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What Hysterical Screaming Teenagers and The Star of American Idol Taught Me About Marketing

I was in Oslo, about a week ago. The weather was nice (for once, it was actually sunny), and I was out walking. I was looking for a place to sit and write on my novel. I was thinking about finding a table at a nice coffee shop, but instead I ended up on the lawn of the fortress.

The view was fantastic, and although it looked like some tourists thought I was an attraction, I was really focused and did some of my best writing. Usually, I write at home, in my cramped office space (it’s really a closet), but going outside, among people, turned out to be a good thing.

The American Celebrity

I wrote for about two hours. And that was it. I had to take a short break and go for a walk. So I did. I walked by the water, and was just looking from side to side at all the different people, when I discovered a guy walking towards me. He was talking on the phone, not loud, but I could hear that he was an American. I looked a little closer, I’m always fascinated when I hear someone speak a different langauge (other than Norwegian). I had seen this guy before, but I just couldn’t remember where I had seen him.

He was still talking on the phone as I walked passed him. I decided that he was just a regular tourist, untill I heard the loudest scream I have ever heard (at least it felt like that at the time). A lot of fourteen year old girls (I’m just guessing how old they are) was running towards me hysterically screaming.

I knew that I wasn’t the reason why they were running and screaming, so a new thought appear to me, one that was something like; “I guess the guy I just passed was not just an ordinary tourist, and that there’s a reason why I thought I had seen him before.”

It turned out that the guy was Chris Medina, from American Idol and currently singing the famous song “What are words”. He was going to be on stage somewhere in Oslo later that day. As I turned and looked straight at him, he was nowhere to be seen. That’s because all the girls were flocking around him like seagulls on a piece of bread.

WOW – What a Surprise!

As I was standing on the sidewalk and looking at the screaming girls that almost crushed the little American guy to death, I thought about the reason for their behavior. I wasn’t thinking about the part about the famous, very cute guy, I was thinking about the element of surprise.

Would these girls have acted like they did if it was all arranged? What if it had been announced that Chris Medina was going to be signing his latest album somehwere at a specific time, would they have acted the same? My answer to this question is no, they wouldn’t. Because then, they would have had the time to think about their actions, and they would have had time to process some thoughts, and build up their expectations (or lack of expectations).

Well, you might say that I’m wrong, and say; ”just look at how crazy people get around celebrities all the time, no matter if they know they are going to be there or not.” Still, you get my point.

If you don’t know about the surprise, the experience will be a lot better. When we experience a surprise, we will get happier, and we will not forget as fast as if it wasn’t a surprise.

The Thank You Economy

As I was trying to find out if Chris Medina needed my help to run away from the hysterical-still-screaming teenagers, I started to think about the book I recently finished reading.

What I just experienced reminds me a lot about what Gary Vaynerchuck is talking about in The Thank You Economy. We should treat all of our customers as they are the most important people in the world. And, we should be adding an element of surprise in their experiences with us (the last part is actually my words and not from Gary).

I’m talking about what Zappos are doing in order to deliver happiness. Add free overnight shipping, add some extra free gadgets, or some incredible fancy packaging. Add something positive that the customers didn’t know about. Nothing beats a fantastic surprise. Your customers will love you, and they will never let you go.

For all that I know, poor Chris Medina is still crushed between hundreds of teenage girls somewhere in Oslo.

23 responses to “What Hysterical Screaming Teenagers and The Star of American Idol Taught Me About Marketing”

  1. Adrienne says:

    Ah, I loved Chris Medina and especially his story. I’m sure those girls couldn’t help themselves and maybe they would have acted the same way had his appearance been scheduled and announced ahead of time.

    You are right about the element of surprise though. I don’t know why we always seem much happier when we do, see or find something totally unexpected. Just makes us all a little giddy I guess.

    I think I probably would have walked right by him too thinking I probably had seen him somewhere before so don’t feel alone Jens. But how cool is that.

    Thanks for sharing this experience.


    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      We get weird around celebrities, don’t we? Especially teenagers 🙂 I have no idea how they would have acted if everything had been scheduled, but the girls might have been just as hysterical… but it’s a lot better story saying that they met him when they were out walking. And, that goes for close to everything. The better the story is, the better the experience is, and that turns it into something unforgettable 🙂

      Thanks again for all your awesome comments and your constant support. Fantastic!

