Be the thing they didn't see coming

Posted by CJ Maurer

Chaos is the law of nature. You might think chaos means abject randomness. It doesn’t. Chaos is actually a pattern. But it’s a level of order too large for the brain to comprehend.

Campfires, trees, clouds and ocean waves are all examples of chaotic systems. The reason why we’re transfixed by these things is actually quite simple. Your right brain – responsible for pattern recognition – senses the pattern and is therefore intrigued by the chaotic system. But the pattern is far too large for your left brain – responsible for logic, facts and reason – to actually make sense of or comprehend. This creates a subconscious state of confusion. And the word we usually use to describe it is beauty.

Chaos is the law of nature. Order is the dream of man.

Once order is established, we’ve “figured it out” and know how to categorize something, it’s less likely to garner our attention. In the same breath, our brains are uniquely conditioned to recognize and respond to the unpredictable.Involuntary reactions to unpredictable senses in the wilderness are actually what enabled the survival of humankind. Those who weren’t drawn by the unpredictable (a sudden rustling in the leaves) didn’t live long enough to become our ancestors. Survival of the fittest, ya dig?

You’re driving down the highway at 67 miles-per-hour. What do you notice? Only that which wasn’t there yesterday.

“We need to create a better experience for our customers.”

“How do we get more people talking about us?”

“Why don’t more people remember our advertising?”

Influencing people begins with persuading them to interact with you more than they already are. To be persuasive you have to gain and hold attention. If you’re saying things and doing things that people have heard before, you’ve given them no reason to pay attention to you.

You even have a part of your brain performs this function like a door man at a night club. It sniffs out the new and unpredictable like a hound dog and sends the predictable stuff packing. In other words, you don’t need anything you already have.

The only way you’ll gain and hold attention, win influence and motivate people to talk about you is if you give them something new or interesting.You almost have no choice but to be unpredictable.

Here’s an idea. Break down every stage of interaction with your “customers” or whomever you serve into categories. If you’re a car dealership, your list might look something like this.

  1. Phone call or email
  2. Dealership visit
  3. Initial consultation
  4. Test drive
  5. Financing and negotiation
  6. Delivery of vehicle
  7. Ongoing service

For each category, make a list of things that most people in that situation would expect. What have they been told? What are the industry standards? What experiences might they already be used do?

Then, start making a list of things they absolutely would not expect. Write down literally anything. Like offering people foot rubs while they wait. Don’t hold back. If you approach this with any amount of sincerity, you’ll have no problem finding at least one thing that (1) people would certainly not expect, (2) you’re perfectly capable of executing on and (3) would most likely influence their experience with you in a positive way. Hand-written thank-you notes at an unexpected time are the most widely-used example of this. But guess what? They freakin’ work.

No one tells a story her friend has already heard.

Be the thing they didn’t see coming and let your story spread for free.