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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.

Are you leveraging your key customers and employees as multipliers?

A Simple Truth

Not all customers and are created equal. For the majority of businesses, 80% of profitability will be generated by 20% of customers. These folks are the “vital few” of your customers. Similarly, not all employees are created equal. 80% of the value generated typically comes from 20% of employees.

Multipliers BookA similar idea was driven home in a book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. The book speaks to leadership and how great leaders get more from their employees. Essentially it showcases how these multipliers stretch the abilities of their team to achieve results that exceed expectations. The opposite of a multiplier is a diminisher. Diminishers focus on themselves and drain the intelligence out of others.

Doubling down: You want Multipliers

In the words of author Liz Wiseman,

“Multipliers don’t just get a little more from their people, they get vastly more. When we asked people how much of their capability, their ideas, their energy diminishers got from them versus multipliers, we found that diminishers on average got 48 percent of people’s brainpower. Multipliers on average got 97 percent. So you can actually double the brainpower of your organization for free. You don’t need additional resources to potentially get twice the capability out of the staff you already have.”

The same concept that apply to leadership can be applied to customer experience as well as employee engagement. Let’s look at the five disciplines of Multipliers:

Credit: Leadership Now

Credit: Leadership Now

1. The Talent Magnet – Are you creating an environment that’s conducive to retaining your top customers and employees?

2. The Liberator – Do you bring intensity to your work that keeps top customers and employees on top of their game?

3. The Challenger – Are you finding creative ways to stretch the capabilities of your top customers and employees?

4. The Debate Maker – Are you speaking last? Finding ways to engage top employees and customers into decision-making and product development processes?

5. The Investor – Are you allowing top customers and employees the opportunity to own key segments of a program or initiative?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Sometimes in life, you just have to double down. Here’s a money clip from the 1996 classic Swingers with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau:

 

Creating a hands-on experience drives advocacy and word of mouth

Play Well

Last weekend my son Thomas celebrated his 8th birthday. The choice for his birthday party… The Lego Movie on its opening weekend.

A new theater nearby offered a party room in tandem with the movie. My wife provided a fun craft for the kids in addition to Lego birthday cupcakes. A fun time was had by all 10 kids.

Jenn, Thomas and James sporting their Lego hats

Jenn, Thomas and James sporting their Lego hats

Providing a Hands-On Experience

birthdays at stone theatres

You don’t think of a movie theater when you think of birthday parties. You’re more apt to think jump zones and bowling alleys. Yet,  Stone Theatres 14 at Park West in Morrisville, NC offers birthday parties. Smart move as brands are understanding the way to engagement and advocacy is through experience. Reaping the rewards by offering various add-on elements, classes and experiences.

All types of businesses are starting to take notice. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “In the last three years, Creative Kidstuff, a small chain of children’s toy stores in Minneapolis, has been using downtime in its party rooms to offer free prenatal and birthing classes as well as children’s music classes. The stores also hold events for families, like the Decorate Your Bike workshop on the Fourth of July and Fingerprint Memories, where children create a holiday-themed tile using their fingerprints. Two years ago, when the company began sponsoring a summer concert series, about 25 people attended the first, said Roberta Bonoff, the company’s chief executive: ‘This summer, we had 500 people.”

Hitting the Mark

Ambassador_App_266Maker’s Mark does the little extra to cultivate advocacy with its best customers. The manufacturer of premium bourbon has a unique ambassador program. Visitors to the Loretto, Kentucky distillery can take a pledge to share the love of Mark’s Mark with family and friends. Sworn in ambassadors names are etched on a brass plate and placed on a barrel. Maker’s allows the ambassadors to follow the whole process of creation. Speaking of bourbon, here are the four W’s of Maker’s Mark:

makers_mark__spanAfter six or seven years the ambassadors are invited to come back and pickup a bottle or two of the aged bourbon from their very own barrel. Of course, one of the ultimate hands-on perk is picking up your bottle and dipping it into the signature red wax.

TAKEAWAY: A shortcut to to engagement and advocacy is through experience. How are you adding on to create that little extra “hands-on” experience for your best customers? What’s Your Golden Goldfish?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a little Lego trivia:

– 30% of all Lego sets are bought by adults for their own use. These big kids are called AFOL’s meaning “Adult Fans of Lego’s” (Curious to find out more, there’s a documentary for that)

LEGO is formed from the Danish words “LEg GOdt” meaning “play well”. In Latin, it means, “I put together”

– 2014 marks the 65th year the company has made plastic bricks. As of 2013, the company has produced over a half a trillion lego pieces

In the spirit of the late Paul Harvey, now for the rest of the story. Here is a great claymation from Lego on the history of the company:

Disney offers its best customers a little extra magic

Disney Extra Magic HoursOn designated days, one of the Walt Disney World theme parks opens an hour early and two hours later [No evening magic hours at the Animal Kingdom]. These times are called Disney’s extra magic hours. The added golden goldfish is for Disney Resort guests only and includes guests staying at the Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Hotels and the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort.

