Here is a rather interesting promotion from California Pizza Kitchen. At the end of my dinner (along with the bill) I was given “The ’Don’t Open It’ CPK Thank You Card.”

It’s a coupon, with an interesting twist: You bring this with card you next time you come back to CPK. You’ve already won something, from a free appetizer up to $50 (or more). But you don’t know what you’ve won until your next visit.

See where’s this going?

The instructions are pretty clear: Whatever you do, do NOT open this or whatever you’ve won is null and void! A manager has to open this for you when you return. You are guaranteed to get something worthwhile—and this is a critical part of arousing curiosity.

Coupons are too explicit: ”Here is your 20% off.” Scratch offs and lottery tickets are most likely to reveal nothing. Here, the fine print teases you with a list of the possible prizes. Now I’m curious, which prize have I won?

And then I catch myself. I care way too much about this.

But I can’t control it. I need to know what I’ve won.

We Want What We Can’t Have

This is a mystery that needs closure. So, I did some research and learned about a man named George Loewenstein. He’s well-known for his “Information-Gap Theory.”

According to Loewenstein, curiosity is spawned when we feel a gap “between what we know and what we want to know.” More times than not, this feeling will cause us to take action. As humans we’ll do whatever it takes to bridge the gap in knowledge.

(I suppose this line of thinking is similar to the old saying, “You want what you can’t have.”)

Reading about Loewenstein made me feel better about myself. It’s not my fault I care so much about this silly coupon. It’s embedded in my DNA.

I’m on to You, LinkedIn

I quickly realized this sort of marketing tactic is used every day by every company, including LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature provides some solid insight into how your profile is performing. However, the amount of information revealed is limited for non-paying members. As a result, LinkedIn serves the information up in a way that makes you want more so you take action and upgrade your account.

Example: Someone at [company]

Example: [Specific role] at [company]

Example: [Specific role] in [industry]

Additionally, users can review trends regarding the people who have viewed their profile. But this is also contains restrictions if you’re not a premium member.

Here are the two main differences between the free and versions:

Number of Viewers – You’ll see a maximum of five viewers if you have a free account and have your setting adjusted to display your name when you view profiles. If you have a premium profile, you’ll see the complete list of viewers from the past 90 days.

Trends – If you have a free account, you’ll see how often people viewed you and the number of times you appeared in LinkedIn search for the last 90 days. If you have a premium account, you’ll see these two trends as well as keywords that led to you, as well as the industry and location of your viewers.

Now tell me. Has LinkedIn’s method of igniting curiosity caused you to upgrade your account? Has your premium account proved worthwhile?