Brand Building

Mastering the Art of Marketing Serendipity: Frans Johansson and The Click Moment

In early 2005, an obscure video burst onto the Internet, garnering millions of views. One of the first YouTube viral music hits had been born, and for Numa Numa guy—19-year-old American Gary Brolsma—life would never be the same. His quirky and energetic lip-syncing of “Dragostea Din Tei” by a Moldovan Romanian pop group called O-Zone had spread like wildfire, and by February of 2005, Numa Numa “crossed over” into main stream media with both The Today Show and The New York Times running stories about Numa Numa and the media shy Gary Brolsma.

Of course, all of this had been carefully orchestrated by the O-Zone’s media manager, who had been looking for a way to break into the US market. After holding online tryouts, he picked Brolsma out of the pack, and began promoting him like crazy….Stop. Wrong. Sorry. That’s not what happened at all! In fact, O-Zone singer Dan Balan got a call while in New York to turn on The Today Show. The band was as surprised as anyone else about this unexpected success!

So, in a world where unpredictable connections can quickly propel products, people, ideas, candidates, and even obscure Moldovan bands into the limelight, how do we do strategic planning? Can we stack the deck in our favor to create our own Numa Numa moments?

In The Click Moment, Frans Johansson persuasively lays out a four-part recipe for increasing those seemingly random moments of serendipity.

1.     Take Your Eye Off the Ball
Sometimes our schedules are so full that there is not a single moment in the day for a new idea to even occur. This is why it’s so important to take time and stray “off task.” Howard Schultz was in Milan for a housewares and brewing equipment convention, but made time in his day to visit some of the local coffee shops. It was sitting there, far from the convention floor, that the idea of Starbucks was born! Although it seems counterintuitive, taking your eye off the ball every so often can actually make you much more productive.

2.     Use Intersectional Thinking
Intersectional thinking arises when two seemingly unrelated ideas are combined to create something totally unexpected. Such was the case when aerobics instructor Beto Perez who showed up to class one night in Cali, Columbia, but forgot to bring his usual music tape. Faced with the prospect of cancelling class, he searched his duffle bag and decided to go ahead using a mixed tape of salsa and merengue songs. This was the surprising start of the Zumba dance craze, today the world’s largest fitness movement.

Not only can ideas be combined, but it is important to create serendipitous meetings between people as well. When the Pixar headquarters was built, Steve Jobs deliberately created a giant atrium in the middle of building to make sure that people from different disciplines would run into each other. The coffee bar, cafeteria, and meeting rooms were all at the center of the atrium. As Johansson explains, “What Jobs realized was that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.”

3.   Follow Your Curiosity
For Johansson, curiosity is another essential ingredient for driving click moments. “Why is curiosity so good creating click moments? Because curiosity is the way your intuition tells you that something interesting is going on. You are not exactly sure what that something is – so curiosity propels you to keep digging until you connect the pieces.” However, the key to generating click moments is to not only be curious, but to keep following your curiosity until it bears fruit.

4.  Reject the Predictable Path
Alexander the Great was able to defeat the Persians at the Battle of Gaugamela by attacking at dawn, precisely the opposite of what the opposing general had anticipated. Likewise, in our own lives, a key to generating click moments arises when we force ourselves off the predictable path. If we keep on familiar paths, the odds of anything new happening remain very low, but the moment we venture off into new routines or activities, the chances of having a click moment rise dramatically.

Conclusion: Click Moments in Action
According to Johansson, the final and most critical step to make click moments payoff is to take action. As Johansson explains, “A click moment represents a sudden opportunity, a turning point that can push us in a new, unpredictable, and random direction. These moments are powerful because they allow us to stumble upon ideas that are not obvious or logical – ideas that may enable us to outwit our competitors. But by themselves these moments don’t mean all that much. In order to amount to anything they have to be followed up with some sort of action.”

Ready to get started? Click here to watch an interview with Frans Johansson, as he discusses the potential impact of click moments.

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Jim Walker

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is Director, Marketing Strategy at Cadient, a Cognizant Company. Jim provides innovative marketing insights for a wide range of clients, as well as leading Cadient’s content marketing strategy. He is particularly interested in helping brand teams effectively leverage their digital content. He can be reached at
Jim Walker

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