Bring back some marketing mystery!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageMarketing today takes no prisoners. Its 24 hour, multi-channel, instantaneous and frequent assault on our eyes, ears and other senses is sometimes exhausting. And don’t forget that marketing now cannot mislead customers or be seen to be discriminatory or offensive in any way.

To compensate for this, marketing campaigns are now full of detail, tell a story, which can often be shocking and outrageous in nature, but still completely lacking in that most elusive of qualities - mystery.

Ok so I admit that some marketing nowadays is clever. Too clever perhaps, as often you are left scratching your head trying to understand its true meaning. But whilst clever and creative is most definitely in, holding something back and asking customers to actually think for themselves, just doesn’t seem to be the order of the day.

Who can forget those marketing campaigns years ago when brands alluded to something wonderful and intriguing, but refrained from actually spelling it out? Adverts for Guinness, Milk Tray, Diet Coke, Nescafe, Oxo, Honda, Renault, Andrex, Dulux, Gold Blend, Cadbury’s Flake (plus Caramel & Dairy Milk) and Levi 501’s in the 1980’s and 1990’s were synonymous with mystery and surprise. We were left intrigued, perpetually wondering and filling in the gaps about the product or service in question, which just added to their allure.

Mystery generates interest and curiosity

Mystery is a key element to all great storytelling, and people love to tell great stories. Without this element of mystery, our curiosity wanes. Most businesses don’t understand the power of mystery and instead present every feature and benefit of their brand to their customers. But we customers want some depth; we want to discover what lies beneath the surface of a brand on our own.

Mystery helps provide meaning to your brand; it allows people to learn something about your brand they didn’t know before. If we learn something new about a company that no one else knows, we are more likely to talk. However, if everyone already knows about a particular benefit, there’s no reason to talk about it. We talk and gossip about products, services, and brands because it benefits us; we gain status by providing new information. This basic, biologically-rooted drive helps explain why people naturally talk about that which is mysterious and unknown.

Here are three key ways to add mystery to your brand:

  1. Don’t say every benefit about your business in every business communication. If everyone already knows everything about you, they won’t have anything to tell their friends that their friends don’t already know, aside from how you may not have fully met their expectations
  2. Break a standard rule in your industry and don’t be afraid to be different
  3. Listen in to what your customers are suggesting and surprise them by actually doing it.

So if you want your customers to talk about you, surprise them. Delight them. Let them discover you on a totally new level. In essence, give your customers a reason to talk about you.  For dedicated marketing expertise and support that will add that much welcome subtle mystery to your business communications, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email