Do the Unexpected

I was invited last week to a local business awards event hosted by my friends here at Concur Breeze. Aside from showcasing local innovative companies, the event was notable because the Concur Breezers were there, demonstrating how easy expense reporting can actually be.

What I love about Concur’s “Tracking Not Stacking” Harley Davidson motorcycle tour is that it is just so darn unexpected. When a business has a great product, of course you expect a nice website, maybe some video, testimonials and the like. But you do not expect that a few members of the team will hop on Hogs and tour the country demonstrating the product. Very cool, that.

It is a good lesson for the rest of us.

As I am wont to say, one key to long-term business success is having a good marketing recipe – you do the same thing again and again and get predictable sales and results. It’s how we make our dough (groan!).

But when you really want to kick things up a notch you need to do something new, something more, something unexpected. Doing the unexpected allows new people to be exposed to your business and reminds old customers why they chose you in the first place.

For instance, let’s say that you own a hardware store and have robust online presence. When someone comes to your site, they would expect to find tools and other products for sale, and probably even some demo videos. That is expected. But what if you also offered a smartphone app that analyzed how much time and money a project would take, say, a “home remodeling money and time calculator”? Now that would be unexpected, and welcome, and memorable.

It is that last point that is most important. Doing the unexpected allows you to be heard above the din. It gives people reason to notice and remember you. Think about those old Geico caveman commercials. They were funny, yes, but more importantly, seeing cavemen in tennis outfits or business suits was unexpected and memorable.

So the key is to do something out of the ordinary. There are no shortages of shoestring marketing avenues available, everything from co-op advertising and overnight radio to Linking In and pay-per-click. What about creating a pop-up store? What about creating a publicity stunt? If you own a Mexican restaurant, have a spicy food eating contest. The idea is all the same.

By doing the unexpected you catch people off guard, grow your brand as an innovator, and capture new eyeballs.

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