13 – The Year of the Baker’s Dozen or Little Extra


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Happy New Year

It’s New Year’s Day. The first day of 2013. When I think of 13, I immediately think of bad luck or the Baker’s Dozen. Given my choices, I’m focusing on the 13th bagel or little something extra for the next year.

But in order to truly understand a baker’s dozen, we need to travel back to its origin in England 800+ years ago:

baker's dozenIt dates back to the 13th century during the reign of Henry III. During this time there was a perceived need for regulations controlling quality, pricing and checking weights to avoid fraudulent activity. The Assize (Statute) of Bread and Ale was instituted to regulate the price, weight and quality of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in towns, villages and hamlets.

Bakers who were found to have shortchanged customers could be liable for severe punishment such as losing a hand with an axe. To guard against the punishment, the baker would give 13 for the price of 12, to be certain of not being known as a cheat.

The statute deals with weight and not the quantity. The merchants created the ‘baker’s dozen’ to change perception. They understood that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen.

The irony of the Baker’s Dozen is that its not based in given a little extra for the customer. It was about insurance and covering one’s backside for fear of losing a hand.

A Conscious Choice

I advocate that business should purposely goes above and beyond to provide a little something extra. Differentiation by design. A marketing investment back into your employees and customers. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure to achieve differentiation, drive retention, reinforce culture and promote word of mouth.

Therefore I’m officially abandoning the Chinese calendar (Year of the Snake) and declaring it,

“The Year of the Goldfish”

2013 Year of the Goldfish

Here are my plans for 2013: The Year of the Goldfish

Purple Goldfish: Continue to promote the book, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?” and spread the word about the importance of creating signature added value for customers. I will continue to do keynotes, will introduce half day and full workshops and offer consulting services under the banner of 9 INCH marketing.

Green Goldfish: Finish the Green Goldfish Project. The little signature extras for employees. I’m currently at 807 examples with a targeted completion by the Ides of March. The second book in the trilogy, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on Friday, March 29th.

Golden Goldfish: Kick off the Golden Golden Goldfish Project. The extras you provide for the Top 20% of both employees and customers. The concept is based on the Pareto Principle and the fact that 80% of profitability can be typically attributed to 20% of your customers. Similarly, 80% of the value created by a business is generated by 20% of employees.

I’m looking forward to a big year exploring the extra mile.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – 2013 if the first year in the last 25 whereby no digits are repeated in the year. You have to go back to 1987 for the last occurrence.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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