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NeuroTactic Overview

Surprise Effect

Surprising moments, when paired with an explanation, increase our enjoyment of an experience


When a group of patrons to a restaurant were broken into four groups, two groups were given a free dessert. One of those groups was given an explanation of why they received the dessert, and the other was not. The former group (which received the explanation) experienced the highest level of enjoyment out of all four groups.

When we receive an unexpected and personal gesture from a company or person, we feel appreciated and valued. When we receive an explanation of why we received the gesture, our delight increases even more.

When you are crafting your customer experience, it is critical to not only surprise your prospects and customers with gestures of kindness but also to reaffirm why they are receiving it. Keep in mind not to do this too often, however, as the effect will eventually wear off if experienced too frequently.

Primary Source:

Gyung Kim & Mattila (2013). Does a surprise strategy need words? The effect of explanations… on delight & expectations. Journal of Services Marketing

Dream Category:


The DREAM framework, created by Vivid Labs, represents a research-backed framework for effective marketing messages. It stands for Desire, Routing, Emotion, Attention, and Memorability.

AIDA Category:

AIDA is a well-known framework for assembling a marketing message. It stands for the four steps of human decision-making: Attention, Interest, Decision, and Action.

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Snake Oil walks you through using and testing NeuroTactics in your own marketing, along with other critical skills marketers need to have these days.