Seth Godin is probably my favourite thinker at the moment. You really should read his blog. He wrote one last week that was so brilliant that I would like to reproduce it in full here:
People don't care how much you offer them.
They care about whether you exceeded their expectations.
If you want to delight, if you want to create a remarkable experience, if you want people to talk about you or buy your stock, the secret is simple: give them more than they expected.
If I walk into your store and it looks and feels like stores I've been into before, my expectations are locked in. Now what? But if I walk into your showroom and it's like nothing I've ever experienced before, you get a chance to set my expectations, right? Marketing isn't merely bragging. Marketing creates a culture, tells a story and puts on a show.
In our rush to get picked or get noticed or build buzz, the instinct is to promise more. Perhaps it pays to promise less instead, to radically change expectations and to reset what it means to deliver on the promise of delight.
Are you offering more than they expect? Be more than just a comedian, be a poet, be a master of pathos, be a showman.
Godin’s advice reminded me of a letter that Teller (from Penn and Teller) wrote in reply to a rookie magician:
“Love something besides magic, in the arts. Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer, you will never be the first Brian Allen Brushwood of magic if you want to be Penn and Teller. But if you want to be, say, the Salvador Dali of magic, well there’s an opening.
I should be a film editor. I’m a magician. And if I’m good it’s because I should be a film editor. Back should have written operas or plays. But instead he worked in 18th century counterpoint. That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point than other contrapuntalists. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.”
In the comedy world this reminded me of the legendary Daniel Kitson. Kitson should have been a song writer or a poet, that’s why he is probably the greatest stand-up that has ever lived.
What are you offering that goes above and beyond what people expect?