[This post was taken from an article in the Spring 2014 edition of the The Diary of Alpha Kappa Psi. AKPsi is the oldest and largest professional business fraternity in the world]
A job connected to the New York Yankees. Going to work every day in Yankee Stadium. Good chance you’re thinking of a character in the a popular 1990’s TV show. “That was my George Constanza moment,” says Stan Phelps, Marist ’91-Life, referring to the “Seinfeld” character.
But the fictional George Costanza, who referred to himself as “slow-witted,” was famous for not actually doing any work while at work. Phelps, on the other hand, was busy representing Adidas in its relationship wih the Yankees. He had the good fortune to witness World Series victories during each of his three years at Yankee Stadium. “I actually got to ride in the ticker tape parade.”
Phelps got his start in business studying marketing and human resources at Marist College. “I spent a year in Australis and studied business there, and it was commonplace for professors and students to have social events and connections outside of the classroom,” he recalls. When he returned, he tried to find a similar experience at Marist.
He decided Alpha Kappa Psi could fill a similar role, but Marist College didn’t have a chapter. So Phelps set out to start a colony and, with the help of of a professor who had previously been an AKPsi advisor at another college (Herbert Sherman), the group obtained full chapter status in his senior year, with more than 50 students. After finishing Marist, he added a JD/MBA from Villanova University.
Phelps held a number of roles during his marketing career at Adidas, and his work with the Yankees wasn’t the only one that put him in the company of sports greats. He also spent time in The Netherlands managing the company’s global sports marketing for tennis, dealing with such stars as Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis, Marat Safin and Bob/Mike Bryan. His resume also includes work with IMG, the PGA of America and the experiential marketing firm Synergy, where his title was Chief Solutions Officer.
These days Phelps has another unusual title: Chief Measurement Officer for the consultancy he founded, 9 INCH marketing – “That’s the distance between the stem of your brain and the top of your heart,” he explains. His goal is anything but modest: “My mission is to shift the marketing paradigm.”
Marketing, he believes, should be less about acquiring prospects and more about delighting existing customers. “I want companies to invest more in the experiences of the customers they have,” he says. Why? Because those existing customers, if they’re delighted by an experience that goes far beyond expectations, will tell others. “As a business, I tell people, it’s your responsibility to give your customers something to talk about, to tweet about, to blog about, to Yelp about.”
That kind of word-of-mouth marketing generates referrals – customers who walk in the door because someone else told them about the great experience. Customers gained by referral, Phelps say, spend up to twice as much money as ordinary customers do, and they’re also more likely to refer more customers.
“The idea is giving that little unexpected extra to exceed the expectations of your customers,” he says. “You differentiate your products and services, but more important, it gives customers a reason to talk about you.”
You could say Phelps wrote the book exceptional customer experiences. He crowd sourced to collect more than one thousand examples of companies that go above-and-beyond to delight customers, then analyzed what her learned. The result is a book called, What’s Your Purple Goldfish – 12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. Phelps followed that up with a similar exploration of the little extra things successful companies do to connect with and inspire their employees. That book is What’s Your Green Goldfish – 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement.
“I help companies capture the hearts of their customers and employees.” he says. “Companies that don’t exceed the expectations of their customers by doing the little things are going to resort to becoming commodities.”
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – I had the opportunity to be part of a brilliant advertising campaign during my days at the Yankees. It was called Only in New York. Here are three spots:
The ANSKY guys
Do the El Duque (featuring David Cone)
Man Down (R.I.P. Boss)