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The Power of Purpose in Business

It was the spring of 2013 and my first full year as an entrepreneur. I had been introduced to S. Chris Edmonds by a mutual friend. I mentioned to Chris that I was working on launching my business as an author and speaker. He recommended that I speak to Mark Levy.  

Mark Levy leads a consulting practice called Levy Innovation focused on positioning. Described as the “horse whisperer” for writers, Levy had worked with prominent thought leaders such as Marshall Goldsmith, Simon Sinek, David Meerman Scott, and Cali Yost. I hired Mark to help me with my platform. Over six weeks, he coached me on creating marketplace differentiation, crafting an elevator pitch, mining my backstory, and developing a go-to-market strategy.

Mark is brilliant. He taught me about crafting a big idea and developing a backstory. We spent a considerable amount of time on not only the what and how, but also the why. To illustrate the importance of communicating my why, Mark shared a story about one of his clients. It was one I’d never forget.

The Power of Purpose

CalculatorThe client was a financial planner serving small business owners. Let’s call him Ed. Ed had shared with Mark that he recruited the majority of his new clients by speaking. He would give a 90 minute seminar on managing finances. At the end of the seminar, Ed would offer a free one hour consultation/assessment. If there was 40 people in the room, he’d typically have only two or three take him up on the offer. The need to grow his client base led him to Mark. Mark asked Ed why he chose to pursue a career in accounting. He shared that the inspiration began during his teenage years. His parents had passed away in a car accident and he was raised by his grandparents. His grandfather had worked at a local company for over 30 years. His grandmother was working as an office administrative assistant in a local school. Ed could remember sitting in his living room at age 14 like it was yesterday. His grandfather was next to him reading the newspaper. An advertisement caught his eye. The ad was for the sale of a local butcher shop. He approached his wife and expressed his desire to purchase the business. They both would quit and go into business for themselves. She was skeptical, but eventually agreed.

Ed watched his grandparents cash in their life savings to start the new business. The butcher shop didn’t make any money the first year, lost money in year two, and a little more in year three. By the end of the fifth year they had lost the remaining capital and were forced to close the business. Instead of enjoying their retirement, they went back to getting full-time jobs and both worked until they passed away. Ed shared that he went into accounting because he didn’t want to have other small business owners experience what had happened to his grandparents. Mark asked Ed to share this personal backstory during his next seminar. The results were staggering. Ed merely told his backstory on why he became a financial planner before starting his regular session. At the end he made his usual pitch. The difference was that 37 out of the 40 attendees took him up on the offer, many of whom became clients for Ed.

Arriving at the Ultimate Differentiator

I began writing back in 2008. For one year I blogged about 50 different topics in marketing. Searching for what I thought would be a game changer in business. The following year I would have a “moment of truth” in New York City that changed my life. I walked away from that experience believing the biggest myth in business was the idea of meeting customer expectations. Too much attention was being placed on acquisition. Going forward businesses  would need to find the little things to maximize the customer experience by putting customers first. Taking care of the customers they had, so those customers would bring them the (referred) customers they wanted.

I became a disciple of the late Ted Levitt. Levitt believed that business should put the customer at the center of everything they do. Levitt asserted that “The search for meaningful distinction is central to the marketing effort. If marketing is about anything, it is about achieving customer-getting distinction by differentiating what you do and how you operate. All else is derivative of that and only that.” I believed the focus of business should be on customers and not just chasing bottom line profits. Profit was the result, not the aim. Customer experience was to become the new marketing.

PurpleGoldfishAfter collecting over 1,000 examples and writing Purple Goldfish, my thinking was slightly altered. I found that the companies who did the little extras for customers, also applied the same principles for their employees. In fact, many of those successful companies seemed to place a greater emphasis on culture and putting their employees first. It led me to crowdsource another 1,000+ examples. These examples were focused on the little things for employees to help drive engagement and reinforce culture. The result was my second book, the Green Goldfish.

GreenGoldfishMy outlook after Green Goldfish was altered once again. I had previously held the view that you treat all of your customers and all of your employees the same. I came to realize that for most companies, 80% of profitability is created by just 20% of customers. In addition, 80% of the value that is created by a business, comes from just 20% of the employees. I realized that you don’t treat everyone the same, you treat everyone fairly. My third book in the original trilogy, the Golden Goldfish, focused on the little things you do for your “vital few” in business.

GoldenGoldfishI now believe there is an ultimate differentiator. While writing Golden Goldfish I was introduced to Chris Malone. Chris Malone co-authored The Human Brand with Susan T. Fiske. The book examines the concepts of warmth and competence in relation to business. As humans, our brains are hardwired to sense warmth and competence immediately. Warmth trumps competence. It starts inside your organization and radiates to your customer. If you want to win the hearts of employees and wallets of customers, you must go out of your way to put their interests ahead of yours. Malone and Fiske call this the principle of worthy intentions. These worthy intentions are typically linked to the purpose of your company. Purpose is now becoming the ultimate differentiator.

