In marketing, actions speak louder than words. What’s your frugal wow?


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The majority of this post was posted on Switch & Shift, where I have the privilege of being part of the League of Extraordinary Thinkers:

Marketing is Changing

surrender dorothy madison avenue
We’re not in Kansas any more

Sorry Dorothy, your brand is no longer what you say it is. It’s now what your customers say it is. Companies can no longer hide behind big marketing campaigns. Words and marketing speak by Madison Avenue can no longer mask mediocre products. Today’s customer is an educated and empowered consumer. And your competition is now only a click, tap or swipe away.

What’s a Brand to do?

Forget about chasing and catering to the prospect. I believe the answer lies within taking care of customers first. Aim for increasing satisfaction and creating positive word of mouth. Turning your loyal customers into your best marketing asset.

Loyalty can be a competitive differentiator

fred reichheld ultimate question

The industry standard to gauge loyalty is called the Net Promoter Score or better known as NPS. The score was created by Fred Reichheld, a Senior Fellow at Bain & Co. The New York Times credits Fred for putting the concept on the map, but The Economist goes one step further to ordain him as the “High Priest” of Loyalty.

What Reichheld found with his research is that its nearly impossible to grow a profitable business without the loyalty of your customers. It has been shown that loyalty leaders grow 2.6 times as fast as their competitors.

The NPS system consists of exactly one question or in the words of Reichheld’s book on the subject, “The Ultimate Question.” It is presented to the customer in the form of the following, “On a 0 to 10 scale (10 being the highest) how likely would you be to recommend _______ to a colleague or a friend?” The single score comes from taking the percentage 10?s and 9?s (promoters) and subtracting them from the percentage of 6?s and below (detractors). The 7?s and 8?s are considered passives and therefore are not counted.

how to calculate nps

How Can You Improve Your Score?

I recently has a chance to hear Fred Reichheld speak at the 2012 Compete Through Service Symposium hosted by ASU’s Center for Services Leadership. Reichheld spent a great deal of time talking about the concept of a “frugal wow.” A frugal wow is an inexpensive way of making the customer feel valued. For example, at Chick-fil-A that includes a warm welcome, needs that are anticipated, active service recovery, and providing remarkable experiences (here is a post that contains a Top 10 list from Chick-fil-A.)

I caught up with Fred after his talk. We discussed the concept of the Purple Goldfish and the idea of giving little unexpected extras (g.l.u.e.) I also asked why he spent the majority of his talk on “frugal wow.” Reichheld stated that is was because of its ability to influence NPS. The message was clear. NPS is a barometer, but companies need to invest into the experience.

The need for innovation and Trojan Mice

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but few are willing to pay the price. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to customer experience. I believe brands need to start taking small steps to add value to the experience. Rome wan’t built in a day. Here is a great analysis by Peter Fryar on the concept of trojanmice:

“Much change is of the ‘Trojan horse’ variety. The planned changes are presented at a grand event (the Trojan Horse) amid much loud music, bright lights and dry ice. More often than not, however, a few weeks later the organization will have settled back into its usual ways and rejected much of the change. This is usually because the change was too great to be properly understood and owned by the workforce. Trojanmice, on the other hand, are small, well focused changes, which are introduced on an ongoing basis in an inconspicuous way. They are small enough to be understood and owned by all concerned but their effects can be far-reaching. Collectively a few trojanmice will change more than one Trojan horse ever could.”

Admittedly, Peter is talking more about the employee experience. But the same logic can be applied to innovating in customer experience. I believe little things can truly make a difference. They become beacons along the journey from being an “also ran” to becoming a “loyalty leader.” Maybe the ultimate question is really,

What are your Frugal Wows?”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Not only should we be asking What? But we should also be asking Why? A new friend Sharon E. Reed recommended I watch the following Ted talk by Simon Sinek. Powerful stuff. I dare you to only watch it once:

This video forced me to think about the WHY of 9 INCH MARKETING? Here is my current thinking:

WHY? I believe marketing needs to change. For too long marketing has been about chasing the prospect and bowing to quarterly results. It needs to start first with the employee and then focus squarely on the customer. Brands need to adopt a surplus mindset of giving. Marketing needs to be less about the eyes /ears and more about doing the little extras on the journey to the heart.

HOW? Writing and speaking to evangelize the need for change and celebrate those who are winning via marketing g.l.u.e (giving little unexpected extras)

WHAT? Books, Keynotes, Webinars, Seminars, Workshop, Strategy Sessions, Consulting

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.


  1. Identifying what is important to the customer, listening to the customer, providing immediate solution to the customers concern, are just a few ways on how we value our customers in our contact center. I myself encourage our agents to go out a little from the script to empathize and hear their customers concern. It’s not enough now to just provide resolution to your customers. You must hear them out.


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