Marketing The Unexpected

Today, we live in an age of disengagement. Consumers are bombarded with close to 30,000 messages a day. People’s attention spans are less than 8 seconds. They can’t be apart from their phone for more than 6 minutes and check it up to 150 times a day. And, needless to say, they don’t have time for advertisements: they use ad blockers and heavily distrust brands. So how do brands respond to this new consumer? In times of disengagement, brands need to market the unexpected to get and keep attention.

Marketing the unexpected is about finding the inflection points in the customer journey, points where motivation is high but competition is either low or nonexistent. Targeting a customer at this point of the journey ensures that people will have the attention, motivation, and the ability (simplicity) to perform the desired behavior.

Today, most of our marketing efforts focus on increasing motivation in a familiar environment. We do TV ads that run on expected TV programs. We run banner ads on expected publishing site. And we sponsor tweets in the right conversation in Twitter.

This is rational, but we are playing in a crowded space. Everyone is doing it and following conventional rules will only get us so far. And the Goliaths of the world, the brands with the biggest marketing budgets, are more likely to win in this game anyways. But we’re operating in a different kind of market and, therefore, need a different approach.

Marketing the unexpected requires a shift in our marketing equation:


Expected Marketing = High Motivation (Right Place + Right Time) + Competitive Environment


Unexpected Marketing = High Motivation (Right Place + Right Time) + Non-Competitive Environment

Below are a few examples that really bring the point home.

Hotel Banks & Pimkie: Guests can choose curated items from in-room “Mini Fashion Bar”

Most people love traveling. But when their unpacking their luggage, they might feel like they forgot to pack something. This is why Pimkie developed a whole new shopping concept: the Mini Fashion Bar. It’s just like a regular minibar, but with clothes and accessories for women. All items are specially selected to match the weather, location, and events of the place you’re staying at. A dedicated fashion concierge can also be contacted for additional sizes or different garments. And if guests really loved the items, they can purchase them upon checkout.

Rescue Drive Orca: People can go through a test drive when they are thinking the most about changing their car: when it breaks down.

Orca Chevrolet is promoting the new Chevrolet Cobalt in Brasilia with the Rescue Drive (Resgate Drive), a cunning plan designed to lift the spirits of people who’s cars have broken down. In partnership with a tow car company, the Chevrolet Cobalt was taken to people at the very moment when they’re thinking the most about changing their old car: when it breaks down.

The scenario: A person’s car breaks down and they call a tow car. The tow car shows up with a Chevrolet Cobalt, inviting the customer to take the Cobalt for a test drive to wherever they were headed before their car broke down. Orca Chevrolet was able to transform a stressful moment into a carefree and pleasant moment for everyone who participated.

Snack Holiday: Air Tickets so cheap that you buy them as a snack

Milk, bread… and plane tickets? Supermarket customers in France can add airline tickets to their shopping lists thanks to a unique promotion by a budget airline. For a limited time, Transavia France is offering cheap flights with packets of crisps, gummy bears and cereal bars at participating shops. Customers who buy one of the products before the #SnackHolidays promotion ends on April 21 will find a voucher code that can be redeemed online for a discounted flight to one of three destinations within Europe.

In summary, in times of disengagement, we need to fight the convention. We need to sail on uncharted waters as opposed to following the pack. Only by creating an unexpected brand experience we can delight customers and stand out in today’s sea of content.

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