How would you change marketing? What’s Your Burning Question?

by Stan Phelps

in purple goldfish project

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A new contest challenges you and tempts you with an all expense paid trip to Cannes

burning question

Jim Stengel (former P&G Global Marketing Officer) and Bob Gilbreath + team at Bridge Worldwide want to know how you would change marketing for the better.  Last week they launched a contest called, “The Burning Question”.  Here is the challenge from

What question will spark a revolution?

Asking the right question can take us places we never thought possible. It can uncover truths. It can change an industry.

So, what question aren’t we asking ourselves as marketers? We have one in mind we’d like to share with you. We call it The Burning Question.

But first, we want to hear what you think. Share your burning question with Jim Stengel, Bob Gilbreath, and special guests. Join the revolution at their seminar at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June 2010.

Get Your Passport Ready

2 lucky winners get to present alongside Jim and Bob in Cannes.  Ooh la la.  Bon temps.  It took me about 7 seconds to decide to throw my chapeau into the ring.  I became the first entrant into the Burning Question Contest:

Here is my Answer:

Mark Twain called lagniappe . . . a word ‘worth traveling to New Orleans to get’

Lagniappe is the little unexpected extra thrown in by the merchant at the time of purchase and a concept that has the potential to fundamentally change marketing through a ‘customer first’ approach.  Dating back to 1840 it’s one of the original word of mouth and social media stimulants.

Traditional marketing is broken and for the most part ineffective.   Yet 90% of marketing budgets are still focused on prospective customers.  A marketing lagniappe or ‘purple goldfish’ (ode to Seth Godin) represents a paradigm shift in marketing.  It requires the brand to put the customer first by providing additional value in order to exceed expectations.  Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is a creole word meaning ‘the gift’, an unexpected benefit or added value that’s thrown in ‘for good measure’.  By ’surprising and delighting’ your customer you give them something to talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about.

Here are the 5 main ingredients or if you are acronym fan (like I am), the R.U.L.E.S:

Relevant – the item or benefit should be of value to the recipient.  Make sure that the item or service is a true benefit.  It shouldn’t be a one size fits all proposition.

Unexpected – the extra benefit or gift should be a surprise.  It is something thrown in for good measure.  Think ’surprise and delight’ or ‘branded act of kindness’.

Limited – if it’s a small token or gift, try to select something that’s rare, hard to find or unique to your business. Think ‘signature’.

Expression – many times it comes down to the gesture.  It becomes more about ‘how’ it is given, as opposed to ‘what’ is given. The small gift or extra is an expression and communicates that you care.

Sticky – is it watercooler material?  Is it memorable enough that the person will want to share their experience by telling a friend or three . . . thousand?

Is the Proof in the Pudding?

A theory is merely a theory if you don’t have concrete examples.  That’s why the Purple Goldfish Project was born in November 2009.  It was an effort to crowdsource 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe.

I gave everyone 5 examples / thought starters:

  • Southwest Airlines – Grab you bag . . it’s on.  Southwest doesn’t charge for bags
  • TD Bank – TD Bank has a penny arcade in their lobby, a free service for all to exchange coins
  • Five Guys Burgers – Free peanuts while you wait and extra fries with your order (lots of them)
  • Stew Leonard’s – Buy $100 or more of groceries and you get a free ice cream or coffee
  • Doubletree Hotels – Complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie when you check-in

I also felt like I needed to buiid in a little lagniappe into the Project.  For each of the first 1,001 examples of lagniappe I pledged to donate a non-perishable food item to the Thomas Merton Center.  The Merton Center is a soup kitchen in Bridgeport, CT that not only provides food, but other programs that help people move out of poverty to become self sufficient.

So far we’re at 320 examples from over 200 brands.  I recently brought over the first wave of 300 non perishables.

Where is the lagniappe in your marketing?

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Albany prom this Saturday :The Longtail Music Catalog
April 20, 2010 at 5:11 am

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meghann Craig April 20, 2010 at 11:53 am

Very interesting answer! Best of luck to you in the contest!

2 Stan Phelps April 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Merci Meghann. Your lips to God’s ears

[Note: I'm practicing my French for Cannes. In the words of comedian Steve Martin, "It's like the French have a different word for everything."]

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