and we have one more to go.
Deadline to take advantage of the generous,
200 Free Pow! Books for Bloggers offer
is Friday, February 6.
Find out more and take advantage of it
by clicking here
A follow up to my post about "Mis-Managing Expectations," how the misdirecting DNA of Surprise is closely related to humor...and vice-versa. This example captures both the spirits cleanly, concisely and cleverly. An example I'll be using in my live Pow! speeches, but yours as an explanatory preview:
Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.
evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had
ever seen.Her natural beauty took his breath away.
may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years,
my father will die, and I'll inherit $65 million.”
“I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit $65 million.”
Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later…
...she became his stepmother.
I've been pondering the power of Surprise Marketing for about a decade.
I've been gathering relevant and powerful examples of the subject for five years.
I've been blogging about it for two-and-a-half of 'em.
Over the past year, I've written a book on the subject, and put together quite the entertaining stage presentation to accompany it.
And now, it looks like I've found a kindred spirit.
His name is Joseph Ferrara, and about a week ago in his provocative, prolific and often profound real-estate blog Sellsius, he laid down a post that captured and summarized the essence of Surprise Marketing in the most efficient manner I've seen outside the confines of Surprise Central. You can read it in its entirety by clicking here.
Although I'm flattered by his citation of yours truly within it, and enjoyed some of the examples he used (particularly that of Roy Flora of Microtel Inns), the true revelation was an academic paper called "Taking Relationship Marketing for a Joyride: The Emotion of Surprise as a Competitive Marketing Tool" by Joelle Vanhamme, Adam Lindgreen and Prof. Roderick J. Brodie he pointed to; the first I've seen that corroborates (and vindicates) some of the theories and concepts I've been advocating for years. For example, these excerpts:
"Merely satisfying customers is not enough, businesses need to delight their customers...it has been suggested that positive surprise is a necessary condition for customer delight and that customer delight translates into higher customer retention levels."
"Literature in psychology suggests that customer delight is a second-order emotion resulting from a combination of two first-order emotions, namely surprise and joy (Plutchik 1980). According to these findings, positive surprise might thus play an important role in customers' satisfaction and ultimately customer retention."
"Despite the widespread attention businesses have paid to positively surprising their customers, the possible correlation between positive surprise and customer delight has received only little attention in the (business and academic) literature."
Well, it has received only little attention...until now.
The dawn of a new era. We hope.
First of all, an initiative that obviously warms the cockles of the hearts of everyone here at Surprise Central, is the company's MYSTERY BOX program, which bundles together three business books for only $30, and donates all the proceeds to the well-deserving Room To Read charity.
Important to note that these volumes ain't the dregs hauled out of the remainder bin; the box contains one title that either won (or made the shortlist for) the best book of 2008 in its category for the site's annual "Best Business Books of the Year" competition ; the other two were titles that were submitted for the awards. Over and above, each bundle will include "In The Books," 800 CEO-Read's annual overview of bizbooks. And to top it all off, THEY pay the shipping.
How can you resist? Order yours now by clicking this.
And in an effort to promote its upcoming book "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time," the 800 CEO-Readers have launched a site where people like you and me can tell their personal stories of business books that have left an indelible influential mark on their psyches and souls, and why. Tell your story by visiting MyFavoriteBizBook.com; by the way, this was mine.
(Uh, P.S. to all you FOPs out there...I still don't see Pow! on the list...)
With the popularity of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, this just had to happen.
This from faithful FOP Chris Field, who I first met last year this time at the Shop.org event in Orlando (a place I wouldn't mind being right now given the recent deep freeze in the Northeast, but I digress):
Find out more and--heaven help us all--perhaps even buy some at AirGuitarStrings.com
Been a good year so far at Airborne. We raised some money, launched a brand new business, have three product launches in the pipe, and over this weekend, Garner and I will be featured on CBC Newsworld's business show "Fortune Hunters."
You can catch our story on Saturday at 6:30 and 11:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.
...or watch it on the site right now (we close it, use the scroll bar to head towards the final third of the show).
Pow! in the worlds of packaging and furniture design.
First, this (literally) revolutionary table that brings together the worlds of high-end design and skatepunk, and kinda speaks for itself.
The world's most expensive Lazy Susan--only $1795 and available at The Future Perfect in the hotbeds of hip, L.A. and Brooklyn.
