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Newsletter #959: The “We Don’t Normally Do This” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

When you say “We don’t normally do this, but…” to your customers, it gets their attention. People know something good, something interesting, and most importantly, something rare is about to happen. People love talking about these exceptional moments.

Here’s how:

1. Give them an exceptional experience
2. Show them some empathy
3. Do something good
4. Check it out: Five Boroughs: Building Ages in NYC

1. Give them an exceptional experience

Photo thanks to @Mets

Photo thanks to @Mets

When the Mets were playing an away game in Arizona, they invited their fans in Queens to watch the game on the jumbo screen and enjoy a sleepover on the Mets’ home field. For a lot of fans, it was a dream come true (when else will they get to sleep on a Major League Baseball field?) — and for the Mets, it was an opportunity to make the most out of something they weren’t using anyway. This is the kind of experience folks will talk about for a long time.

The lesson: What exception could you make for your fans to have an experience worth telling their friends about?

Learn more: Queens Courier

2. Show them some empathy

Going to the movies is nearly impossible for new parents. After all, you can’t take a crying baby to a theater, and finding a babysitter is usually more trouble than it’s worth. A stickler for a quality experience, Alamo Drafthouse doesn’t usually allow infants at screenings, that is, except on Baby Days. For these special screenings, the Alamo raises the lights just a little so parents can fish around in diaper bags and they lower the sound just a bit to keep from hurting young ears.

The lesson: By having Baby Days, Alamo targeted a specific group of people to let them know they understand what they’re going through — and when it comes to earning word of mouth, empathy goes a long way.

Learn more: Alamo Drafthouse

3. Do something good

Photo thanks to The Drum

Photo thanks to The Drum found itself in the middle of a viral hoax when one guy tweeted a fake letter from the company saying they refused to buy his child’s plastic toy car (after all, they’re supposed to buy any car). But instead of simply issuing a statement that the letter wasn’t real, they created The site explains the company will buy 100 toy cars for $10 and donate the money to a road safety charity. This move showed that they were willing to make an exception to help do something great for a cause.

The lesson: made the most of this unexpected opportunity and earned their fans’ respect in the end.

Learn more: Engadget

4. Check it out: Five Boroughs: Building Ages in NYC

Photo thanks to

Photo thanks to

See a map of buildings in New York City color-coded by the year of their construction in this piece of art by computer programmer Brandon Liu.

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