Here’s a park guest interacting with Disney characters during an extra magic hour:

These resort guests are Disney’s best customers. They spend all their time on the property. Not only do they spend considerably more, but they stay longer and come back more often. The extra magic hours is just one of a handful of extra Disney benefits of staying on property:

  1. disney baggageSkip the hassle of baggage claim! Guests enjoy complimentary transportation for them and their bags between Orlando International Airport and the Disney Resort hotels, then back again at the end of their vacation.
  2. Stay close to the action. Resort guests can leverage complimentary transportation like monorails, ferryboats and motorcoaches.  As well as complimentary Theme Park parking for guests who are driving.
  3. Package-Pickup-CompressedMany shopping purchases can be delivered straight to the guests Disney Resort hotel so that you don’t miss a minute of fun!
  4. Guests have the option of having meals and snacks included with their vacation package.
  5. ftwildernessoutdoormovieA variety of hotel options with extras. Hotels where you can splash down a pool slide to hotels where you can watch a movie under the stars…even hotels with Disney Character Dining.

TAKEAWAY: Disney says these little extras help guests stay close to the “heart of the magic.” How can you create special touches like Disney does? How are you making the experience memorable for your best customers? What’s Your Golden Goldfish?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a montage of the Phelps family visiting three years ago. Great experience at the character breakfast for Thomas’ fifth birthday:

Who Gets Treated Better? Employees, Customers or Your Top 20% of Both?

This was originally posted on Salesformics:

Who Gets Treated Better?

110131_BB_STARBUCKSLOGO.jpg.CROP.original-originalMicah Solomon recently wrote about Starbucks in Forbes.com. He shared a conversation he had with an employee in Seattle. The employee asked Micah,

“Do you think Starbucks takes better care of its employees, or of its customers?”

Micah didn’t have an answer for him. And, as it turned out, this was the point. The employee added,

“I’ve worked here a long time, and I’ve thought about it for a while. And I just don’t know. I think Starbucks cares about, and takes care of, both groups. I think it’s equal.”

This is truly an aspirational goal, “When its a toss up as to who is treated better?” But for the majority of companies, it comes down to prioritization. Where do you focus your time and resources first? Based on my research, here is the ideal progression:

purple green and golden goldfish1. Employees (Green)
2. Customers (Purple)
3. Top 20% of customers / employees (Gold)

Start With Employees

Take care of your employees first. You can’t have happy enthused customers without happy engaged employees. There is a great book by the CEO of HCL Technologies on this premise. It’s called, Employees First, Customers Second. Another one on culture is by the founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard called, Let My People Go Surfing. Your actions need to demonstrate your commitment to your employees. Case in point: ING Direct used to fire thousands of customers each month, especially when they abused employees or made unreasonable demands on them.

Then Customers

How can you do the little things to add value and make things easier for your customers? Here are some top B2B examples from companies such as FedEx, Disney and Wufoo:

And Top 20% Last

The last in the progression is your top customers and top employees. Twenty percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your profitability. I recently wrote about this on Switch & Shift in a post entitled, All Customers and Employees are Not Created Equal. These employees and customers are your vital few. The idea is that you don’t treat everyone the same, you treat everyone fairly.

employees first customer second top last

Imagine a round target like on an archery range. The outer ring is employees, the middle ring is customers and the bullseye is top customers / employees. Start on the outside and work your way into the center.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure)Here is Howard Schultz talking about the Starbucks brand at the London Business Forum. Great quote in here, “You can’t exceed the expectations of your customer as an enterprise… unless you exceed the expectations of your employees first.”

All Customers and Employees are Not Created Equal

vilfredo paretoThe Goldfish and the Pea

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 finding was that 20% of the people in Italy owned 80% of the land.

Partly because of Pareto’s work, the field of economics evolved from a branch of moral philosophy, as practiced by Adam Smith, into a data intensive field. Yet Vilfredo Pareto’s discovery and contribution was largely unheralded until two decades after his death. During the second word war, social scientist Joseph Juran uncovered his work while streamlining shipment processes for the Lend-Lease Administration in Washington, D.C. Juran was the first to coin the phrases, “Pareto’s Law of Unequal Distribution” and the “80/20 rule.”

