12 Lessons on How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth

Over two years ago I set out on a quest. It was my belief that “differentiation via added value” was a game changing marketing strategy. I wanted to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe [i.e. Southwest’s Bags Fly Free, DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie, Five Guys Peanuts etc.] Companies that gave little unexpected extras to stand out from the crowd, improve customer experience and drive positive word of mouth.

I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decided on 1,001 examples and started the Purple Goldfish Project, but the good news is that we reached the goal with some fantastic examples.

In honor of giving back, I wanted to share a baker’s dozen of the biggest takeaways from my new book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth:

#1. What’s the Biggest Myth in Marketing?

The biggest myth in marketing is the ideas of meeting expectations. There is no such thing as meeting expectations. You either exceed them or you fall short. In a world where 60-80% of customers describe themselves as satisfied or very satisfied before going on to defect to other brands, merely “meeting expectations” is no longer an option.

#2. Two Paths Diverge in the Corporate Woods

You can’t be all things to all people. You only have two choices as a marketer: Create to spec and face being a commodity or set out to exceed expectations and become remark-able. Choose wisely…

#3. Shareholders vs. Customers?

Business is about creating and keeping customers. Customer experience should be Priority #1 in your marketing. Stop focusing on the “two in the bush” (prospects) and take care of the one in your hand (customers).

#4. Value is the New Black

Don’t compete on price. Cater to the 70% that buy based on value. Price is only relative to the value received.

#5. Phelps Corollary to the Pareto Principle

Traditional marketing is flawed. Eighty percent of your efforts will net 20% of your results. Focus on existing customers instead of the funnel by finding little extras that are tangible, valuable and talkable.

#6. Growth is Determined by 5 Factors

The growth of your product or service is similar to that of a goldfish. Growth is determined by 5 factors:

  1. Size of the bowl = Market
  2. # of other goldfish in the bowl = Competition
  3. Quality of the water in the bowl = Business Environment / Economy
  4. First 120 Days of Life = Start-up
  5. Genetic make-up = Differentiation

Assuming you’ve already been in business for four months, the only thing you can control is how you differentiate yourself. How you stand out in a “sea of sameness.”

#7. Blue Ocean Strategy vs. Purple Goldfish Pond Strategy

Purple Goldfish Pond Strategy is “differentiation via added value.” Finding signature extras that help you stand out, improve customer experience, reduce attrition and drive positive word of mouth.

purple goldfish strategy

#8. Acts of Kindness

Think of lagniappe as an added branded act of kindness. A beacon or sign that shows you care. Marketing via G.L.U.E (giving little unexpected extras). A little something thrown in for good measure.

lagniappe acts of kindness

#9. Lagniappe Economy

There is a middle ground between a Market Economy (quid pro quo) and a Gift Economy (free). A lagniappe economy is where there is an exchange of good and services for an exact value (market economy), plus a little unexpected extra that is given for good measure (gift economy).

lagniappe gift economy

#10. v4 Principle

v4 is when a consumer becomes a PROsumer. They stand up for a product or service and vouch for it, giving personal assurances to its value. As a marketer you need to figure out a way to make your product or service remark-able. Are you giving your customers something to talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about?

#11. Five Ingredients

There are 5 ingredients or R.U.L.E.S when creating a purple goldfish:

Relevant – the extra should be of value to the recipient
Unexpected – it should “surprise and delight”
Limited – the extra should be something rare, hard to find or signature to your business
Expression – it should be a sign that you care
Sticky – it should be memorable and talkable

#12. There are no traffic jams on the extra mile

The VM matrix calculates how a brand measures up on two important criteria: value and maintenance. The goal is to be seen as “high value” and “low maintenance” by your customers.

vm matrix

There are 12 types of Purple Goldfish based on value and maintenance:

#1. Throw-ins (value)

#2. In the Bag / Out of the Box (value)

#6. Pay it Forward (value)

#7. Follow-up / Thank You’s (maintenance)

#8. Added Service (maintenance)

#9. Convenience (maintenance)

#10. Waiting (maintenance)

#11. Special Needs (maintenance)

#12. Handling Mistakes (maintenance)

Here is a link to my most viewed post on CustomerThink featuring examples from each category.

#13. Creating Sales Lift

This is probably the most exciting takeaway. Giving a purple goldfish can increase your sales by 46%. A recent article in the International Journal of Marketing Studies has revealed that giving a gift before purchase could increase consumer spending by over 40%.

Final thoughts and an offer There is a tremendous cartoon by Hugh MacLoed about writing a book. It was inspired by some advice Seth Godin shared. “You don’t write books for the money… you write books to stake a claim on whatever ground you want to own.” I started this Project and wrote this book because I fundamentally believe that marketing needs to change. I would love for you to be part of this movement. Here is a link to a complimentary advanced reading copy of WYPG? on Scribd. Bookmark the link or better yet download the PDF of the book. Enjoy.

wypg scribd