The Psychology of a Surprise: How It Can Help Your Business

 In Be The Leader, Create Community, Create Loyalty, Drive Traffic, Remarkability

Did you know that the human brain is wired to focus attention on things that are new or different? Think about it. If you drive the same route to work everyday, you stop “seeing” all the houses and trees that have become so commonplace to you. But, if someone cuts a tree down, or puts up a new sign, you notice right away. Or, when you’re used to hearing background noise in the city as you fall asleep, the quiet in the countryside can be deafening. It’s hard to stop “hearing” it.

The region of the human brain that responds to new stimuli (like seeing the new restaurant on your block, or hearing a new song) is close to the areas of the brain that play roles in memory and motivation. New sights, sounds, and experiences are more easily remembered and motivate us to “keep exploring” our world for rewards (more new experiences).

The element of a surprise also intensifies our emotions by about 400%. If you know you’re going to get a $100 bonus at the end of the month, you’ll be pretty happy and content when the check arrives. But, if you get a surprise $100 bonus at the end of the month, you’re likely to feel even happier because it was unexpected.

So, what does this mean for you as a small business owner? Last week, we shared 10 Easy Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers. While not one of the tips was to throw a surprise party (but, hey, that could work too!), they all involved elements of the unexpected – meant to give your customers a little something extra and make them smile. After reading a little about the psychology behind a surprise, you can see why these little rewards would be good for business! Customers would…

  • Remember their experience at your store or restaurant,
  • Experience amplified emotions about their experience (happiness, excitement or gratitude),
  • and would be likely to return to your business in a subconscious search for more “rewards.”

Pretty cool!

Have you used any surprises to delight your customers? How did that work out? Share your stories with us in the comments section below!


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