You can read the whole post here, but in Barry's words:
Here's my take:
It's easy to dismiss "buzz" and look down upon it as short term, but the way I see it, without some spark or catalyst, there will never be anything to talk about in the long term.
Most people, most businesses, NEVER do anything good enough, impressive enough or special enough to make people want to talk about them in the short term, long term, or ANY term.
WOM is not a self-starter. It needs a catalyst, a kick-start, something to get it roaring.
Surprise is that something. If WOM is the fuel for today’s effective marketing machine, Surprise is the spark that ignites it. And the brighter the spark, the more raging the ensuing inferno. In the seminal book on the subject, Andy Sernovitz, lays down the guiding principle of the genre:
“Word of Mouth Marketing isn’t about marketers or marketing. It’s about real people and why those real people would want to talk about you and your stuff.”
Granted, sometimes the "Why" is earned and ingrained over time. But these days, most of us don't have the time to ingrain in our brave new world of enlightened, cynical, information-omnivorous consumers. Consumers with more access to more data than any society in history. Consumers who won’t accept trade-offs. Consumers who take for granted that everything had better be right, every time…and know how to bitch loudly when it ain’t
When it comes to price, quality, after-sales service, the shopping experience, guarantees, the whole enchilada, these guys know what they want.
They want it all. More than that, they EXPECT it all.
And there’s only one way to please people who expect it all.
GIVE THEM WHAT THEY DON’T EXPECT!
So Surprise isn't a luxury or a figment of friviloity but a veritable necessity. And it ain't at odds with WOM, it's complimentary.
And as for the sad BailoutBooth example outlined by Ben and Jackie, perhaps the most important notion to keep in mind is that great Surprise is not yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. Surprise may be explosive, loud and powerful, but there needs to be a finesse involved when crafting it.
The caveat is that while garnering Surprise is great, it has to be "the right type" of Surprise. If I walked through Times Square with my schmecker hanging out of my pants, I'd get attention alright, but not necessarily the type that would endear me to others and concretize my professional relationship with them.
In outlining his Four Rules of WOM, Sernovitz validates the need for Surprise.
Rule #1—Be Interesting. Nobody
talks about boring companies.
Rule #2—Make People Happy. Happy people are your greatest advertisers. Thrill them.”
No need to even go to numbers three or four.
No need to even go to numbers three or four. Point made.