The Familiar Surprise

I recently had the pleasure of watching a TED talk by economic writer @DerekThompson titled ‘the Four-letter code to selling everything’. Derek explains the Theory of the Familiar Surprise – a proven observation that in order for the vast majority of customers to accept a product, service or idea, it needed to be new. But just new enough to resemble something familiar.

Throughout modern history, there has been evidence of this.

Why did the first ‘aircraft’ have wings? Possibly because our most familiar reference of flight — birds had them? Why did the earliest automobiles look like carriages with motors? The familiar made new? More recent inventions also show this. Take telephones – they evolved from bulky, heavy objects to sleek, almost weightless smartphones. Each improvement mirroring its predecessor, but new.

In the light of the Theory of the Familiar Surprise, how do businesses ensure that their new products and services succeed? Entirely new products or services strike consumers as alien and unfamiliar, while dialing down the novelty makes them like the million others out there.

How do we find that sweet spot? That’s where Content Communication steps in, to play a major role.


Creating a Story Unique to your Product/Service

The product you offer may be similar to the many out there. However, there is still a story to it that is unique to your business. The business challenges you’ve observed, the conceptualization of the solution, the development – all have a hidden story. Bring out that story, and you have a solution that may be familiar, but offered with a positioning that is uniquely yours.

On the other hand, you might have a one-of-a-kind solution with its own features and benefits that few others can boast about. Now what do you do? The fear of the unknown is a real and prevalent danger that you face and may prove to be an impediment for growth. Content Marketing once again saves the day! Humanize the solution. Talk about the problems it solves, rather than the nuts and bolts of the how. Place technology on the back burner and bring the human connect to the forefront. Focus on the people that built the solution and the ones that use it. Stories weaved around a human touch have a better probability of striking a chord with an audience, because the problems, achievements and thoughts are familiar.


The Power of Many – Using Multiple Forms of Content

Whitepapers are often the first weapon of choice when introducing a new product, solution or direction for the company. You start getting great traction initially on the whitepaper and then it starts waning. Interest starts to die down. Why? Because it becomes too familiar. It has reached enough people and they don’t want to read it anymore.

Luckily for you, content doesn’t come in one form or size. Modern content marketing offers a plethora of content forms to shape the same messaging into a new and fresh form that guarantees a break in the monotony. Here are some examples:

  1. Blogs
  2. eBooks
  3. Infographics
  4. Videos
  5. Comic strips
  6. Social media campaigns
  7. Emailers
  8. And many more…

With each form, you get the opportunity to freshen up the message and bring back the novelty of your offering.

Content Marketing has evolved over the years into a potent communication tool for every business strategy. With the right team of content marketers supporting your business, you can truly focus on creating innovative products and solutions that solve customer challenges. Leave it to us, Content Marketers, to create that familiar surprise for you.

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