The book Red Goldfish, co-authored by Graeme Newell,  (launching 2/14/17) will explore how business is evolving, the importance of putting purpose first, how to define your purpose, the eight purpose archetypes, and how to create the little things that bring purpose to life.

Red Goldfish Book

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here is a slideshare presentation on the concept of a Red Goldfish:

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer – Doubletree Hotels

Hall of Fame Class of 2010 – Doubletree

I can distinctly remember my first stay at a Doubletree by Hilton like it was yesterday. It happened over two decades ago in Atlanta, GA. It was late and I was traveling on one of my first business trips. The flight from Los Angeles was delayed and I had missed dinner. In a bad mood and hangry (hungry and angry). As I checked in I was given a warm chocolate cookie. It was like a gift from the heavens. That day my love affair with the Doubletree chocolate cookie began.

WELL_Speaking1-190x111As much as I love the cookie, I pale in comparison to Jeff Hayzlett. The best-selling author of Running the Gauntlet, former CMO of Kodak, and founder of the C-Suite Network loves them so much, he says he dreams about the Doubletree cookie when he stays at other hotels.

Doubletree’s motto is “The Little Things Mean Everything.” This commercial highlights the cookie as one of “the little things our hotel team members do every day to create a rewarding experience for our hotel guests.

The Origin

Since the 1980’s, most hotels offered treats like chocolate chip cookies to VIP customers. Doubletree believes that every customer is a VIP and thus started handing them out to every customer in 1987. Fast forward to 2016, Doubletree by Hilton gives away over 60,000 per day across the world. Since starting the program, they’ve given away over 300 million cookies.

Doubletree-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie
Why a Cookie?

Doubletree offers an explanation right on the brown paper bag the cookie comes in. “Why a cookie?” the headline asks. “Cookies are warm, personal and inviting, much like our hotels and the staff here that serves you.” Warm is the key here and a signature feature of the Doubletree cookie.

Takeaway:  You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Some may argue that a mere chocolate chip cookie is empty and meaningless gesture.  It’s not meaningless, especially when that little extra is a signature first impression.  I subscribe to the philosophy that Malcolm Gladwell offered in The Tipping Point, ”The little things can make the biggest difference.” Doubletree understands the chocolate chip cookie is not just a cookie, it’s a warm welcome and a stunning first impression.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Speaking of warmth, here is Chris Malone of Fidelum Partners speaking about the importance of warmth:

The Two Most Vital Elements in Marketing and Sales

[The following post is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of the book, What’s Your Golden Goldfish]

Golden Goldfish BookIn our evolution as humans, we were forced to develop skills integral to our survival. One of which was the ability to make snap judgments about our surroundings with a high degree of speed and accuracy. As we walked out of the “cave” our senses went immediately into survival mode. We judged everyone and everything we encountered on two basic criteria:

  1. Are they a threat?
  2. Their ability to carry out that threat?

This basic truth is at the heart of the work of Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. {Endnote 24} Their research, built upon work done by Dr. Bogdan Wojciszke, has shown that over 80% of our judgments as based on these two factors. It boils down to our perception of 1. warmth and 2. competence. These perceptions don’t just apply to people. We also apply the same standards to products and companies. We automatically perceive and judge their behaviors on a subconscious level. Brands are people too. According to their book The Human Brand, we are in the midst of a Relationship Renaissance.

The Human BrandFrom the Local Village to Mass Market to Global Village…

The mass market is a relatively new phenomenon. Merely 150 years ago we consumed almost everything made from people we know. The reputation of a merchant was as precious as gold. If a small business wronged you, everyone in the local village would quickly know about it. Merchants faced public censure, potential ruin and even losing a limb. As a result, businesses worked hard to establish trust and earn repeat business.

But then the mass market emerged. Almost everything we consumed was made by a faceless, far-off company. The voice of the customer waned. We were powerless to expose or punish brands that acted badly. Outside of lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or writing consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, we were handcuffed.

Enter Digital, Social and Mobile. The internet has changed the game. In the words of author Chris Malone,

For the first time in history, the entire world is wired in a way that is consistent with the way evolution has wired us to think and behave.” {Endnote 25}

Social has flattened the earth. Each consumer has the opportunity to share their experiences with millions of others. It has caused a huge ripple effect in the global village.

Instant Karma

Brands beware. Feedback is now instantaneous. John Lennon famously called this Instant Karma,

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race”

Need an example to drive this home? Look no further than the story of Panera and Brandon Cook. {Endnote 26}

panera-purple-goldfishThe Human Brand shares the touching tale of a Panera store manager who used good judgment to help the dying grandmother of a customer. The story involves Panera going above and beyond to make a special batch of clam chowder. The manager was thoughtful to provide a small package of cookies thrown in complimentary for good measure. Touched by the effort, it inspired the customer to share the encounter socially. In less than four weeks, a single Facebook post by Brandon Cook garnered 800,000+ likes, nearly 36,000 comments and scores of national media attention. Why? Because Panera empowered its employees to demonstrate warmth and competence by doing the little extra.

