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AMiable Solution #311: Winter Surprise

Earlier this week, while we were dealing with snow and rain, the folks in western Maryland—Allegany County, specifically—experienced something unusual: thundersnow, a snowstorm with thunder and lightning.

Thunder and lightning in the winter? It sounds crazy, right? According to a 2011 report by ABC News, thundersnow is a real thing, but it happens in only 0.07 percent of snowstorms. That’s pretty rare.

But that’s why people make such a fuss when thundersnows occur. They’re unexpected. And exciting.

If your marketing is humming along at its usual winter pace, maybe now’s the time to zap a little thrill into your campaigns. Maintaining your company’s style and promoting your products and values in a recognizable way is essential to building your brand identity, but throwing in a twist here and there to ignite interest and shake things up doesn’t hurt, as long as you do it responsibly.

Sadie Cornelius, director of marketing at Cover Story Media and contributor to, says using the element of surprise in your marketing helps make your promotions stand out from the pack. Surprising customers with your marketing not only makes it more likely that your efforts will be seen, but also that they’ll be remembered.

One way to do that? In her 2014 article, “Seven Ways to Awe Your Audience with the Element of Surprise,” Cornelius recommends stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing the boundaries with your message and graphics. Do something unexpected that will cause your regular audience and your prospects to do a double-take.

But make sure you start with something small to test the reaction. Surprising your customers can go one of two ways: “oh, yes!” and “oh, dear, what have we done?” Big risks bring big rewards, but they can also bring disaster. Choose your thundersnow wisely.

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