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Chapter 9¾
Mystery Marketing to Engage Your Customer

Getting your audience to engage with your brand is the Holy Grail of marketing.

And when I say “Holy Grail,” I don’t mean having your audience get the Knights of Ni a shrubbery.

Nor am I talking about merely getting them to ‘like’ your Facebook posts.

(Don’t get me wrong. Getting likes is a good thing; it’s just not “Holy Grail Level” engagement.)

What I am talking about is getting your audience to take part in honest-to-goodness, time-invested engagement. Achieving that level of participation and interactivity signifies an emotional commitment to your brand.

After all, if someone is willing to spend their most valuable commodity – time – on you, then you’ve genuinely connected with them.

And there is no more potent way to engage your audience than through mystery. 

Why? Because we are obsessed with understanding the unknown.

As I mentioned in Chapter 16, there are three flaws in the human brain that copywriters exploit to influence and persuade. The second flaw, the Craving, is our incessant need for answers. When writing to persuade, your goal is to scratch the itch and satisfy that need for them.

But your goal with mystery marketing isn’t to scratch the itch – it’s to induce it. Get it going real good, and they’ll have no choice but to satisfy it on their own.

There are three types of mystery marketing techniques you can use to get them squirming in their seat. I used two of the three in the book. Let’s look at them in detail.

Type 1:  Puzzles

This is the type of mystery that got you here. It’s also probably what you envisioned when you first heard the phrase “mystery marketing.”

In the truest sense of the word, a mystery is a puzzle that needs to be solved. It is usually a narrative that provides clues which must be gathered and pieced together to arrive at the solution.

You might be thinking that this isn’t something you’re capable of doing, but that’s head trash. You don’t have to be Agatha Christy to create a good puzzle mystery. Simplicity is the key.

Consider what my hidden chapter mystery entailed:

  1. In the Conclusion of my book, I teased the fact that somewhere on this website lies the hidden Chapter 9-3/4.
  2. Then when you got here and clicked on Chapter 9-3/4, it turned out to be fake.
  3. But the secret to finding its true location was right there in front of you.

That’s not all that complicated, now is it? 

To get started, just ask yourself two questions:

  1. How can I capture the imagination of my target?
  2. What should they find when they start digging?

While it should go without saying, make sure what you’re doing is associated with your brand. Keep it all focused on the services you offer and do so in a positive light.

Which brings me to the solution. Your campaign will backfire if you make the mystery so difficult to solve that you leave your audience frustrated and annoyed. That’s not a feeling you want to be associated with your brand. So make sure the puzzle is readily solvable. 

One way to do this is by providing an all will be revealed on…” date. This also adds a “race against time” element for those that want to solve it before the deadline.

Another option is to do what I did: just flat out offer the solution to those that get stuck or don’t want to play the game. Though this should be at a price. Like maybe signing up for your newsletter.

Type 2: Obscurity

This one is the most difficult to pull off, especially for a small business like yourself. Obscure mystery marketing is the act of putting cryptic messages out into the world.

When done correctly, this type of mystery encourages word of mouth and organic conversations. It’s becoming more prevalent as marketers try to engage with the “ad-averse generation” (a.k.a Generation Z).

The most recent example of this type of mystery marketing, one that you may be familiar with, is the Doritos “no logo” campaign.

no logo campaign

While obscurity is a good way to generate buzz around your brand, it’s unlikely you have the money, resources, or cachet to pull off such a campaign. 

But what do I know? If you’re able to do it, please share your story in the comments below!

Type 3: Secrecy

We LOVE being an insider. Knowing a secret makes us feel like we’re a part of a selective circle of trusted confidants. This, in turn, deepens the bond you have with the brand.

In A Christmas Story, Ralphie couldn’t wait to receive his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Pin, officially inducting him into Radio Orphan Annie’s Secret Society. He would finally be a part of the “select few” that could decipher the important messages that Pierre Andre would read at the end of each episode.

In reality, however, the secret messages weren’t advertisements for Ovaltine (as the movie portrayed). They were usually teasers that related to the upcoming episode. You can imagine the effect this would have on kids in the schoolyard – one knowing something about that evening’s episode that no one else did?

This is a powerful position to be in. One that we enjoy at any age.

But you don’t have to create a secret society to take advantage of this technique. Easter Eggs work just as well. If you’re not familiar with the term, an Easter egg is something hidden that needs to be found, much like the real ones the Easter Bunny hides for kids.

Put simply, Easter eggs are a bonus of sorts: unnecessary additions to your content that will only ever be discovered by those in-the-know. (And still, they might not ever be found.) 

That’s the thing about an Easter egg, it isn’t meant for everyone. And as such, it doesn’t matter if people ever notice it. So the downside to hiding them is virtually nonexistent. 

But the benefits can be huge. For those that do find them, it will create an even stronger connection with you and your brand. 

There are two Easter eggs in Lobster on a Cheese Plate. Obviously, the first is the in-text movie references that weren’t directly quoted from the movie. I say “obviously” because I announce their existence in the introduction of the book.

For those of you that picked up on them, it added an extra special something to the reading, hopefully getting you more emotionally connected with the book.

The second Easter egg was for those of you that are “curious at heart.” The out-of-the-box thinkers that would have thought I wonder if there is … [insert egg here] as they read.

Unlike the first egg, I did NOT hint to its existence. 

Did you find it?

Conclusion

Mystery marketing is one of the most powerful ways to get customer engagement with your brand. What’s more, once you start doing it people will expect more of it, especially with Easter eggs.

Think about it, once a client finds one, they will keep looking for them in future content. This creates continual engagement, which further deepens the bond between you and your client. You don’t have to do them every time. In fact, you shouldn’t. It’s the randomness that keeps them deeply engaged.

So do it once and prepare to reap the benefits for years to come. Just like a one-year subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month club, mystery marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. 😉

DID YOU KNOW? Reviews are the lifeblood of a book. If you haven’t yet, please leave an honest review on Amazon. Thank you!

Comments:

  • “How could a 5-ounce bird possibly carry a 1-pound coconut?” (Haha! Monty Python is the best)

  • What a great post. I never considered using mystery to engage my market. My wheels are TURNING!!

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