Consumers want to be heard. Social accountability is back and its here to stay. Consumers expect to have relationships with their brands. Companies must forge genuine relationships with customers. We now expect relational accountability from the companies and brands we support. Consumers will view the actions (or inaction) of brands based on warmth and competence. And warmth is absolutely key.

The idea of warmth and competence is not just theory. It draws from original research spanning 10 separate studies. Once you start to view every action through the lens of warmth and competence, you will:

  • rethink your approach to loyalty programs
  • rethink how you prioritize people vs. profits
  • rethink ever doing a “daily deal” like Groupon or LivingSocial
  • rethink the cost of new customer acquisition vs. upselling current customers
  • rethink how important is to make the first step in demonstrating warmth and competence
  • rethink how leadership can become the literal “face” of your brand
  • rethink how you handle a crisis

Malone and Fiske spent three years studying more than 45 major companies. The research has confirmed that warmth perceptions and communal relationships are the dominant drivers of customer loyalty. What’s a brand to do? The authors posit in a BusinessWeek.com article, {Endnote 27}

Lasting prosperity requires a fundamental shift in business priorities, a shift in which individual customer relationships are every bit as important as short-term profit. Our success as humans has always depended on the cooperation and loyalty of others, and in that regard, our capacity to express warmth and competence ranks among our most precious assets. Therefore, keeping the best interests of others in balance with our own is simply a form of highly enlightened self-interest.

Companies need to find ways to leverage individual customer and employee relationships by doing a tangible extra. Actions speaks louder than words.

CASE STUDY – DOUBLETREE HOTELS 

Doubletree Chocolate Chip CookieMy family recently stayed at a Doubletree Hotel in Richmond. It was part of a family vacation to Virginia. I’m a big fan of the hotel because of their chocolate chip cookie. It epitomizes the signature extra and the idea of being REMARK-able.

I can distinctly remember my first stay at a Doubletree like it was yesterday. It was April 1996 in Atlanta, GA when the love affair began. After numerous delays on a rainy day we finally reached the Hotel. It was one of my first business trips. Tired and hungry I checked into the Doubletree. In addition to receiving my room key I was a given an individually wrapped bit of warmth and goodness. Inside my bag was a chocolate chip cookie. And not just an ordinary chocolate chip cookie, it was warm, large and packed with oozy chocolate chips. A smile came across my face. I was smitten.

As much as I love the cookie, I pale in comparison to Jeff Hayzlett. The former CMO of Kodak and best-selling author of The Mirror Test & Running the Gauntlet loves them so much, Jeff dreams of the Doubletree cookie when he stays at other hotels.

Doubletree’s motto is “The Little Things Mean Everything.” A recent commercial highlighted the cookie as one of “the little things our hotel team members do every day to create a rewarding experience for our hotel guests.

The Origin

In the 1980’s, most hotels offered treats like chocolate chip cookies to VIP customers. Doubletree believed all customers are VIP’s and thus they started handing them out to every customer in 1987. Fast forward to 2014, Doubletree by Hilton gives away roughly 60,000 chocolate chip cookies per day across the world. Since starting the program, they’ve given away over 300 million cookies.

Why a Cookie?

Doubletree offers an explanation right on the brown paper bag the cookie comes in. “Why a cookie?” the headline asks. “Cookies are warm, personal and inviting, much like our hotels and the staff here that serves you.” Warm is key here and a signature feature of the Doubletree cookie.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Some may argue that a mere chocolate chip cookie is empty and meaningless gesture.  It’s not meaningless, especially when that little extra is a signature first impression.  I subscribe to the philosophy that Malcolm Gladwell offered in The Tipping Point,

The little things can make the biggest difference.”  

Doubletree understands the chocolate chip cookie is not just a cookie, it’s a warm welcome and a stunningly competent first impression.

Bio: Stan Phelps is the founder of 9 INCH marketing, a consultancy that helps brands obtain customers that are four times as valuable as ordinary customers through the Goldfish Rule. He’s the author of the Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and the Golden Goldfish. He works with senior leaders to focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan creates custom keynotes, workshops, and programs that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become REMARK-able by design.

EXTRA, EXTRA February Newsletter: The Super Groundhog Day Edition

super groundhog day edition

Today is a two-fer. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day.

Greetings from arctic North Carolina. We’re on the heels of Snowmaggedon 2014. Unfortunately, it has become a harbinger of Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction.

No early spring according to our Groundhog and his shadow. Prepare for six more weeks of winter.

FEATURED POST:

3 Ways to Create Raving Fans Like the Seattle Seahawks

Are your customers giving you a 12th MAN Advantage?