Pretty soon Juran was applying the rule to a number of scenarios. Here are a few of the findings:

  • 80 percent of the World’s GDP is controlled by 20 percent of the people
  • 80 percent of the complaints come from 20 percent of the customers
  • 80 percent of a company’s sales come from 20 percent of the products

The Vital Few

Juran’s most important application came within the field of quality control. He noticed that the majority of defects came from a small percentage of the total causes. Juran famously referred to Pareto’s Principle as, “The law of the vital few and the trivial many.” Juran pioneered the quality movement. His work is credited with spawning the six sigma and lean manufacturing philosophies. It was Juran that traveled to Japan in the 1950’s, giving a number of lectures that were responsible for igniting the Japanese quality manufacturing movement.

According to The Economist, since Juran’s original research, “Everyone from Xerox to the IDC and even the United Nations have tested Pareto’s Law, and found that within a tolerance of 5%, the 80/20 rule works just fine across a range of cause and effect scenarios.”

The 80/20 rule was also recently popularized by Tim Ferriss in his 2007 book, “The Four-Hour Work Week.”  Ferriss suggests “firing” the 80% of customers who only bring in 20% of overall sales. His rationale is that it gives you more free time and allows you to focus on your most profitable customers.

Of all the applications of Pareto’s law, here’s the three I believe are the most important,

  • 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
  • 80% of a company’s sales are made by 20% of its sales staff
  • 80% of new business comes from 20% of your existing customer base

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

what's your golden goldfish coverI’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 top examples of how companies do the little extras for the vital few. Here are some current examples:

  1. Home James – If you are an upper class flyer of Virgin Atlantic, they offer free car service within 75 miles of the airport. In addition, the driver calls dispatch 15 minutes out with the number of bags the person has and when they arrive at the baggage carousel, they tag and grab it.
  2. New Jersey – The Tampa Bay Lightning gave season ticket holders a special STH game jersey. Embedded in a patch on the sleeve was a computer chip. Scan it and receive 25% and 35% off food and merchandise respectively at the arena. Nice way to acknowledge and thank your best customers.
  3. Helicopter Roadside Assistance – If your Lexus LFA* breaks down over in Europe, the car manufacturer will helicopter in a team to fix it. A big repair… no problem as Lexus is prepared to put you up in five star accommodations. (*one small snag, the LFA costs $400,000)

You don’t treat everyone the same, you treat everyone fairly

So – how do you get started developing Golden Goldfish? Here is a 3D circular framework inspired by Vilfredo, Joseph and Tim:

  1. Discover Design DeployDiscovery – The first step involves identifying customers and their needs so that these can be satisfied. Ferriss calls this deconstruction and selection. Who are your vital few? Find your critical 20% and more importantly determine what really matters to them.
  2. Design – The second step is about developing ideas and processes that can meet those needs. Prioritizing those you think can make the greatest impact. Then piloting and testing those concepts to gauge their effectiveness.
  3. Deployment – The third and last step is about operationalizing those ideas, measuring their progress, and constantly trying to improve those processes. The best organizations are those who resist sitting on their laurels. They realize today’s extras become tomorrow’s expectations. They treat these three steps as an ongoing circular process.

Are you willing to achieve more by doing less? Ready to count your peas? What’s Your Golden Goldfish?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is the late Jim Rohn talking about how Pareto applies to leadership. Some timeless insights here:

Seven fearless CX Predictions for 2014

casey stengel predictions

Predictions for 2014:

Baseball legend Casey Stengel once said, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” It’s strong advice for today’s unpredictable climate. Yet we enjoy prognosticating, especially at the end of the year. So, here are my seven fearless predictions for customer experience in 2014:

applebees tablets on tables#1. Technology for Dinner: Look for tablets and kiosks to change the experience of dining out. Both with ordering our meals and how we ask for the check. U.S. based chain Applebee’s leads the way. They will be installing 100,000 tablets in 2014. The early results have been eye opening: happier customers, quicker turns, higher average checks and bigger tips. What’s not to like? The universal sign for “bring the check” now includes a swipe and tap of your finger. (See related post: http://purple.shortcircuitmedia.com/2013/12/27/leveraging-technology-to-achieve-uncommon-service-and-reduce-waiting/)

Youtility book#2. Youtility: Look for the disciplines of customer experience and content marketing to intertwine in 2014. Jay Baer’s book Youtility advocates for companies to create marketing that customers want. Selling more by selling less. Helping customers with useful information or tools with no expectation of return. Companies will be more proactive as givers in the coming year. Don’t look now, but marketing will be trying to find ways to improve the customer experience. (See related post: http://www.slideshare.net/jaybaer/youtility-the-5-minute-version-with-videos)

easy button#3. Easy Does It: The metric CES (Customer Effort Score) will continue to gain traction in 2014. Look for a CES version 3.0 and for a greater emphasis on the ease of doing business throughout the entire experience. Based on research by McKinsey, consumers don’t view their overall experience by touchpoints (i.e. an interaction with customer service), they do so across the entire journey. (See related post: http://hbr.org/2013/09/the-truth-about-customer-experience/ar/1)

#4. Beyond M&M’s: The basics of customer experience are measurement and mapping. Both are smart first steps and if done correctly, they can be highly instructive. Look for most firms to get beyond the basics of Discovery and into CX Design. (See related post: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/mind_the_cx_gap)

what's your golden goldfish cover#5. Don’t Treat Everyone the Same, Treat Everyone Fairly: There will be an increased understanding and focus on key customers in 2014. Why? Because in most businesses, 20% of customers drive 80% of profitability. All customers are truly not created equal. Look for companies to listen and be proactive with their “Vital Few” more often. (See related post: http://switchandshift.com/all-customers-and-employees-are-not-created-equal)

#6. Faster Pussycat: Speed is a differentiator in online retail and customer experience. It’s already happening in China. In six major markets, the online retailer Jing Dong is offering 3-hour delivery. Not to be outdone, My Taxi from Germany is pioneering one-hour delivery. Don’t underestimate Bezos, Amazon is currently working on Drones. (See related post: http://techland.time.com/2013/12/26/amazon-holiday-delivery-woes-send-in-the-drones/)

#7. Small is going to be the New Big: Microinteractions will be a trend in 2014. Microinteractions are small moments that can make or break an experience. According to Jeannie Walters of 360Connext, “They don’t’ show up in reports, so unless you’re walking in your customers shoes, you’ll miss what can lead to big problems.” (See related post: http://www.slideshare.net/jeanniecw/microinteractions)

Today’s Lagniappe (one more thrown in for good measure) – Becoming Certifiable: CCXP is not the misspelling of the former Soviet Union. It’s the new certification that’s going to be introduced in 2014. The CXPA is offering a certification. Want the academic route? The Center for Services Leadership at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is offering a Certificate in Customer Experience. Here is Parrish Arturi providing the reasoning behind the new CCXP certification with Jim Rembach:

’13 – The Year of the Baker’s Dozen or Little Extra

Happy New Year

It’s New Year’s Day. The first day of 2013. When I think of 13, I immediately think of bad luck or the Baker’s Dozen. Given my choices, I’m focusing on the 13th bagel or little something extra for the next year.

But in order to truly understand a baker’s dozen, we need to travel back to its origin in England  800+ years ago:

baker's dozenIt dates back to the 13th century during the reign of Henry III. During this time there was a perceived need for regulations controlling quality, pricing and checking weights to avoid fraudulent activity. The Assize (Statute) of Bread and Ale was instituted to regulate the price, weight and quality of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in towns, villages and hamlets.

Bakers who were found to have shortchanged customers could be liable for severe punishment such as losing a hand with an axe. To guard against the punishment, the baker would give 13 for the price of 12, to be certain of not being known as a cheat.

The statute deals with weight and not the quantity. The merchants created the ‘baker’s dozen’ to change perception. They understood that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen.

The irony of the Baker’s Dozen is that its not based in given a little extra for the customer. It was about insurance and covering one’s backside for fear of losing a hand.

A Conscious Choice

I advocate that business should purposely goes above and beyond to provide a little something extra. Differentiation by design. A marketing investment back into your employees and customers. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure to achieve differentiation, drive retention, reinforce culture  and promote word of mouth.

Therefore I’m officially abandoning the Chinese calendar (Year of the Snake) and declaring it,

“The Year of the Goldfish”

2013 Year of the Goldfish

Here are my plans for 2013: The Year of the Goldfish

Purple Goldfish: Continue to promote the book, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?” and spread the word about the importance of creating signature added value for customers. I will continue to do keynotes, will introduce half day and full workshops and offer consulting services under the banner of 9 INCH marketing.

Green Goldfish: Finish the Green Goldfish Project. The little signature extras for employees. I’m currently at 807 examples with a targeted completion by the Ides of March. The second book in the trilogy, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on Friday, March 29th.

Golden Goldfish: Kick off the Golden Golden Goldfish Project. The extras you provide for the Top 20% of both employees and customers. The concept is based on the Pareto Principle and the fact that 80% of profitability can be typically attributed to 20% of your customers. Similarly, 80% of the value created by a business is generated by 20% of employees.

I’m looking forward to a big year exploring the extra mile.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – 2013 if the first year in the last 25 whereby no digits are repeated in the year. You have to go back to 1987 for the last occurrence.