  2. Magnus says:

    Hei Jens,

    Kommentar på norsk igjen. Veldig bra innlegg. Interessant hvordan du fikk markedsføring ut av denne episoden 🙂 Men, du har helt rett. Jeg opplever overraskelsesmomenter i salg ofte. Før strebet jeg etter korte leveringstider og ble på en måte alltid liggende litt etter. Nå tenker jeg anderledes. Jeg liker å overraske kundene med produkter før tiden. Det kan også være en ekstra skisse eller komme opp med en bedre løsning en kunden forventer. Alt dette er veldig viktig i relasjonsbygging. Det kunden husker er ofte da du uforventet dukket opp med akkurat det kunde hadde behov for 🙂

    Hilsen Magnus

    • jens says:


      Ikke noe problem, det er bare å kommentere på norsk. Det viktigste for meg er at jeg forstår kommentarene, og det gjør jeg i hvert fall når de er på norsk. Har fått kommentarer på kinesisk (jeg tror det var kinesisk), og det gikk dårlig 🙂

      Det er mange firmaer som jeg har jobbet med som kun gjør det kunden ber om, og ingenting mer. Det er ikke nok lengre. Vi trenger å bli overrasket, det trenger ikke være så mye. Jeg husker f.eks. første gangen jeg var på møte hos InPublish, og vi fikk servert et bredt utvalg av te, og nøtter… jeg ble veldig imponert og følte meg skikkelig velkommen. Det var en veldig positiv overraskelse (nå har jeg ikke sett så mye til nøttene etter det ene møtet, men teen er fortsatt imponerende) 🙂

      Poenget mitt er at vi ikke trenger å bruke veldig mye tid og penger for å skape overraskelsene, det viktigste er at vi kommer med noe som kunden ikke forventer, som er det lille ekstra som gjør at opplevelsen blir fantastisk.

      Jeg synes spesielt det dere i InPublish gjør i forbindelse med utsendelsene, pepperkakehus, InPublish Island etc.. er genialt.

  3. Eddie Gear says:

    I know this might be going off topic, But shouldn’t they all be behind you screaming after they have read you novel?? LoL

    I hope that one day your novel is ready and you are as famous as any other author out there. I guess that feeling must have been great.

    • jens says:

      Hey Eddie,

      Well, it would probably be a fantastic feeling the first time it happened. But, I really don’t hope that I’ll end up being chased by hordes of hysterical teenage girls 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your support. I really appreciate it.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, As I was reading your post, I had the same thoughts as Eddie. I bet five years from now Jens will be the famous one and no one will remember who Chris Medina was!

    I agree, though, I wouldn’t want to be swarmed by anyone, even teenage girls. Ah, the price of fame.

    I also agree with you and Adrienne about how nice little surprises are from vendors. Every so often when I buy something from an eBay seller, they will wrap it very nicely or include a little gift. Those extra touches make me feel very special as a buyer. I always leave positive feeback but I’m sure the extra surprises provide incentive to the eBay buyers who otherwise wouldn’t bother to leave feedback.

    So, can you think of any ways as a blogger to offer a special touch to your readers that’s a surprise? You already do such a marvelous job at responding to each comment, it’s hard to imagine your doing any more than you already do. But maybe that’s one of the secrets to your success. You deliver quality every step of the way.

    Jens, your blogs just keep me thinking every time. And that’s a good thing! Thanks so much for another fantastic post. 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      Wow, I’m not sure what to say, but thanks 🙂

      When it comes to surprises, I don’t think that we need big surprises. I still remember when I ordered a small pizza, and the waiter came to our table with a smile, and told me they had made a large pizza instead (they made me the happiest man alive) 🙂

      When it comes to bloggers, one thing is to retweet posts, comment on the posts, and be an awesome support. But, I’ve heard of bloggers who have actually sent gifts to their readers, like a book from Amazon. It doesn’t cost a lot, but wow, receiving a book for being a customer or a regular reader etc.. that would be cool.

      It makes me so happy that you find my blog interesting. Thanks again.


  5. John says:

    Very interesting article! I never thought of the element of surprise this way.
    Indeed I agree with you that he couldn’t have so many girls over him if they were already expecting him or at least not in that violent way(joking).

    Anyway, I think the element of surprise can be a huge thing (good or bad). It’s up to you how to use it:d

    • jens says:

      Hi John,

      I love surprises, actually, I especially love small surprises. It doesn’t have to be much, as long as it’s something positive that I didn’t expect.

      I believe that surprises are very important when it comes to marketing. We tend to “never” forget a surprise.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by John, and for your awesome comment.


  6. Mahesh Rathi says:

    That is really cool. I do like the new features.

  7. jens says:

    Exactly. The element of surprise will be just as interesting in a clothes store, or any store online. We love this, and especially if it’s targeted.

  8. jens says:

    I don’t have a video selection, but thanks anyway 🙂


  9. Zarah Alvie says:

    Chris Medina was the breakout star on Monday night’s audition episode of “American Idol,” as he tugged at America’s heartstrings for more than just his singing.

    Chris auditioned, performing The Script’s “Breakeven,” and he brought along his beloved fiancée, Juliana Ramos, who is confined to a wheelchair following a tragic car accident. Today, Access Hollywood has new details about this emotional story.

  10. jens says:

    Thanks a lot for your feedback 🙂


  11. Joseph Hipolito says:

    I agree with the one commentator in here that this post was really inspiring us because of the quality and content..

  12. Joseph Hipolito says:

    No prob sir, Love your site and make it good to have a great rank in google..

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