BahyTP1IAAARFHZLast December the Seattle Seahawks broke the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at 137.6 decibels. To put that sound into perspective, that level of noise rivals a jet engine. According to Popular Mechanics, it’s even louder than the 120-decibel implosion that took down the Seahawks former home, the Kingdome back in 2000.

These fans personify the term “raving.” The sound is legendary, so loud that it’s seismic. The cheering of the fans supposedly sparked a few mini-earthquakes.

century link-fieldHas this translated to success for the Seahawks? Absolutely. The team has lost only once over the past two seasons at CenturyLink Field. Many attribute this stellar home record to the “12th MAN” advantage.

How crazy are the Seattle fans? One fan named Tim Collins got a tattoo back in August celebrating the team winning tomorrow’s Super Bowl. Look for Collins today during the game. Doritos spotted him a couple tickets and a VIP trip to New York.

space needle #12Is there something in the water in Seattle?

I don’t believe its something unique to the franchise. There is a reason behind the madness. Here are three things you can learn for the Seahawks:

Click here to read the 3 things and the origin of the 12TH MAN

COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU IN FEBRUARY 

I’ll be making stops this month in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Atlanta and Raleigh.

February 5 – Women’s Council of Realtors of Raleigh (Cary)

February 8 – Principled Business Leadership Institute (Hyatt, Philadelphia)

February 10 – Rutgers University Guest Lecture with Professor Mark Beal (NJ)

February 11 – MENG Philadelphia Keynote (Bartley Hall, Villanova University)

February 19 – Triangle Sales & Marketing Council (Briar Creek Country Club, Raleigh)

February 21 – Customer Experience Design Workshop (Atlanta Tech Village, Buckhead)

February 22 – Principled Business Leadership Institute (Hyatt, Atlanta)

February 27 – High Five Conference Breakout Session (Sheraton, Downtown Raleigh)

February 28 – Raleigh Wake HRMA Strategic HR Summit (Marriott, Downtown Raleigh)

EVENT SPOTLIGHT

high5_headerOne event I’m pumped for is the first ever conference at the intersection of marketing with creative. It’s Triangle AMA’s High Five Conference and its being held at the Sheraton in Downtown Raleigh on February 26+27. Use the special code 9INCH when registering for a special 15% discount. I’ll be joined by ^5 amazing keynote speakers including Joseph Jaffe, Rohit Bhargava, Spike Jones, Lane Becker and Jeni Herberger.

BOOK REVIEW: THE HUMAN BRAND

Can’t recommend this book enough:

The Human Brand – How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske

The Human BrandIn our evolution as humans, we were forced to develop skills integral to our survival. One of which was the ability to make snap judgements about our surroundings with a high degree of speed and accuracy. As we walked out of the “cave” our senses went immediately into survival mode. We judged everyone and everything we encountered on two basic criteria:

  1. Are they a threat?
  2. Their ability to carry out that threat?

This basic truth is at the heart of Wiley’s new book The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. Their research has shown that over 80% of our judgements as based on these two factors. It boils down to our perception of two things: 1. warmth and 2.competence. 

These perceptions don’t just apply to people. We also apply the same standards to products and companies. We automatically perceive and judge their behaviors on a subconscious level. Brands are people too.

Read the entire review

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a jab to $4 million dollar 30 second spots.

The two most important factors of how we relate to people, products and companies

Book Review: The Human Brand

In our evolution as humans, we were forced to develop skills integral to our survival. One of which was the ability to make snap judgements about our surroundings with a high degree of speed and accuracy. As we walked out of the “cave” our senses went immediately into survival mode. We judged everyone and everything we encountered on two basic criteria:

  1. Are they a threat?
  2. What was their ability to carry out that threat?

The Human BrandThis basic truth is at the heart of Wiley’s new book The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. Their research has shown that over 80% of our judgements as based on these two factors. It boils down to our perception of 1. warmth and 2. competence. These perceptions don’t just apply to people. We also apply the same standards to products and companies. We automatically perceive and judge their behaviors on a subconscious level. Brands are people too.

Here is author Chris Malone talking about the two dimensions of Trust:

Relationship Renaissance

From the Local Village to the Mass Market to the Global Village

The mass market is a relatively new phenomenon. Merely 150 years ago we consumed almost everything made from people we know. A merchants reputation was as precious as gold. If a small business wronged you, everyone in the local village would quickly know about it. Merchants faced public censure, potential ruin and even losing a limb (see story of the “Bakers Dozen“). As a result, businesses worked hard to establish trust and earn repeat business.

But then the mass market emerged. Almost everything we consumed was made by a faceless, far off company. The voice of the customer waned. We were powerless to expose or punish brands that acted badly. Outside of lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or writing consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, we were handcuffed.

Enter Digital, Social and Mobile. The internet has changed the game. In the words of author Chris Malone, “For the first time in history, the entire world is wired in a way that is consistent with the way evolution has wired us to think and behave.” Social has flattened the earth. Each consumer has the opportunity to share their experiences with millions of others. There is a huge ripple effect in the global village.

