The motto “create unexpected joy” hangs on a poster that is visible all over the office at one of my favorite startups, GiveForward. It’s such a simple idea, but it actually drives the success of many concepts (and companies).
For example, there is a great TED talk on why some videos go viral (and why most don’t), done by the trend master at YouTube. One of the key factors in most viral videos is “unexpectedness.” Why do we love to see kittens and puppies so much? Most of the time they do things that are completely out of the blue…like acting human, crashing, or cuddling with other animals. Take almost any viral video on YouTube and apply the framework of something unexpected happening, and you’ll be surprised how often this concept applies.
The same can be said for successful companies. Everyone’s favorite example if Zappos for customer service. However, they were merely creating unexpected joy for their customers. Free overnight shipping if you ask for it? Unexpected. Asking their customer service reps to order you a pizza? Definitely unexpected.
How about more modern concepts like Square or TaskRabbit. Square creates joy by making something crazy complicated a joy to use with its hyper focus on user experience. TaskRabbit makes it easier for everyone to streamline errands affordably, creating joy by saving time and money. Subscription box type businesses (like BirchBox, BabbaCo, and GoodKarma) thrive on this idea by having people pay money ahead of time for things they don’t even choose to purchase! The whole novelty is having a delightful surprise at your door every month, be it makeup, kids activities, or baby clothes.
Is your startup creating joy? Even at Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, our events do this by being completely informal and friendly…usually people expect speaking events to be stuffy and corporate, but ours are held at intimate theaters with a casual air in order to accomplish that unexpected joy.
Think about ways you can incorporate this concept into your startup, whether it’s through marketing, customer service, or product design. If you are not creating unexpected joy, chances are your competition is.