Dare to be Mysterious

I’m feeling all inspired by The Mysterious Package company. They sell “stories you can touch” with multimedia narratives you ponder and piece together over a series of mailings; the final mailing is always a crate with an artifact to memorialize the experience. The Mysterious Package Company taps into the delight people feel from a good surprise, the resolution of anticipation and suspense.

The experiences tend to be supernatural, horror or adventure themed. They aren’t for everyone. But over 500,000 people have signed up to send snail mail ranging in price from $29 to $299. They won’t give you many details and are actually quite stubborn about it. They swear you to secrecy and make you wait for your membership application to be approved. The whole process is frustratingly compelling.

“People tend to over-communicate or explain too much.”

Jason Kapalka, cofounder of The Mysterious Package Company

I recently sent The Lost Treasure of John Augur to a friend for her birthday. The month-long production lead time built anticipation and I waited impatiently for the experience to start. I finally got an e-mail from The Curator saying it had begun and freaked out like it was Christmas morning. I found myself obsessively checking the tracking number to see when it was delivered. I Facebook stalked my friend to see her reaction: “This is the coolest thing ever!” Then there was the psychological torture (and glee) of secret-keeping under persistent questioning: “Is it you? I know it’s you. Confess. You did this, didn’t you?” I could neither confirm nor deny. The Curator sent me updates along the way. He claimed to be my humble servant, but true to the brand, he was more entertaining than helpful. And I loved every minute of it.

The Mysterious Package Company is a great reminder that …

1) Mail is a great medium for pure storytelling.

2) A little mystery leaves room for the audience to engage.

3) It’s OK to be stubborn and uncompromising to create delight.