A phenomenon John Lennon famously called Instant Karma,

Lyrics from the Hard Rock Vault

Lyrics from the Hard Rock Vault

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race”

Need an example to drive this home? Look no further than Panera and the story of Brandon Cook.

panera-purple-goldfish

The Human Brand shares the touching tale of a Panera store manager who used good judgement to help the dying grandmother of a customer. Making soup and sending along cookies for good measure. In less than four weeks, a single Facebook post by customer Brandon Cook garnered 800,000+ likes, nearly 35,000 comments and scores of national media attention. Why? Because Panera empowered its employees to demonstrate warmth and competence by doing the little extra.

BOOK TAKEAWAYS: Consumers want to be heard. Social accountability is back and its here to stay. Consumers expect to have relationships with their brands. Companies must forge genuine relationships with customers. We now expect relational accountability from the companies and brands we support. Consumers will view the actions (or inaction) of brands based on warmth and competence. And warmth is absolutely key.

Chris Zane of Zane's Cycles

Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles

The Human Brand is not just theory. It draws from original research, evaluating over 45 companies over the course of 10 separate studies. There are plenty of case studies. The book features in-depth analyses of large companies such as Hershey’s, Domino’s, Lululemon, Zappos, Coca-Cola, Panera, Amazon, Chobani and Sprint. It also touches on small to medium sized businesses with compelling case studies such as Dr. Kelly Faddis, the University of Dayton, Zane’s Cycles and Loeber Motors.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a game changer. I guarantee you will be rethinking your approach to customers and prospects after reading this book.

  • You’ll rethink your approach to loyalty programs
  • You’ll rethink how you prioritize people vs. profits
  • You’ll rethink ever doing a “daily deal” like Groupon or LivingSocial
  • You’ll rethink the cost of new customer acquisition vs. upselling current customers
  • You’ll rethink how important is to make the first step in demonstrating warmth and competence
  • You’ll rethink how your actions will be perceived through the Principle of Worthy Intentions
  • You’ll rethink how leadership can become the literal “face” of your brand
  • You’ll rethink how you handle a crisis

In the words of Malone, perhaps the greatest takeaway is this, “Companies need to embrace significant change in the way they do business with customers, better aligning their policies, practices and processes to reflect warmth and competence.

One word: AMEN

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is John Lennon singing his classic, Instant Karma at Madison Square Garden:

Recognition is top of mind and eye level @Delta

delta green goldfish

I was heading to Los Angeles this week for a speaking engagement and meetings. Upon boarding my flight with Delta I noticed something. Right in the galley upon entering the plane was this sign.

The plaque called out Jim Stefl as a 2013 honoree of the Delta Chairman’s Club. The club recognizes employees for above and beyond performance. One the crew members noticed me taking the photo. They told me a bit about the program. Roughly 100 employees get recognized each year and that many more get nominated for the program. According to press release by Delta, about 10,000 were nominated last year.

In the words of CEO Richard Anderson,

 “We say it all the time here — Delta people cannot be replicated, and our Chairman’s Club honorees represent the best of what Delta has to offer.”

It looks like Delta celebrates the honorees in style. They walk the red carpet across Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta to the cheers of their colleagues before the ceremony begins. [Here’s a touching video about the program and its ‘star’ honorees]

Caring Front and Center

I love how Delta how celebrates the winners. It reminded me of a neat program by the South African insurance company Etana and their program REDwards. The awards honor the efforts of employees who have gone above and beyond in living the Etana values. The actual awards are made by local artists and are given out to reinforce the core values at the company: Be Open, Know, Grow, Give and Make it Happen.

Similar to Delta, here was the added touch that really drove home the recognition. To coincide with the event, Etana bought billboards near the home office. The billboards highlighted the different winners from the REDwards. A total surprise and delight for employees when they returned to work the following day. Here is Kurt Solomon with his billboard:

Kurt&MakeItHappen

Recognition is Key

Here’s an excerpt from my latest book, What’s Your Green Goldfish on recognition:

Recognition fuels a sense of worth and belonging in individuals. No rocket science here. As humans we crave acceptance. Yet, the majority of companies see recognition as an afterthought. Most are putting the cart before the horse. Recognition can impact satisfaction and more importantly performance.

Here are five Green Goldfish from the book highlighting Recognition

green goldfish decision lens action figures

1. Get Creative and Have Fun – Virginia based Decision Lens (Green Goldfish #712) awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee.  According to Co-Founder John Saaty,

“It’s a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that’s more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that.”  

