#1 of 12 different types of Purple Goldfish (Throw-In’s)-Chapter 12

by Stan Phelps

in LTV – lifetime value,purple goldfish project,value / maintenance matrix

[Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts as we work towards completing the manuscript for ‘What’s Your Purple Goldfish?’. Today is Chapter 12, the first of the 12 different types of Purple Goldfish]

A dozen ways to go the ‘extra mile’

There are a dozen different types of purple goldfish.  Half are based on ‘value’ and half are based on ‘maintenance’ according to the value / maintenance matrix:

vm matrix

Here are main elements of both:


  • What are tangible and intangible benefits that your service or product provides?  (Note: Price factors into value, but only as it relates to the level of benefits and how effective the product or service is)
  • What is the level of design, craftsmanship and service? How is the attention to detail?
  • Is the product or service fulfilling its brand promise?
  • Does the product or service go ‘above and beyond’ your expectations?


  • What was the buying experience like?
  • Do you enjoy working with the brand or service provider?
  • Do they make things turnkey or simple?
  • Are they responsive to problems / issues?
  • Do they demonstrate initiative and the ability to go above and beyond for customer satisfaction?

Bottom line and marketing takeaway:

You need to figure out where you land on the value / maintenance matrix.  When I say figure it out . . . it’s not your opinion as a brand that counts.  It’s customer perception that counts. A study by Bain & Company revealed that 80% of the 300+ companies surveyed believed they delivered a “superior experience”, but when customers were asked about their own perceptions they rated only 8% of those companies as truly delivering a superior experience.  Not only is it important to see where you fall, but to see where you land relative to your competition. Strive to get into the ‘target zone’ of high value / low maintenance with your customers and profitability will follow.

The next six chapters in the book will cover the types of purple goldfish associated with ‘VALUE’:

#1. Throw-ins – little unexpected extras that are included with your product or service.

#2. In the Bag / Out of the Box – little unexpected things that are added as a surprise.

#3. Sampling – give your customer an ‘additional’ taste by offering a free unexpected ’something extra’ on the house.

#4. First & Last Impressions – you have two chances to make an impression.  When your customer comes through the door and right before they walk out, hang up or log off.

#5. Guarantees – giving your customers that ‘little extra’ pledge that you’ll stand behind your product or service.

#6. Pay it Forward – give a ‘little unexpected extra’ back to the community.

The lowest hanging fruit in marketing lagniappe is added value.  Let’s look at some examples that ‘throw-in’ little extras to add value:

Spotlight: Zane’s Cycles

chris-zane-portraitThe etymology of Lagniappe stems from the Quechan ‘yapay’ which means ‘to give more’.  Zane’s lives by this mantra, leveraging customer service as differentiator.  A 30+ year veteran of the retail bicycle industry, Chris Zane has built Zane’s Cycles of Branford, CT into one of the largest bicycle stores in the nation by giving customers more than they expect. More importantly they then stand behind the sale by giving more service than others seem reasonable (especially competitors).

bowlA Bowlful of Quarters

Zane’s is willing to spend $100 to service a customer.  To illustrate the point Chris uses the metaphor of a bowlful of 400 quarters.  During presentations he walks around with a bowl and encourages members of the audience to take quarters.   Most take a few quarters, but no one ever takes the whole bowl.  According to Chris:

“The point is that when you as a customer are presented with more than what seems reasonable, like a bowl of 400 quarters, you will self-regulate….By providing more service than what folks consider reasonable we can build trust and loyalty and remind them how hard we’re working on their behalf.”

Here are a dozen compelling ways that Zane’s offers ‘little extras’ to maximize lifetime value:

  1. Lifetime Service Guarantee – all parts and service are covered for life. Translation = buy your bike from Zane’s and tune-ups are free.
  2. Flat Tire Insurance – pay a minimal one time fee at purchase and Zane’s will fix your flats (tubes and labor) for life.
  3. Free Trade-In Program for Kids – buy a bike for your child at Zane’s.  When they outgrow it, simply bring it back to trade-up.  Zane’s gives you a credit for the price of the former bike towards a new one.
  4. Gift Certificates in Water Bottles – Buy a gift certificate and Zane’s will throw in a complimentary branded water bottle that holds the certificate.
  5. The One Dollar Rule – Zane’s doesn’t charge for any parts that cost them one dollar or less.  Need a master link for your chain, its on the house.  In fact they typically will throw in an extra master link for lagniappe.
  6. 90 Day Price Guarantee – find your bike cheaper somewhere else, they will match the difference plus an additional 10%. No forms to fill out and no credit card processing, Zane’s hands over cash to keep it simple.
  7. Giving Back – Zane’s gives back to the community whether its a helmut purchasing program for inner city kids, sponsoring local teams or creating a college scholarship program.
  8. Coffee Bar – Zane’s has a nice espresso bar in the store encouraging customers to sit down, relax and enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee.
  9. Set of Small Tools –  Zane’s provides a complimentary toolkit when shipping bikes to premium recipients.
  10. Webcam – Zane’s has a camera in the repair shop which gives customers the ability to Skype the team.
  11. Personal Notes – each person who buys a bike receives a handwritten ‘thank you’ note
  12. Test Rides – Want to test a bike at Zane’s? You’re free to take it out for a ride.  No credit card or drivers license required.  Each year they lose a handful of bikes, but the small cost is insignificant compared to the trust gained and hassle avoided.

