthday wishes and your name written in chocolate on your plate.
• Banana Republic sends out birthday card greetings to their fashion conscious customers with outstanding discounts on your birthday.
• Nature Conservancy hosts notable events, a luncheon and trips for legacy donors.
• Super Geeks, a computer repair company, installs security protection, at no extra charge, when repairing your computer.
Will some of these things create a buzz for their customers, something worth talking about…even if it is on a tweet with no more than 140 characters? For others, well, it’s harder to get upset in a meeting with fresh warm cookies in front of you.
What can you do to surprise your customers?
What if a gas station checked the air in your tires? (I know, it’s been done before)?
What if a clothing store input your fashion preferences into a database so they could mix and match outfits digitally for you or notify you when a new style comes in that fits your preferences.
What if the waiter at a restaurant welcomes you by name as he hands you the menu (because he was able to pull it from the reservations list)?
What if you got a Hershey’s chocolate kiss during Valentines day as you leave the store you frequent.
What if you could speak to someone in English, without an Indian accent, when you had technical problems with your computer?
Businesses are like people. Make a positive impression and they will like you. Surprise and delight them, and they will want to spend more time with you…and…more money.
Do you have a memory of a business that left a good impression on you? I’d love to hear from you, the customer! Please share your adventure, below.