Whether you're a Beyoncé fan or not (and really, who isn't a Beyoncé fan?) you can't deny the way her team has perfected their marketing strategy. Beyoncé utilizes a technique I like to call 'surprise marketing'.
For her team, gone are the days of going on publicity tours and spending countless hours promoting her latest endeavor. Instead, Beyoncé springs her latest projects on us with little to no warning - a tactic that's helped generate significant buzz and sales success for the artist.
What is 'Surprise Marketing'?
Surprise is arguably one of the most powerful marketing tools. When a marketer's able to build value in a product or service through genuine excitement, anticipation and surprise, the results can be exceptional. Let's take a look at the different methods Beyoncé and her team have utilized to surprise their audience:
Lemonade - HBO event and album release (2016)
Most recently, Beyoncé released a teaser video on HBO for a "world premiere event" that would air the following Saturday night. The teaser didn't divulge what this event was: a horror movie? A new album? A music video? No one knew for sure, and that uncertainty helped build buzz and drive more fan discussion about what the announcement could mean and the various possibilities of what Beyoncé could be launching.
As fans tuned in to HBO to watch the event, it became apparent that Beyoncé had created a full visual concept album. Midway through the HBO Event, Beyoncé then used Instagram to announce the release of her album on Tidal, and then eventually iTunes - a complete surprise to fans everywhere.
A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:20am PDT
Of course, it's too early to say how successful this tactic has been at this stage, but if it's anything like her 2013 album, this latest surprise marketing push could boost Beyoncé to more record-breaking success, and the surrounding buzz and anticipation generated by this approach suggests that she's definitely on that path.
"Formation"- Single Release (2016)
On the eve of Super Bowl 50, Beyoncé released the single "Formation", along with an accompanying music video to her website. Rather than marketing the single prior to its release, as most performers to, Beyoncé chose the surprise marketing route once again. Beyoncé capitalized on the buzz of her upcoming halftime performance by releasing the song the night before the show, and then performed the single at the actual Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show.
Beyoncé - Studio Album (2013)
Back in 2013, Beyoncé surprised fans around the world with the release of her self-titled studio album, complete with full music videos. There was zero promotion or warning to anyone, it was simply released on iTunes and promoted via social media after the fact. Many wondered if the lack of promotion would hurt sales, but this surprise marketing technique did the opposite: The album entered the US Billboard chart at No 1, and became the fastest-selling album on iTunes worldwide with an estimated total sales of over 5M.
How Can Brands '"Pull a Beyoncé"?
For most companies, attaining the level of excitement and suspense that Beyoncé is able to garner doesn't come easy. However, brands can definitely incorporate some of these techniques of surprise marketing into their overall marketing strategy.
1. Provide Something Unexpected
Give your customers some sort of surprise reward for each purchase. Brands that advertise a "free gift with every purchase" or something to that extent, can build more excitement and drive customers towards making a purchase. It doesn't matter what the surprise actually is, the essence of the "surprise" itself is the value for the customer.
2. Exclusive Sales
Provide a sense of exclusivity and surprise for your customers. Many brands have been creating "scratch and reveal" or "peel and reveal" advertisements, where customers will scratch a box or peel a sticker to reveal what discount they will receive on their purchase. This creates anticipation and excitement for the customer, especially when they get the "best" discount possible.
3. Surprise Announcements
Rather than marketing your next sale several days in advance, try a surprise announcement for your next sale or giveaway. Email marketing is a great vehicle for utilizing this technique. Use a subject line like "SURPRISE: $5 off all purchases for the next hour", or something of that nature that will work best with your audience. This creates a sense of excitement and urgency that can help drive consumer action.
How Will You Surprise Your Audience Next?
The value of surprise is marketing has been perfectly executed by Beyoncé. Can you incorporate surprise into your marketing strategy?