Here is another Baker’s Dozen of companies that stand out by ‘throwing-in’ little extras:

You are FREE to change your travel plans

southwest change fees#670 in the Purple Goldfish Project come from Southwest Airlines. Southwest stands for ‘freedom’ in air travel.  Following up on the successful ‘Bags Fly Free’ program, Southwest introduces the next chapter in eliminating fees:

‘No charge for change fees at Southwest. Saving customers upwards of $150′

At Southwest fees are a four letter word, a very bad four letter word.  Here is a rundown of how they treat fees:

  • No 1st or 2nd Checked Bag Fees
  • No Change Fees
  • No Fuel Surcharges
  • No Snack Fees
  • No Aisle or Window Seat Fees
  • No Curbside Checkin Fees
  • No Phone Reservation Fees

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Fees don’t fly at Southwest.  Sometimes marketing lagniappe is not about what you give, but rather what you decide not to charge for.

Channel your inner Robin Hood… give it a shot in Lana’i

four seasons lana'i#730 in the Project comes via the Four Seasons

A bow and arrow aren’t just tools for William Tell. At Four Seasons Resort Lana’i (@fslanai) in Hawaii, you are invited to try your hand at archery or clay shooting for a chance to win the prestigious crystal pineapple.

Here’s part of a review from Trip Advisor:

“My son and I enjoyed going to the shooting range and taking a lesson with the air rifle, followed by target practice and each of us winning of crystal pineapple for our accuracy during the shooting contest. The instructor, Reno, was very friendly and made the experience memorable for us.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Fantastic experience with a signature limited little extra.  A very purple goldfish indeed.

A JellyBean and Huge Scoops

wilson's ice creamWilsons slides into the Purple Goldfish Project at #333 courtesy of Jody Padar:

“At my favorite ice cream store in Door County Wisconsin. They put a jelly bean at the bottom of the ice cream cone. So it doesn’t drip. They also give the biggest scoop ever. It’s tradition. The girls who scoop the ice cream live upstairs. There is never a night in the summer where the line is short and everyone happily stands on the porch waiting. They were featured on the Travel Channel. And were sold for a few million dollars a few years ago. Not bad for a ice cream store.”

Caledonia doles out the chowder

caledoniaMyrtle Beach may be mecca if you are a fan of playing golf.  Take your pick of roughly 125 courses with a 25 mile radius.

With so many choices… how do you stand out in the ’sea of sameness’ as a local golf course?

Enter Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island, SC.  Built in 1995 Caledonia has earned a top billing.  Jeff Day submitted them as #575 in the Project.

In Jeff’s words,

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club offers a cup of chowder at the turn, which is cooked and served right in front of you on the tenth tee – it’s a unique experience.  In addition, on Thursdays the course hosts a collegial public fish fry on the grounds for players to relax, eat and mingle, sharing glowing reviews of their day.

Moe’s Southwest Grill in New York City likes to salsa

moe's purple goldfishThis purple goldfish was submitted to the Project by Jordan Stark.  Great catch:

“I thought of you the other day when I grabbed lunch a Moe’s Southwest Grill and was pleased to find that with any of the meals you order you are given free tortilla chips and then can pick from 4 or 5 different types of salsa. This may not sound like much but over Chipotle, the most comparable quick-food mexican restaurant, that would cost you $2.50. Who doesn’t love some free chips and salsa with their meal??”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra) – At Moe’s their music literally falls on dead ears.  Listen closely to the tunes they play and you’ll notice one thing all of the artists have in common.  They’ve all gone to the big concert hall in the sky.

Changi Airport gives a little extra on the slide

singapore changi airport slide#508 in the Project is taken from a post by Colin Shaw of Beyond Philosophy:

“Sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones.

Inside Singapore’s Changi Airport there is a four-story slide. What on earth is a slide doing in an airport? Simple – it’s putting a bit of fun back into the customer experience. Spend 30SGD within the airport, and in return you get two slide tokens. This is a great way of rewarding customers who would most likely be shopping within the airport anyway, and thus turning an automated and boring time spent waiting around, into a surprising, rewarding and entertaining experience.