2. Make it Visible – The Tabar (Green Goldfish #411) Thumbs Up Award is a roaming statue that sits on an employee’s desk when he or she goes over and above the call of job performance.

nerdery green goldfish

3. Do it often and consistently – Every week The Nerdery (Green Goldfish #305) agency compiles a video of shout-outs, with employees publicly praising their fellow nerds for going above and beyond. Five shout-out recipients are chosen for free lunches the following week. The weekly shout-out video is played for all at the Friday afternoon Bottlecap Talk, where the agency celebrates the successful launch of a recent project with a show-and-tell demo led by the rockstar developers who made it happen.

campbell-soup-co-green-goldfish

4. Take Note – it doesn’t have to cost anything. Former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company (Green Goldfish #21) Doug Conant is a big proponent of the power of handwritten notes. In Doug’s words,

“Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I would spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell’s. Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments.(I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don’t use a computer). I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It’s the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.

5.  Don’t play politics – You need to recognize everyone on their merits. Long before he became CEO of iProspect (Green Goldfish #739), back as an analyst at Bain Capital and KPMG, Robert J. Murray had an idea on how you should run a services business.

“One thing that always surprised me in prior work experiences is when your assets walk out the door each day, why aren’t companies doing more to value the people doing the business?”

Mr. Murray thinks he’s found the answer to that, and quite a large number of his employees happen to agree. Mr. Murray’s formula: hire competitive people; promote early and often; give constant feedback, including iProps — notes of encouragement. “We are a meritocracy. When positions come open, we don’t care if you’ve been here six months or six years — we will promote the best person into that position,” he said.

RECOGNITION RESONATES

Recognition is effective. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30% of chief financial officers cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective non monetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is key to making them feel appreciated.

Remember, it’s not just an afterthought, it’s a driver of performance.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – When you publicly recognize your employees, you are also sending a message to your customers. That message is CARING. It’s a sign of warmth. In the words of Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske in The Human Brand, the brand is demonstrating the principle of worthy intentions. Recognition sends a message. Actions truly speak louder than words. Here is Chris sharing one of my favorite stories about Panera:

The Kickstart 2014 Edition of the EXTRA, EXTRA Newsletter

KICKSTART 2014 EDITION
Hi, it’s Stan. Happy New Year!
Greetings from the freezing cold of North Carolina. I hope this reaches you in good health and spirits.
I’m kicking off 2014 with some big goals and plans. What’s your five goals for the New Year? Let me know how I can help.
Enjoy the Newsletter!
______________________
FEATURED POST:
All Customers and Employees Are NOT Created Equal

This post was featured on Switch & Shift. It talks about the Power of Peas and introduces my newest book, Golden Goldfish (coming on May 1st):

107 years ago a man would stumble across an idea that would change the course of history. This revelation would come from a simple observation in his vegetable garden. Vilfredo noticed something interesting about his pea pods. He discovered that 80% of his peas came from a mere 20% of his pods. This intrigued the 59 year-old Italian economist. Soon Vilfredo was applying this ratio to other socioeconomic scenarios. His last name was Pareto and his most famous findings were that 20% of the people in Italy owned 80% of the land and that …

Are all customers created equal?

When talking about how to invest our time and resources in the fields of customer experience and employee engagement, the answer should be clear. In the spirit of Juran, we should be focusing on the vital few. My first two books, Purple Goldfish and Green Goldfish, explored the “little extras” you do for all customers and employees. The underlying premise is that you standardize these programs across your entire workforce and customer base. While these efforts are important for establishing differentiation and improving overall culture, they are probably not the most efficient use of resources.

The Golden Goldfish

I’m currently writing my third book about goldfish. It’s the “golden goldfish.” The little things you do for your top 20% of employees and customers.

Why Gold? Gold is one of the three colors of Mardi Gras. It’s a direct reference to the birthplace of the creole word called lagniappe. A word that Mark Twain once said, “was worth traveling all the way to New Orleans to get.” Inspired by Pareto, my goal is to find the Top 201 examples of how companies do the little extras for the vital few.

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COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU 
The first half of 2014 is shaping up nicely. I’ll be making stops around the country in
Philadelphia, Chicago, Richmond, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Key West, Orlando, Savannah and Raleigh. The big news is that I’m heading to Australia in April for Customer 360. The conference will take place just outside of Sydney in the majestic Hunter Valley:

EVENT SPOTLIGHT :
One event I’m pumped for is the first ever conference that combines marketing with creative. It’s called the High Five Conference and its being held at the Sheraton in Downtown Raleigh on Feb. 26+27.
PLANNING FOR 2014? Keep me in mind if you a looking for a keynote, breakout session, workshop, webinar or strategy session on exceeding customer expectations or driving employee engagement.
Ready to stand out in a sea of sameness?
 

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WEBSITE OVERHAUL
9 INCH marketing received a makeover over the holidays. It’s about 95% completed.
 
3 minute favor: I’m looking for feedback and suggestions on improvements. Please send me your topline thoughts to stan@9inchmarketing.com.
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BOOK RECO’S AND A SUGGESTION
What am I currently reading?
Here’s the list:
 
Audience – Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers by JK Rohrs
z.e.r.o. – zero paid media as the new marketing model by Joseph Jaffe and Maarten Albarda
Employee Engagement by Scott Carbonara
Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy Worldby Michael Hyatt
Effortless Experience – Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyaltyby Matthew Dixon
The Human Brand – How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske
Here’s the suggestion: Who has time to read books? Confession – I actually don’t read the majority of books I pick up. That’s because I listen to most of them as audiobooks through Audible.com. Here a link to Audible where you can get your first three months of membership for .95 cents a month. [NOTE: There is no affiliate link. I’m just a huge fan of the service and this is a great deal for three books that expires on1/10/14] If Audible isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to ask your local library about loaning audiobooks. There are great tools out there like the Overdrive app [hat tip to Doug Rice] that allow you to access books through any smartphone or tablet.
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Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Here is the slideshare which includes the newly inducted PG Hall of Fame Class of ’13:

Thinking Inside the Box to Promote Customer Loyalty around Christmas

One of the 12 types of Purple Goldfish is In the Bag / Out of the Box. Smart companies realize there is an opportunity to leverage surprise and delight by delivering a little something extra. A sign of caring that gets thrown in for good measure.

My friend Sal Vilardo shared a fun PG story yesterday:

Hey Stan,

honestSo, we did the whole trial order from The Honest Company (@honest) and completely forgot that if you don’t cancel, they will ship the next month too. We kept moving out the shipment and forgot about it one month until a soft charge appeared on our card. Jess called to cancel the shipment, but it couldn’t be stopped. The customer service agent said they would send a prepaid return bag and would have FedEx come pick it up. We wouldn’t be charged a restocking fee and would be refunded the full amount.
 
Long story short, the box showed up today and had a little something extra in it. A Frasier Fir and a book for the kiddos.
little woodsman
They sent us a tree!!! Who sends a tree with their diapers and wipes!? The company is all about environmental stewardship and we got a tree to plant with the kiddos…Needless to say, we are now setting up a monthly order for our youngest. They won us over! We went from wanting to stop the shipment to setting up a second order.
 
Oh, the power of Lagniappe!
 
Thought you would enjoy,
Sal

Human Brand What a tremendous story! It speaks volumes about Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company. The company scores high on the two factors that drive our emotional reactions and ultimate loyalty to a brand. According to Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske in The Human Brand

“Research tells us that, thanks to the struggle for survival among our early ancestors, we all rely on a primal, unconscious ability to quickly size up others according to two specific categories of perception: warmth and competence.” 

Honest was responsive to the issue (competence) and thoughtful with the little extra (warmth).

Malone and Fiske spent three years studying more than 45 major companies. The research has confirmed that warmth perceptions and communal relationships are the dominant drivers of customer loyalty. What’s a brand to do? The authors posit in a recent BusinessWeek.com article,

“…lasting prosperity requires a fundamental shift in business priorities, a shift in which individual customer relationships are every bit as important as short-term profit. Our success as humans has always depended on the cooperation and loyalty of others, and in that regard, our capacity to express warmth and competence ranks among our most precious assets. Therefore, keeping the best interests of others in balance with our own is simply a form of highly enlightened self-interest.”

I couldn’t agree more. Companies need to find ways to leverage individual customer relationships by doing a tangible extra. Actions speaks louder than words.

Five more “cases” of In the Bag / Out of the Box

Here’s five more examples from the book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish:

imgres-6#1. Johnny CupcakesJohnny Cupcakes bakes its way into Purple Goldfish Project at #636. He was submitted in a tweet by David Knies @davidknies:

@9INCHmarketing stan check out @johnnycupcakes and what they do in their shipments to customers!”

It turns out that Johnny Cupcakes spends time creating a few purple goldfish to accompany his mail order shipments. Here is a comment from a forum:

“What a great display. So, there was a. the box, b. the tissue paper, c. the bag, d. the shirt, e. the hang tag, f. the oven mit label, g. the home alone card, h. the business card, i. the button, and j. the candy.”

Wait a second . . . I didn’t see any cupcakes in that package??? Turns out that Cupcakes is Johnny’s nickname. His name is Earle and Johnny Earle doesn’t make cupcakes. He makes T-shirts and Johnny knows marketing.

Here are three takeaways from Johnny Cupcakes:

1. Details, details, details – Johnny understands that you need to do the little things to stand out in a sea of sameness.  You need to create an experience for your customers and make your brand talkable. The product in ovens + bakery counters, the oven mit hang tags, the takeout boxes and the 80’s T-shirt designs all play a part in creating the Johnny Cupcakes brand.

2. Keep it fresh and limited – Despite numerous offers by department and specialty stores, Johnny prefers to keep it personal and only sells his products online or in his three stores (hometown of Hull, MA, Boston and LA).  All of his shirts are limited editions, some of which are runs of 100 or less.

3. Be approachable and take care of your fans – Part of Johnny’s appeal is his personal story of a scrappy kid selling T-shirts out of an ‘86 Toyota.  He’s an American success story of following your passion.  Johnny makes himself accessible by blogging, releasing videos and even hosting customer appreciation events.

#2. Peter Millar – Minty Fresh and Packed with Detail

peter millarPurple Goldfish #437 comes courtesy of University of North Carolina Professor Joe Bob Hester @joebobhester.

Joe Bob forwarded this article from Ron Green Jr. at the Charlotte Observer. It highlights Peter Millar and its founder Scott Knott. Here is an excerpt:

“They remember the mints”

When boxes of golf shirts and shorts and other high-end menswear are shipped from the Peter Millar office and warehouse, the packing list includes mints.

When customers unpack their orders, they are struck by three things: The quality of what they’ve ordered; each item comes out of the box in the order it’s listed on the packing sheet; and, mints are included for the pleasure of it.

It’s a little thing but this year when a few boxes arrived short of mints (they ran out briefly), phone calls started coming.

perpetualkid#3. Perpetual Kid – #549 in the Purple Goldfish Project comes courtesy of Ariel Savrin-Jacobs.

In her own words:

“I spoke to you after blogging about your purple goldfish project this summer when I interned for STELLAService. I’m happy to finally say I’ve found a purple goldfish! I checked your list, so if its updated I think this is a new one.

Last week I bought a few fun things online for my dorm room from PerpetualKid.com. It was my first time buying from them, and I’ll certainly be a repeat customer. The site is overall really fun (for example, I got measuring cups that stack like a Russian nesting doll), and it definitely didn’t hurt that my order placed at 10 pm on the 18th shipped the next morning and arrived on the 20th. But the best part of it all was the surprise “finger monster” (for lack of better words) sitting on top when I opened the package. While I don’t quite know what to do with it, I sure got a kick out of it, and I bet many other customers probably did too. I’ve attached a picture of this rubber “finger monster”. Hope it helps on your way to 1,001 and I will let you know if I come across any others!

maroni cuisine of northport#4. Maroni’s Cuisine – A fixed tasting menu, legendary meatballs, free wine and a jar of sauce makes Maroni Cuisine a Long Island Legend:

Maroni Cuisine of Northport pours in at #223 in the Purple Goldfish Project courtesy of Clark Johnson:

“Maroni Cuisine in Northport NY is consistently rated by Zagat voters as either the best or among the best restaurants on Long Island. Mike Maroni beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown! The meals are exclusively customized tasting menus, prix fixe, with all the wine you can drink included.  At the end of the meal, hours later, guests are generally presented with jars of Maroni Pasta sauce as a Thank You. Once you have used it, you want to go back for more (both the meal and the sauce!).”

#5. Michael Lynne’s – This Purple Goldfish Has Balls (three of them to be exact)

michael lynne tennis#245 was submitted by Will Prest. Will is from Minneapolis and he shared this gem from the Twin Cities.  It comes in as #245 in the Purple Goldfish Project:

Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop

“When you pick up your professionally strung racquet, you get a new can of Penn balls with the Michael Lynne Tennis logo and name in big letters on it. It is a nice gesture, plus his balls are left all over the clubs around town. Here is the website. It got me to visit the site and I read a few of the articles on there…they were a nice surprise.”

Companies that tend to really get the concept of marketing lagniappe, tend to have multiple examples in their arsenal. Maybe it has something to do with fish wanting to swim in schools. Here is an excerpt from an article about Michael Lynne’s in an industry publication:

“…it’s not only about sales. Fully supportive of Minneapolis’ large tennis community, Lynne puts kids’ and local team photos on his back wall along with local tennis stories and news. And he’s happy to offer tennis tips to his customers and encourages them to “test drive” racquets for free.

…Clothing is grouped by size and the price is always visible. Racks are never overcrowded and pieces are displayed on the wall so customers can see them as “outfits.” When customers try on clothes, they find large dressing rooms with excellent lighting. Also, all the employees don various tennis outfits to work so customers can see what the clothes actually look like “on.”The store also has six stringing machines, so, as Michael notes, “You can have your racquets strung while you wait.” But even “waiting” at Michael Lynne’s Tennis Shop is a pleasure. Customers can watch the Tennis Channel on TV while having a snack or sipping gourmet coffee the shop supplies.

“We’re a destination point,” Lynne says. “People have to drive here, so we want to make sure our staff is well-informed on the merchandise and offers great customer service.”

“Michael and Mimzy personify customer service, and they teach their staff to take this approach,” says Greg Mason, senior director of sales for HEAD. “It’s the little things like greeting each customer, then thanking them as they leave, writing thank-you notes to repeat customers — that really makes the difference.”

Let me count the purple goldfish:

  1. Free balls with restringing
  2. Free racquet Demo’s
  3. Stringing while you wait in style
  4. Large well lit dressing rooms
  5. Hand written thank you’s.

I love the last paragraph of the article, “It’s the little things . . . that make the biggest difference.”  AMEN.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is Chris Malone talking about The Human Brand at the Human Capital Institute: