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The Art of "Surprise and Delight" and Implementing it into your Event Career

**NACEEXP17 SESSION SNEAK PEAK**

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
 
In a competitive industry full of talent and brilliant communicators, how can you make your business stand out and create demand for your products and services? Employing a “Surprise and Delight” strategy can help you gain exposure and increase word-of mouth. It's marketing magic for an event professional – but you must get it right. 

 
By definition, surprise and delight “is a marketing strategy in which companies randomly select an individual or group to receive a gift or special experience. It can be a very effective marketing tactic for companies, especially in an age where customers are just one tweet away from brands and vice-versa.”
 
Anyone who watches any amount of daytime television will recognize surprise and delight tactics from the grand giveaways on talk shows hosted by the likes of Oprah and Ellen Degeneres. A sponsoring business presents audience members with a generous gift causing cheers and squeals of excitement. As long as the gift lives up to its promises, the sponsor is rewarded with top-quality word-of-mouth and major exposure, increasing brand awareness and the demand for its products.
 
Why Surprise and Delight?
 
Is it necessary to go to such extremes to win favor and increase referrals to your business? There are many proven benefits to surprise and delight campaigns. These include:

 
  • Increase in value. More than half of shoppers say they would pay a higher price for the customer experiences they value most. Surprise and delight campaigns allow you to prove that you are able to offer experiences worthy of attention and premium pricing.
  • Increased Customer Engagement.  The nature of surprise and delight includes intrigue and anticipation. This can be shared and spread via social media channels. By choosing the right opportunities, you can dramatically increase your public interactions with an exciting message.
  • Bounce Back from a Crisis. Nothing can redirect negative feelings like a feel-good and generous surprise and delight campaign. Change the narrative by giving away some of your very best work and benefit from a well-intentioned distraction.
  • Enjoy an Uptick in Referrals. Delighted customers cannot be silenced. In fact, 61% of consumers would tell friends and family about their experiences. If more than half of your happy clients rave to their friends and family about your extraordinary service, what does that look like for your referral base?
  • Build Brand Loyalty. By incorporating surprise and delight experiences into your ongoing marketing plan, clients are encouraged to return again and again, always with the secret hope of joining your elite group of “winners”.

Implementing a Surprise and Delight Campaign
 
Like any important marketing endeavor, surprise a delight campaigns must be carefully implemented. First, determine what your strengths are. What do you do best? What can you do that sends your best clients over the moon? Your goal is to make some noise, so make sure you do it by featuring the top products and services in your arsenal.
 
Next choose your timing carefully. When are your clients most in need? According to their point of view, what key opportunities can you find to leverage? How can you meet a big need in a big way to achieve even bigger results?
 
Collect the necessary information, over time. In order to pull off grand surprise and delight plans, you need to know your clients, their needs, and how to reach them. Now, don't be creepy about gathering this information! But find legitimate ways, including surveys, quarterly update meetings and just perceptive interaction, and develop a system for maintaining these details in a way that you can access when the time is right.
 
Finally, make sure you surprise and delight an ongoing marketing strategy. The time between events should be enough that you are able to fully capitalize on the previous but not lose momentum for the next.
 
There is no doubt that the events industry is highly competitive and that it can be tough to really stand out from the field. Surprise and delight can be your ticket to an incredibly positive, effective campaign to increase engagement, exposure, and ultimately referrals. It will certainly result in happy clients, and no marketing goal is better than that!
 
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting