Viral Word Of Mouth Marketing – Part 2: Surprise and Delight Campaigns

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Part one was on referral marketing.

Word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, but how do you generate it naturally? You have a good product, your marketing is good, and yet no one is talking about you. What gives?

Well, why aren’t people talking about you?

Honestly, it’s probably because you’re a boring topic. People usually tell stories when they have something interesting about them.

So give them something interesting. Surprise them. 

‘Surprise and delight’ campaigns are awesome for building word of mouth. Not only will these campaigns build loyalty with your current customers, but will bring new ones in. There’s something about getting something unexpected that ‘delights’ customers, and prompts them to tell their friends about it.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of ‘surprise and delight’ is a restaurant I went to one day. We were getting ready to order, and then the waiter asked if my date and I would like to try a new recipe they’re working on, on the house. I thought, yeah, that’d be great, and they brought out one of the best crab stuffed mushrooms I’ve ever had. The waiter asked what we thought, and we loved it, so we told them. Not only that, anytime anyone asked about a good seafood restaurant, I recommend this place, because I feel loyal to it. (Newport Cafe in Newport, Oregon, if you were wondering.)

Surprise and delight is a great way to bring in new customers, but it has to have both surprise and delight. Don’t give everyone the surprise every time, otherwise people will come to expect it, then it’s just a perk (which is good in it’s own right, but it’s not a surprise).

To best illustrate what surprise and delight is and what it isn’t, here’s a story by Ty Kiisel, the editor here at the Lendio blog. Ty had been going to get a haircut at this one shop for a while, and then this happened:

“Thanks for being such a good customer,” she said. “This haircut is on the house.”

I was surprised and excited about the fact that the place I got my haircut was paying attention. Until the next time it happened when my stylist said, “Since this is your tenth haircut, this haircut is free.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to get a free haircut, but I wasn’t as thrilled that they were counting how often I came in and that I’d “earned” it. I know it was unrealistic to assume that she had just randomly determined, because of my “Good Customer Status” that I should get a free haircut, but for some reason it just made me feel better—maybe even more special.

Where I get my haircut now I have a punch card so I know exactly what kind of discounts I’m earning. Except for the fact that I have to remember to keep my punch card handy, I’m happy for the discounts. Nevertheless, I much preferred the ‘surprise and delight’.

To find the right kind of ‘surprise and delight’ campaign, answer these three questions:

With ‘surprise and delight’ campaigns, you’re going to create a memorable experience for your customer, build brand loyalty, and generate new customers through word of mouth.

What ‘surprise and delight campaigns’ have you seen? Did they work for you?

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About the author

Erik Larson
Erik Larson frequently writes for Lendio about SEO, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Business Loans, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He can be found on Google+ and Twitter.


  1. Our startup, Ayoopa, is an online rental marketplace for travel and outdoor gear. We have a partnership with Kind Bar since we share customers with similar demographics. Occasionally, we throw in a pack of Kind Bars when a customer is going on a hiking or camping trip. Small gesture, but customers love it since they’ll probably be hungry during their hike or while at their campsite.

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