Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Kimpton Hotels

Hall of Fame Class of 2010 – Doubletree

Traveling can really bring on the tinge of loneliness, but the experts at Kimpton Hotels anticipate such things. That’s why they introduced their Guppy Love program, one of my absolute favorite examples from the Purple Goldfish project. With Guppy Love, just ask the front desk for a goldfish to be delivered to your room. This goldfish will not only keep you company during your stay, but the Kimpton staff will feed and take care of your finned friend for you. That’s service!



Guppy Love was introduced at the Hotel Monaco back in 2001. A fun extension of Kimpton’s pet-friendly theme (select properties have Directors of Pet Relations) it’s a true Purple Goldfish which customers will remember for years to come.


It’s actually quite simple, as I found out. “The ‘Guppy Love’ program is a fun extension of our pet-friendly nature as well as our emphasis on indulging the senses to heighten the travel experience,” says Steve Pinetti, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. “‘Guppy Love’ offers one more unique way to relax, indulge and promote health of mind, body and spirit in our home-away-from-home atmosphere.”


When individuals or families travel, it can be easy to miss the comforts of home, no matter how enjoyable the trip. Kimpton knows this and, in addition to providing amazing customer service (extended to family pets) they offer a little something extra–a fish–to make the long days and nights away from your own bed more enjoyable.

For today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) here is a deeper understanding of why humans value their pets over other humans.

Why Providing Transparency to Customers is Best


Transparency is something that a lot of businesses struggle with–especially with their customers. However, in today’s world, data and technology make it easier than ever to give customers what they want. In the process, this can also serve to drive customer happiness.

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The Ever-Changing Concept of Marketing


One of the things that I love the most about marketing is that it’s an ever-changing concept. Marketing of old had customers embracing billboards and newspaper advertisements. It got people in the door by using flashy photos and words that really spoke to what people wanted. Words like “sale” and “discount” and “today only” were used again and again, driving more and more people into stores. In truth, marketing was that way for a very long time–but once modern technology, as we know it was introduced, that kind of marketing started to fall by the wayside.

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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:

Take the Initiative to Target the Right Customers


It’s a theme throughout my book, Blue Goldfish. The customer experience begins with leveraging data and technology that is available to you. Consider the following example: The year was 1981—the same year the first Space Shuttle rocketed from the Florida coast. A few weeks after STS-1 launched in April a sixteen-year-old Michael Dell, then a high school student, took a summer job selling subscriptions for The Houston Post.

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Why Understanding the Customer Journey Should Matter to Your Business


In my last blog, I made mention of the customer journey. The idea that customers are on a journey is a concept that I find very interesting, and so I wanted to expand upon the idea even further. Here’s the truth: knowing that our customers have wants and needs isn’t news. On the other hand, offering a journey to those wants and needs and then going one step further to continue that journey after customers have made their purchase, is an idea that many business owners are still struggling with.

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The Power of Data (and How it Applies to Your Business)


The following is from the foreword in my book, Blue Goldfish. Written by Shep Hyken, the following words really get into the core of the Blue Goldfish philosophy–and why it’s so important to businesses. I hope you’ll enjoy his words as much as I do.

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How to Give Better Customer Experiences in 2017


2016 is coming to a close. I’m not sure about you, but I certainly felt that the year went by far too quickly. That being said, there were some very important customer service lessons that you may have picked up on if you were perceptive. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons was that a positive overall customer experience is becoming more and more important to brands. With our target audiences having access to everything from online review systems to social media, many companies found themselves scrambling for customers instead of the other way around. Customers are getting more and more choosy with where they spend their time and who they’ll give their money to. What does that mean for the New Year?

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Are Your Customers a Hobby or a CAREER?

Creating a sustainable customer cycle is not guesswork; it’s a science.

The overarching system and processes for building sales, in theory, are very easy to create. There are five components within a successful sales system which are: Customer Attraction, Retention, Experience, Extra spend, and Referrals. An easy way to remember this principle is with the acronym, CAREER.

Like anything, it’s the implementation of a well defined sales system and commitment to genuinely serving our fellow man without reverting back to mass media, gimmicks, and quick fixes that is the difficult part.

I believe that there are really only two schools of thought as to why an entity exists. You are either in business in order to facilitate a sustainable return for shareholders or to serve your fellow man. These reasons for existing are not mutually exclusive and we are in a time where these two concepts need to converge (see: Red Goldfish).

Profit is important, yes. Without profit, you cannot stay in business obviously. More importantly, you can’t grow in order to give more back, to create more value, and to manifest opportunity for others.

I would argue that by serving your fellow man and creating value for them, the inherent byproduct is profit and it’s not a dirty word.

What I’m proposing is extremely hard work. It takes a significant amount of time to critically think, design a plan, organize your team’s efforts, and consistently execute on a daily basis.

It requires extreme discipline to juggle the various sales components, analyze the results and continually improve your processes. This will be especially uncomfortable because you’ve probably never done this before. However, I promise you that it’s worth it.

Get uncomfortable. Reallocate your time. Master the theory and the execution. Do it even when you don’t see immediate results. Make the sacrifices necessary to scale your sales processes and enjoy the long-term benefits. When you do this successfully, you’ll have accomplished the following:

  • A firm grasp on who your customers are and how to touch their hearts and minds.
  • How to create a relationship that exceeds your customer’s expectations.
  • Customers that willingly spend more with you, and under their own volition.
  • An army of raving fans that are eager to tell their entire network about you.

Just imagine if you could find the right customers, ensure that they have a spectacular experience time in and time out, allow them to spend more with you, and enthusiastically refer everyone they know to do business with you as well? That’s the goal after all, right?

For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume that you have many of the other necessary components such as a fantastic product, sufficient capitalization, and a culture that attracts and keeps top-tier talent. Let’s take a look at an example from my vocation to illustrate the five different areas of CAREER:

Customer Acquisition – ClickFunnels, Facebook ads, and retargeting.

Retention – Follow-up thank you email after initial shipment and every third shipment, yearly thank you card at random, and a free ebook every quarter.

Experience – Thank you phone call upon initial delivery, monthly customer feedback contest, and surprise next day shipping.

Extra spend – Exclusive email one time offers (OTOs) once per quarter, gifting program where customer can gift the product to a friend, and a consultative offer with every shipment.

Referrals – ClickBank affiliate marketing, email marketing, and a refer-a-friend program.

As you can see, there are only three critical activities within each area of the customer cycle. There could be more and there could be less activities but of course with focus comes demonstrable results.

How about you? Do you have a rock solid plan in these areas or are you just throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks? Leave a thought below.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Check out Chuck Shaeffer providing another vantage point and a more granular analysis around this topic.

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.

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: