Traditionally, the surprise factor has been an important competitive tool. Every good apprentice of Gordon Gekko repeated quotes from Sun Tzu as ” When a battle is waged directly, victory is won by surprise .”
But it seems that the surprise is falling into disuse : authors who write their online book (asking readers their opinion on different fragments or ideas through their blogs), companies that publicly discuss their product development plans, tools they collect from the public, the feedback of your customers …
In the digital world, there are rumors that circulate for months ( an Apple tablet?), Directed or not by companies.
Why uncover your secrets? Are not you putting it on a platter to your competitors to copy your know-how and your products?
The answer lies in the relationship between surprise and another essential factor for the launch of any product: the repercussion. Maybe your product is incredibly new, but if nobody talks about it, if there is no curiosity or expectation, sales will take much longer to take off.
I think the relationship between surprise and repercussion follows this kind of pattern:
Surprise vs repercussion
When there is nothing surprising in a launch, if all the details are known, the repercussion is minimal.
Undoubtedly, the impact is much greater when the appearance of a product is a big surprise, especially if it comes from one of the biggest players in the sector or one of the most popular brands, such as Apple or Google.
However, the repercussion can be maximized by creating expectations, letting people talk about the release before it occurs, “filtering” some details, not denying some rumors, etc., etc.
We could call it “Hollywood” marketing, with spectacular trailers, fan clubs and merchandise available even before the movie comes out. The surprise is reserved for some details of the product: rather a how it will be instead of what it will be. But the noise generated by the endless discussions about every little detail of the product can far surpass the simple “wow” of a complete surprise.