Andy Sernovitz, King of the Word-of-Mouth marketers (with hyphens!), this one's for you.
I've always said that Surprise doesn't have to be majestic to be effective. In this game, the effect is way more important than the cause.
For proof, consider the French Deli downstairs from where I'm staying in Vail. Now, this town is filled with the finest of restaurants (Kelly Liken and Sweet Basil to name just two) and some of the coolest, quirkiest places to see and be seen.
But every time I mention I'm staying in Lionshead Arcade, people say: "Isn't that where the French Deli is?"
Now the French Deli is far from unique. It serves sandwiches, cappuccino and other foodstuff staples. So do dozens of other places here.
What makes it stand out is its rather obtuse opening hours (see above). The weirdness of 7:44 a.m. and 4:01 p.m., as silly as it may sound, means way more than anything they serve. I've overheard people talking about it all over town--in liftlines, even at the local Starbucks. (And these guys stick to their guns, too. My son Hayes went down for a coffee at about 4:10 the other day. Zut alors..fair-may!)
The difference of one minute, a mere sixty seconds, is enough fodder for the Surprise sirens to be sounded.
Remember that the next time you're spending hours trying to think up ways to Surprise your customers.