Swearingen Communications Insights

Fresh ideas, seasoned perspectives, and solid marketing strategies to keep you grounded and growing.


When Being Emotional and Unexpected Are Good Things

From driving higher open rates on emails, to earning more repeat business, surprise and raw emotion can go a long way.

According to authors Tania Luna and Lee-Ann Renniger in their new book, Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,  “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.”  They show how, in a time when consumers’ attention is often more valuable than their money, injecting surprise can lead to greater customer loyalty, more engagement, and a more fulfilling customer experience.  Of course, the surprise must be positive — or at least, interesting.

I’m reminded of the over-sized, fragrant, homemade pumpkin cookies warming in a crock pot at the front desk of a hotel I checked into late one cold winter night.  What a welcoming touch.  Years later, I’m still talking about it.

Surprise can also be injected by doing things differently, interrupting a pattern, or putting a new twist on things.  Think “new and improved” on a product or offering.

Dean DeLisle, founder and CEO of Forward Progress, Inc., also recommends crafting online content that is unexpected and that people will connect with emotionally. “Think about that thing that makes you different and out of the box,” he said.  “That’s what is going to make people stick around. . .Most people are putting up content, but they’re not generating the level of engagement they really want for their organization.” (Source: The PRSA Strategist, Summer 2015).

Still not convinced? Remember “lizard brain.” Lizard brain is our primitive, reptilian brain, which typically operates in “fight or flight” mode.  The old brain has been around for millions of years.  But language, learning and the written word are relatively recent developments.  So as much as we prize our education, training, and intellect, we’ve still got to get past lizard brain. Which brings us back to being raw, emotional, instinctive, and unexpected.

What pleasant surprises can you create for your clients?  In addition to providing them with a solution or service, how can you leave them smiling as well?

Leave a Comment