How to start conversations by doing something unexpected

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Sometimes the simplest way to get people talking about your stuff is to do something they wouldn’t expect. This is about more than crazy stunts or random promotions — it’s about finding the right balance of unusual and useful to start amazing word of mouth.

Here are some ways you can do it:

1. Make it easier to have difficult conversations
2. Give them more reasons to come back
3. Be unexpectedly honest

1. Make it easier to have difficult conversations

Here’s a weird promotion: Urology Associates of Cape Cod is giving away a pizza with every vasectomy scheduled during March Madness. Would you get a vasectomy because the doctor offered you a pizza with the operation? Nah, probably not. But talking about sterilization can be intimidating. A lighthearted offer like this opens the door to having these serious conversations, or it can give that extra push for guys who have been considering the operation.

2. Give them more reasons to come back

It’s no secret that with digital alternatives and a difficult economy, public libraries are hurting. So to get more people back in the door and reinforce the idea that libraries are also about communities, Colorado’s Basalt Regional Library is renting plant seeds too. You plant the seeds you get from the library, grow a plant, and bring back the seeds it yields. While it may not have a lot to do with books, it’s an unexpected service that gets people talking about them, visiting the library, and even writing articles about it.

3. Be unexpectedly honest

Chipotle is known for their gigantic burritos and earth-conscious effort to buy naturally raised meat. But when one store ran into a shortage of this kind of beef, they had to temporarily replace it with with conventionally raised beef. But instead of trying to hide it, they let everyone know what was going on with a sign in their store. They probably could have served the replacement steak without many of their customers telling the difference. Instead, they did something unusual by telling everyone the truth — and earned tons of respect and word of mouth for doing it.

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