Isn’t this a bit exclusive I hear you ask? What if you don’t want to pay for that over-priced cup of coffee? Well, there’s the smaller but free one-and-a-half story slide for the more frugal airport customers.”

A little something extra from ‘The Vegas’

stripsteak las vegas#658 in the Project is taken from a restaurant review in the Las Vegas Review Journal:

“If you’re even slightly tuned-in, you’re no doubt aware that Michael Mina is widely regarded for his skills as a chef, most notably with fish and seafood.

But you may not know that he absolutely rocks french fries and onion rings.

No lie, french fries and onion rings, two of the standouts of our recent dinner at Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay. The skillful preparation of them proved why these two simple things — often deservedly scorned — have solid footholds in the culinary landscape [great video on NBC Today Show featuring Michael Mina and the prep of the fries].

The french fries were a lagniappe, served shortly after we ordered our wine. Fried in duck fat, they had an extreme crispness that sharpened the contrast to their fluffy interiors. They were served as a trio (a favorite Mina conceit) with one portion dusted with smoked paprika and served with barbecue sauce, one served with aioli, the other with homemade ketchup. Servers at Stripsteak point out that entrees are served a la carte, but with a lagniappe as generous as this, that point is easy to argue.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Create your own signature element.  Here Michael Mina utilizes french fries prepared in duck fat.  He goes further to create 3 varieties with 3 custom sauces.  C’est magnifique!

Specially made socks keep the feet warm

nailsplus little silverOn the heels of a cold Connecticut winter, we offer a little something extra to keep your feet warm.  #686 in the Purple Goldfish Project was submitted in an e-mail by Keith Green:

“Donna just got back from NailsPlus in Little Silver (it’s a chain
apparently) where they give customers a free pair of these socks with a purchase of a toenail painting. They are specially-made socks that go over flip flops, perfect for women getting their nails done in cold weather climates. There’s a Rex Ryan joke in here somewhere…”

A sweet handspun extra is on the menu

lolita cocina and tequila bar boston#701 in the Project was submitted via e-mail by Matt Sheehan of ‘The Good Men Project‘:

In Matt’s words:

“How are things with you? I see that the Purple Goldfish Project is moving along swimmingly (horrible joke, I know).

Anyways, I was out to dinner in the Back Bay last week and I had a head on collision with a piece of marketing lagniappe. Lolita, a hot new Mexican restaurant and tequila bar on Dartmouth and Boylston, gives free cotton candy with your bill at the end of the meal. They also give you a complimentary grapefruit- and tequila- flavored shaved ice palette cleanser when you first arrive at your table.

The original Lolita is in Greenwich, so maybe you can take the Misses for your next date night and see what it’s all about! “

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Make your little extra memorable, fun and sweet.  Cotton candy hits on all 3.

Made from scratch and goodness

jim n nicksIn the name of good eats, Jim ‘n Nicks rises to #700 in the Purple Goldfish Project from a tweet by @curbsidenick:

“@biteandbooze @fairelescourses – @jimnnicksbbq is serious #bbq. and the unlimited cheddar corn bread is amazing. love some good #lagniappe”

In case you’re hungry, here is the recipe courtesy of a post over at knoxnews.com:

Jim n’ Nicks cheese biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup milk ( 2% works best)
  • 1 eggs, beaten well
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into greased muffin pan and bake at 400 for 15 – 20 minutes. This recipe makes about 12 muffins.

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: Jim ‘n Nick’s take pride in the fact that everything is made from scratch.  What better way to drive that signature fact home than by giving away unlimited cheddar biscuits.  Mmmm mmm good.

Benefits for both customers and prospects

goodhands roadside#674 in the Project comes from a new program by Allstate.

Here is the thumbnail of the program straight from the good hands folks:

Good Hands℠ Roadside Assistance is the first free-to-join, pay-per-use, roadside assistance service that is available to all drivers, not just Allstate customers. Allstate created Good Hands Roadside to offer protection to the 35 million American households that don’t have roadside assistance services. The company also wants to provide an alternative for the 52 million households with roadside assistance that pay annual fees. Studies show the average driver uses their service only once every three years.

“With the launch of Good Hands Roadside, Allstate continues to broaden the definition of protection with new products and services consumers want in the ways they want them,” said Chuck Paul, group vice president, Emerging Businesses, for Allstate. “This is just another option individuals can use to protect what matters most.”

Allstate suggests taking two minutes to pre-register before road “Mayhem” strikes at www.goodhandsroadside.com to improve response time.

3 Marketing Lagniappe Takeaways:

1. Build value into your lagniappe and keep it relevant.  Roadside Assist is a nice compliment to the positioning of Allstate and their ‘good hands’ promise of protection.

2. Make it easy to understand and join.  The value proposition is straightforward: No fees, a reliable service and pay a low price only when you use it.