Then there's this ingenious bottle design from Pratt Institute student Arianna Toft. Her assignment was:
Check out the brilliance of her solution. First, the Oliver Hardy bottle:
Well, the third installment of the Pow! video series is up on 800 CEO Read, and this one makes like Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
In other words, I'm making you an offer you can't refuse:
Yup. That simple.
Kinda. Here are the very simple rules of the game:
Jeez, you don't even have to have a business blog, you don't have to agree to kiss butt and review it...ya just have to want to actually read the thing!
So there you do. That's it. No tricks, no strings. 200 free books for bloggers.
It's that easy...
Or could there be, perhaps, maybe, something up my sleeve?
You can read this post's title two ways, and both would be considered correct--contractions of Obama and Art, as well as Obama and Mart.
As the 44th President prepares to take his most historic oath tomorrow, the worlds of commerce and content are abuzz with creations that range from the sorry (like Ashford and Simpson's "Solid As Barack," the unfortunate Martine-enraging remake of "Solid As a Rock") to the inspired.
In the latter category is Obamicon.Me, a site set up by Paste Magazine, where plebes like you and me can have our faces transferred into the inspired Shepard Fairey-iconic image that has adorned millions of posters and t-shirts. Here's what it did for yours truly...uh, do I get your vote?
When I was a boy...okay maybe not that young, but as a voracious reader of business books, I would turn to the recommendations at 800 CEO-Read to help me cut through the clutter.
Re-titled "Jack Covert Selects" (after the President and founder of the very specialized professional site/service), it's the place that turned me onto everything from Seth Godin's Purple Cow back in 2003 (and where I purchased a copy in a milk carton, if memory serves correctly), and Mark Stevens' "Your Marketing Sucks" all the way to both "Unstuck" and "Made To Stick." It's where I was introduced to Marcus Buckingham, Dan Pink, Alex Wipperwurth and Jeffrey Gitomer.
So here's the point--imagine how I felt when Pow! was honored this week as one of this month's "Jack Covert Selects." Lemme tell you, it's like the kid who grew up watching his idols play ball or hockey...and then gets to play beside them in the same stadium.
I can live with quotes like:
Whew! You can read the whole review by clicking here.
Or you can have it read to you by calling my Dad.
I've cracked the code.
I've mentioned a number of times here in this blog, and in my upcoming Pow! book, how closely related Surprise is to humor. Friday's post, the cognitive psyche experiment sent to me by Adam Lawrence, got me to thinking about it again, and I realized that the ol' "fork in the road" theory of joke-writing is at the core of the Surprise DNA.
essence, it works like this. Every joke
begins as a journey. The 'teller' takes
their audience by the hand and leads them down a playful path. They walk for a bit ('the set-up') until they
reach a juncture, the proverbial 'fork in the road.'
At that point, the teller subtly offers the
audience a sneak peek at their ultimate destination; that place in the distance
at the end of the right-hand turn.
But the humor comes when the teller suddenly and abruptly hauls the audience the other way, taking the left-hand turn down the unexpected route, (also known as 'the punch line')."
So what does this mean? It means that to create Surprise, what you have to do is go against the grain of conventional wisdom and "MIS-manage Expectations."
Let me put it another, more visual way. Check out the rudimentary diagram below:
The black line is the path where people think they're going. The red line is where you are actually taking them. The inflection point of Pow!, the white P, is that proverbial fork, the point where Surprise actually happens.
Spent the weekend reading WAY too many articles about how to cope with, deal with, survive in, prosper in, thrive in, handle, manage, protect yourself in, you-name-it-in the current recessionary times.
Which got me thinking about leadership, and the definition of it.
Don't remember where I heard it, but it doesn't get much better than this:
See ya in the recovery!
We make resolutions, and don't keep 'em.
Especially ones to "lose weight" and/or "get into shape."
Knowing this, gyms and fitness centers everywhere trawl for human fish who will sign up for a year's membership in January...and not show up again as of February (until they sign up again next January...well, you get the drift).
All this makes David Siscoe's proposal even more worthy of praise.
Pure Pow! at its best, the Montreal fitness expert (that's him above) is offering the out-of-shape and overweight a FREE membership to his gym--an INDEFINITE free membership, no less--with only one small catch:
Actually, to make it easier and accommodate travelers, David is averaging out the visits to 13 a month. Keep showing up and keep shaping up on the house. Drop below the bar and your membership becomes a paying one.
