Friday, July 3, 2009

I WEonder What I would Do If One of My College Roomates Recognized Me Now!

You're traveling on business to San Diego. The plane will be landing in about 15 minutes. You have one bag to pick up at baggage claim before you make your way to the car rental desk to get the car you reserved.

The plane lands and you begin the trek to baggage claim. When you get to the carousel, you see a familiar face smiling at you. It's your college roommate, who is also in town on business. Surprise!

Know what your brain does next? First, it immediately kicks into high gear and begins working out a way to deal with this new and unexpected set of circumstances. This is called "neuroplasticity," or the changes that occur in the organization of the brain as a result of an experience. Unscientifically speaking, during this kind of an event, chemicals are released by the body as a result of the emotions that occur in this instant. Those chemicals bond with "receptors" in the brain and help form a connection or associative memory.

So, now, for years, you'll remember the business trip you made to San Diego, probably more than most trips you made that year. Not because of the mundane business part of it, though. What makes the memory last is the fact that you got surprised.

Surprise is one of the most effective marketing tools there is. When you surprise your customer, you cause his/her brain to begin firing rapidly and quickly making certain kinds of connections. The connections made will cause an associative memory related to the emotions that the surprise elicits, ultimately linking your brand to the emotion they feel.

In the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, "Our emotions are designed so that they reinforce chemically something into long term memory. That's why we have them."
Which is to say that without emotions, we would have no memories. Except the ones we program into our brains, like when the Civil War took place or our multiplication tables. Yawn.
Whether you're advertising or conducting business, adding the element of surprise to your business model is a sure-fire way to build brand loyalty and incite conversation about your brand.

What are some ways you can put surprise to work for you?

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