My father, a small church preacher, never made more than thirty or forty thousand dollars a year. He had five kids to feed. He couldn't afford to buy us an Atari. He only bought us action figures on our birthdays and for Christmas. He took us out to eat or to the movies a handful of times each year.
My father had to be frugal with the little money he had to spend on entertainment, but it forced my brothers and me to use our imaginations, and boy did we ever! My brothers and I grew up in a complete fantasy world. We drew epic stories on paper. Handmade paper baseball uniforms for our stuffed animals. Raced garage-part boats down our backyard creek. Ran our own makebelieve newspaper company. And we invented games – so many games.
A small list of our made up games included, "If You Walk, You Win," "Mary's It In the Tree," "Fat City," "Purple Gnap," "Book Game I, II, and III," "Scheme," "The Gorn," and "Torture" (which was exactly what it sounds like).
But my favorite of all our games was called "Beep!"
The idea was simple. It was like the "Gong Show." One kid got to be the judge and sit in the judge's chair. He had an imaginary button – "the beeper". The other kids took turns performing 30 second comedic skits for the judge. If you weren't funny, you got "beeped." You got another try after everyone else had a turn. If you made the judge laugh, you got to be the judge – which came with great prestige!
Over the years of playing "Beep", I observed that there were lots of ways to make a person laugh, but the successful skits always involved the element of SURPRISE.
My best "Beep" bit came when I pulled my socks up high and balled up tissue paper in them so it appeared like I had huge calf muscles like one of the all-star baseball players in our little league named Jarod Saunders.
I strutted out in front of the judge (my brother Matt at the time). His hand was hovering over the invisible "beeper." He saw my massive calves but said, "I don't get it, what's funny about that?" Then I turned and strutted away. I had written "SAUNDERS" in magic marker on the back of my shirt, like a baseball jersey. When all the pieces connected, Matt burst into a fit of hysterics. My siblings were watching from the door and they too had completely lost it. It was an instant classic and needless to say, I got the judge's chair.
Why I'm sharing this story with you is simple. If you want your prospecting messages, presentations, followup notes, proposals, websites, landing pages, and self-marketing campaigns to get the right response and be remembered, the element of SURPRISE must be present. Otherwise, you'll be "BEEPED."
Challenge yourself to introduce a clever surprise with every communication to customers and contacts. Let them fill in the mental blanks, connect the dots, activate their imaginations, enjoy the unexpected. In return, they'll give you more than the chair – they'll give you their money, their referrals, and their loyalty.