3. Benefit your customers, but open it up to prospects if possible.  This is a great way to establish a relationship with future customers.  One of my favorite examples of this is the TD Bank ‘Penny Arcade’ which allows anyone to exchange their coins with no fees.

A free pizza and make it snappy

alligator lounge bogoMy friend Matt Sheehan recommends the Alligator Lounge in Brooklyn.  A place where the pizza is always on the house as #205 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Here is a snippet from the NY Magazine’s Karen Hudes on the Lounge:

Inside what was once the Galleria pizza place, this bar’s turquoise walls, pink flamingoes and Romanesque details don’t quite gel, yet one crucial feature remains intact: the arched, wood-burning oven. Because of the owners’ sensational idea of serving free personal pizzas every night until 3:30 a.m., this unremarkable joint has turned into a loveable hangout that’s a great first or last barhop stop. Young and old Williamsburg folk congregate along the bar, in the maroon, open-angle vinyl booths, and around the green pool table. A booming jukebox and Big Buck Hunter Pro game in back provide entertainment. A selection of 10 draft beers complements the delicious crisp-crust pies, which are on the house with every drink; toppings like pepperoni, caramelized onions and flavorful sweet sausage are available for an extra $2.

Here is a review of the place from a customer:

“I don’t want the place to get so crowded that I can’t get in. This is a fantastic place, with Widmer Hefeweizen on tap, and of course… free pizza. I didn’t know about the pizza when I wandered in mid-week. When the bartender told me about it, I pictured pizza pockets… but it’s wonderful wood oven thin crust pizza. You pay 2 bucks for your first topping and 1 buck for after that. I had mine loaded, so it set me back a whole 5 bucks. The same pizza in Manhattan would have set me back 15 bucks. Would I be back? I’m thinking of getting an apartment above the place!”

A very nice school of flying purple goldfish

jetblue promise#579 in the Project flies in courtesy of JetBlue

Jet Blue builds value into their flight offerings.  They know the little things can make the biggest impact.  They understand it takes more than the proverbial half a can of soda.

Let’s look at each differentiator:

  • Full can of soda and unlimited brand name snacks. What’s with the cup of ice with some soda in it by other airlines?  You wouldn’t put up with that treatment on the ground.  Good point.
  • First bag free. Southwest has done an amazing job of promoting that ‘Bags Fly Free’, but JetBlue is singing from the same prayer sheet.  Saving customers either $25 or $50 per round trip is an added value.
  • 36 channels that allow you to watch . . . when you want to watch them.  JetBlue gives you the two things that traditional air travel takes away: CHOICE and CONTROL.
  • The most legroom in coach.  Being 6′2″ I can tell you this is key.  Nothing more annoying than the person in front of you reclining into your kneecaps.
  • Direct flights. Avoiding layovers is key.  It saves time, hassle and annoyance.

One more flying Purple Goldfish for good measure

klm delft blue house#773 in the Project was submitted via e-mail by Gene Willis:

“KLM gives Delft Blue Houses to customers who fly business class”

Here is a little additional background on the history of the houses courtesy of Theo Kiewiet:

The KLM houses are presents to travelers a board KLM flights in Business and Royal Class. They have been presented over a long period and thus have become collector items. There are currently over 90 different types which are each individually numbered in order of release.

There is Dutch Genever, 35% alcohol, in the houses, which are in fact bottles with a cork and seal on top. Sometimes the genever has been drunk but mostly the empty bottles were empty all along. On flights to some countries with strict alcohol restrictions empty houses are presented. On some of the houses a sticker explains this by referring to customs regulations. Sometimes there is a cork and seal and sometimes there isn’t (and never was) on the empty bottles.

KLM started issuing these miniature bottles in 1952. Airlines were not allowed to give presents to their customers because of unfair competition. So, KLM had some Blue Delft houses made, and filled them with genever (gin). Then, of course, their competitors complained “KLM ís giving presents to their customers”. KLM said “May we decide how we serve our drinks? Is their a law which tells me drinks have to be served in a glass?”… and so it all started. KLM was founded in 1919. In 1993 there were 60 different houses issued. In 1994, when KLM celebrated it’s 75 anniversary, they issued a total of 15 miniatures, bringing the total to 75 so that the number of houses would be the same as the age of KLM, in fact house #75 is the former KLM head office.

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: One of ingredients of a purple goldfish is the idea of limited.  Give something that is unique and signature.  KLM nails this with the Delft Blue Houses.  The Gin inside is just a little added lagniappe.

[Next Up is Chapter 13. ‘Its In The Bag’ – the second of 12 different types of purple goldfish]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – JetBlue builds value into their flight offerings.  They know the little things can make the biggest impact.  They understand it takes more than the proverbial half a can of soda.

Here is a handful of humorous videos showing how they differentiate themselves from the competition:

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