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Surprise and Delight

All great brands and products surprise and delight. Marketing professionals love surprise-and-delight campaigns. A marketing strategy that focuses on surprise and delight usually involves randomly selecting some customer to receive a free product or experience. But there is one thing that marketers salivate over even more than surprise-and-delight campaigns: products that actually surprise and delight.

Not long ago, I was meeting with a friend who talks about his car every time I see him. About two years ago he bought his first luxury car, and ever since, he has been evangelizing to everyone who will listen about the features, comfort, and performance of this car. It is clearly a surprise-and-delight product.

When I was leaving, I joked to his assistant, “Do you get sick of hearing about that car?” She smiled in a way that told me she was having a secret thought. I asked her what she was thinking, and she told me, “Well, I have to say, I do wish I had one. The other day I took it to the dealership for its regular service and oil change. They are amazing. It’s not even my car, but they treated me like a princess. Coffee, magazines, food and snacks; they offered me a quiet place to work; the personal attention never ended.” Wow. I walked away thinking, there is a brand that has combined a surprise-and-delight product with surprise-and-delight service.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a surprise-and-delight product has to be expensive. It has nothing to do with price. Ask people about their favorite fried chicken and you will see the look of surprise and delight in their eyes as they tell you why no other brand of fried chicken compares to their favorite. Ask mothers of young children about their favorite baby stuff and every single one of them will become animated as they tell you about some fabulous little thing that makes their lives so much easier. They have a disproportionate amount of appreciation for the object, whatever it is. There it is again: surprise and delight.

The surprise-and-delight factor is essential to every great product and service. Consider Amazon Prime—people are surprised and delighted by it. It started out as just free two-day shipping on all your orders (although just doesn’t seem like the right word). But today it includes a hundred perks, including access to free music, movies, television shows, and e-books. Different people love Amazon Prime for different reasons, but surprise and delight is at the core of its success. This is a huge example and something most organizations could not replicate, but don’t let that distract you. Whatever it is you do, whatever product or service you offer, you can surprise and delight your customers.

The guy in the car shop delights in the wrench that makes his role a little easier and a lot more enjoyable. The mother delights in the diaper that makes it easier for her to change her baby’s diaper with one hand tied behind her back (figuratively, of course). Chocolate lovers delight in that sprinkle of sea salt atop the caramel that completely changes the experience.

What products or services continue to surprise and delight you over and over again? We all have favorites, and if you delve into why you enjoy them so much, you will find that they surprise and delight you.

A Dynamic Culture surprises and delights in a similar way. At first people delight in experiencing such a culture, and over time they delight in telling others about it. Everyone boasts about being associated with an organization that has a great culture. And if you ask them to tell you about the organization, they won’t talk about the products and services. They won’t talk about market penetration and geographic footprint. They will talk about the people and culture of that organization.


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