I remember before the birth of my first baby girl, Grace, in 2002. My husband and I were so excited to be expecting our first child. We decided we did not want to find out if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl until she was born. That’s when the judgments came out of the woodwork.
Some people were supportive of that decision, “How many wonderful surprises in life are there like that?” But others were flabbergasted. “In this day and age, why would you NOT want to know so you could properly prepare?” Well, we knew we were having an actual human BABY, so it was pretty easy to prepare! Car seats, crib, diapers, clothing… all manner of things we needed to care for the baby were purchased and made ready for our little arrival.
And when she was finally born, friends and family, neighbors and co-workers all wanted to celebrate with us!
Well, here we are in 2013, and the richest baby in the world was just born this week. In case you missed the news, England’s Prince William and his lovely wife Kate just gave birth to their first child, a son, who, it was announced the day after he went home from the hospital, is now named George Alexander Louis, or formally, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
The birth and baby naming were of great speculation around the world. Like many office pools for employees’ baby’s due dates, people around the globe speculated on the day the baby would arrive, the time, whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, and what the child’s name might be. Vegas and other gaming entities were giving odds.
Now that the baby is here and the big details are known, you can place bets on everything from little Prince George’s first words to where he will attend university (yes, seriously, you’ll be waiting a while on that truth to be revealed). It’s all exciting and fun to speculate about the big mysteries and celebrate once the truths are revealed.
Therein lies the lesson for marketers, speakers, and communicators of all kinds.
Given that Prince William and his wife have access to the best medical care in the world, they obviously could easily have known whether they were having a boy or a girl. In fact, they could have saved the British Parliament some trouble of passing the new law that said for the first time, this baby, whether boy or girl, would be third in line for the throne. No more patriarchy in the British monarchy. Girls now get equal opportunity to rule the kingdom. Maybe Wills and Kate kept the news a secret because they were ready for a little equal opportunity at the highest level. (That IS something to celebrate!)
Or, maybe, like my husband and I with the birth of our first child, William and Kate simply wanted a wonderful surprise. Or maybe they DID know and decided to keep it secret from the rest of the world. We may never know.
And then there’s the two-day delay in naming the child. Most parents have names chosen for their children before they arrive – or a choice for a boy and a girl. Or maybe they narrow it down to two to three names and wait to see what the baby looks like before finally deciding quickly after the baby is born. Yet, again, here William and Kate made the world wait and wonder before the celebrations around the baby’s name could begin, along with the sales I licensed products, apparel and mememtos of the occasion.
You can do the same thing in your marketing, communications, and even speeches.
Let’s look at a business example: Apple and the iThings. Whenever Apple releases an upgrade to it’s iPhone or iPad, there is great speculation about when and exactly what will be released. Sure, the tech world knows to expect a phone or a tablet, but exactly what the upgrades will entail is always a mystery until the official unveiling or some unfortunate advance leak, which happens only rarely. People line up for days to be first to buy or order and celebrate their opportunity to be among the first to do so.
Think about how can you be like William and Kate, or Apple. What products, programs, or services do you have coming out new or upgraded that you can start to hint about? Creating buzz in your industry is easy when everyone is wondering what’s coming. You could even hold your own “baby pool” contest asking customers and clients to guess what the name of a product or service will be or asking them to name it, choosing from a few.
Lay’s Potato Chips recently did this with a contest. They had fans submit ideas for new potato chip flavors via their Facebook page. What would they be?! Once the company chose the finalists – clearly they missed the best one – I suggested something with garlic – yum! – they released the new flavors into the market for snack-lovers to try. They created an ad campaign featuring chef Michael Symon and actress Eva Longoria to announce the finalists and urge “America” to decide which would be the winning flavor – by buying all three products and tasting them. The best seller would be the winner. Talk about boosting sales!
Think of each launch as a new baby. You can make videos, create special ads, get social media aflutter, and have industry experts guessing what’s coming next from you. Even in a speech, you can unveil the details as you go, for example in your introduction promising you’ll share “The #1 Secret All [name of your market] Need to Know About [your industry]!” Build suspense and excitement before and during your presentation.
Taken to even the most boring of levels, if you have to attend or lead a meeting at work – you can make the experience more fun and interesting for those attending by adding a little mystery. “Join us for this week’s budget meeting where we’ll discuss if we’ll be able to finance a new toy in the break room this quarter – and what we have in mind!” Or “Come see who gets this week’s Customer Care Award!”
A little suspense and mystery can go a long way in many professional situations. So take a lesson from Prince William and Kate, don’t give it all away right away… make your public crave the news. They’ll be on pins and needles waiting for it and your brand will benefit from the excitement and celebrations.