As David told the Montreal Gazette, "People say they want to work out, but they have no direction and no accountability."
And now, with an idea that's not just bold but benevolent, they have no excuse, either.
Well done, Mr. Siscoe!
Even more on the importance of novelty, this time from FOP Adam Lawrence.
Surprise and humor are intrinsically related (my Just For Laughs days provided a profound heritage, I guess), and as per this info, the former trumps the latter in the world of marketing and sales. As Adam puts it:
Being funny is not as important as whether you're expected to be funny. That's the explanation in a nutshell; here's the cognitive psychology post in its entirety. Fascinating.
As per yesterday's post about novelty, here's a sign I passed by on New Year's Eve in Spokane, Washington (on my way home from two gloriously snowy weeks at Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho, but I digress...).
It's from a musical instrument store called Dutch's, and whether or not this is true, it sure 'nuff is a traffic stopper...and a brain-shaker:
A key example of both "Business Stupidity" and "Shock and Ahh..." two of the nine major Suprise Marketing tactics outlined in my upcoming Pow! book. While the antithesis of the lame "Best Quality at the Lowest Prices" drivel that taints so many marketing messages (does anybody really believe that twaddle anymore?), Dutch's approach may not be everybody's cup o' tea, but it sure is more effective than the innocuous "Happy Holidays" or "Sale On Now!" seen in virtually every other store window on downtown streets.
One of the hottest business books of last year was Martin Lindstrom's "Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy," and because of it, Marty's been on a media tear, explaining his lengthy study of, and theories on, what he has coined "Neuro-marketing."
I really dug what he had to say to Holly Shaw in an interview in The Financial Post when asked about the effectiveness of anti-smoking warnings on cigarette packs:
As said here ad infinitum, the power of Surprise is disproportionate. Even a "little thing" like mixing up the placement of a health warning can have profound effects. I spent much time before the holidays discussing this subject with stress expert Loretta LaRoche, who has studied the effects of "newness" on the brain. As she puts it:
And it's Surprise that is a key provider of that novelty to our cranial area.
This Surprise stuff ain't frivolous, folks. More of this being researched, with findings to come soon.
Well, the votes have been tabulated and the results of the 800 CEO-Read video campaign to choose the author photo for my upcoming Pow! book are a landslide, with close to 60% voting for the eventual winner.
The final tally:
And the winner, the "Split Personality" Photo #3:
Thanks to all who voted, and look for the above in my back pages in bookstores everywhere next month.
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!
Yup, another year is upon us--well, at least for the lucky ones among us--and with it brings perhaps the onslaught of mainstream media musings and blogosphere blather that:
Faithful FOPs know my disdain for the latter, particularly because there is rarely any accountability for those Nostramuses (Nostradami?) who spout said predictions (a feeling captured so eloquently in this ranting post of a couple of years ago).
This is why one of my more enlightening and enjoyable moments of the holidays came in reading this a piece in Advertising Age entitled "Digital Predictions That Didn't Pan Out" by Abbey Klaassen and Michael Learmonth.
Their "Top Ten" things that were s'posed to happen but didn't are:
(Those are just the headlines; you should read the whole piece here. Well written and well documented.)
Indeed, the best way, the ONLY way, to predict the future is to lie.
Now it's not like I'm a "Nooge" (the New Year's version of a Scrooge, I guess), but one thing that 2008 proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that NOBODY KNOWS NOTHING.
Nobody. Not your Tarot Card reader, your broker, your CFO. NOBODY. Not even Warren Buffett, the once invulnerable oracle who was down 32%, which is a little solace for the rest of us who took a financial kick in the groin.
The message is simple. The worst word in busines, particularly in marketing as we are the prognosticators of the corporate world (the financial types merely provide us with enough support rope for which to hang ourselves) is of a true four-letter variety:
Uh..that is, when used as an auxilary verb, as in "This will happen." Trust me, believe me, it won't. At least not as you expect or predict it to.
However, when used as a noun, as in "to have the will to succeed," the word WILL becomes perhaps our most valuable.
So for 2009, forget about predictions and focus on actions instead.
Worry not about "what will be"; concentrate on what your "will" will be.