The Fifth Ingredient of a Purple Goldfish (Sticky) – Chapter 11


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[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 11 and the last of the ingredients or R.U.L.E.S]

Sticking out in a Sea of Sameness?

The fifth of the r.u.l.e.s is ‘sticky’. You want something that sticks. A strong marketing lagniappe promotes ‘word of mouth’. Your purple goldfish needs to be memorable and talkable. Let’s looks at a few examples:

Dropping the Sticky Bomb

On January 2nd (officially the laziest day of the Year), ‘The Make It Great Guy’ Phil Gerbyshak dropped a bomb on me. A P-nut bomb to be exact. aj bombers p-nut bomberI asked him if he had any examples of marketing lagniappe and he immediately posted this gem from Milwaukee. Phil nominated AJ Bombers. In Phil’s words:

#152. One of my favorite Purple Goldfish is AJ Bombers (@ajbombers) in Milwaukee. Joe and his team consistently provide the Purple Goldfish by offering free peanuts…shot at you in metal WWII bombers. It’s way fun to get those from the bartenders. Making AJBombers even more fun is the fact he is on Twitter, recognizing customers and anyone who mentions the place, hosts Tweetups at Bombers, has guest bartenders where he donates shots folks can sell…with all proceeds going to the charity of the guest bartender’s choice. Full disclosure: I’ve been a guest bartender and raised money for my charity. Last but not least is everyone who wants one can get a Sharpie and put their Twitter handle anywhere they want at AJBombers, so when friends come in, they can look for your Twitter name and leave you a tweet…in real life.

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do now. I’m a huge ‘Five Guys’ fan because of the free peanuts. In fact – I put them in the Purple Goldfish Hall of Fame based on their peanuts and the handfuls of extra fries. AJ Bombers takes the P-nut to the next level! Move over ‘El Muchachos Cinco’ . . . you’ve got some company. Of the five main ingredients or R.U.L.E.S, Bombers scores huge on stickiness. At AJ Bombers, the bartenders literally send bombers to deliver the nuts. Joe e-mailed me and added a interesting wrinkle,

“By the way, not only do we offer free p-nuts to our guests while they are at the restaurant, they always get BONUS unexpected nuts with all togo orders. Their reactions are priceless, they love it.”

Here is a rundown of the Top 5 from AJ Bombers:

  1. P-nut Bomber – a signature way to deliver peanuts to the respective booths. One word – genius
  2. Oversize Beach Chairs – a couple larger than life beach chairs. You feel like a silly little kid while sitting (but isn’t that the point)
  3. Quad Cow – take on the quad cow at AJ Bombers. After you’ve swallowed the last bite of your four patty burger you can sign your name on the sacred cow that adorns the wall
  4. Sharpies – grab a marker and leave you name or Twitter handle on the wall. You are now part of AJ Bombers
  5. Streamlined menu – your menu is a narrow piece of paper that details the various burgers. Grab a pencil and start writing . . . choose wisely

25 years and a handful of Purple Goldfish . . . plus a real Purple Cow

Phil also shared another gem from Milwaukee. He nominated Pizza Shuttle as #221 in the Purple Goldfish Project:

pizza shuttle“I was just thinking about one of my favorite Milwaukee Purple Goldfish, Pizza Shuttle. From the original Andy Warhol “Purple Cow” in the dining area, to the fantastic hold messages (old ones are archived at ), to the old Pizza Shuttle trading cards they let people collect of their drivers, to the fact you get free pizza on your birthday, to the in-store photo booth perfect for taking pictures, it’s all fun. Couple that with late-night delivery of pizza AND frozen custard AND chicken AND burgers, fun, unique people who work there and you get an amazing place to eat and an experience for everyone. A few other wonderfully inventive things they do: The world’s largest pizza, available for dine-in only; An amazing program where they give back HUGE to the community they serve; Delivery to all the colleges, hotels, and universities in the area; Employing nearly 100 people in a town that can desperately use it.”

I find that businesses that tend to get the concept of marketing lagniappe usually have multiple purple goldfish. They understand that in order to stand out you need to differentiate by giving those ‘little unexpected extras’. Pizza Shuttle is no exception. Here is a summary of their Top 5:

  1. The Purple Cow (hat tip to Seth) – How many pizza places have a framed Andy Warhol on display? Genius interplay of pop culture and a homage to the dairy state of Wisconsin. Cheesy . . . YES and that’s the point.
  2. A Picture Booth – Take your experience home with you with a branded strip of black and white photos. Great memento for a date with your squeeze or a night out with your friends. A picture may be worth a thousand pizzas.
  3. The Largest Pie in Wisconsin – Be memorable by offering a $39.95 gut buster. According to this article by Josh McDonald it looks like they throw in the ice cream as an added lagniappe. Nice touch.
  4. FREE WiFi – This is becoming a no brainer as of late. But again – how many pizza places are offering you complimentary wireless access?
  5. Unique hold music – Imagine wanting to be put on hold??? Smart move when you have a robust delivery business. Create some fun messages so people can be entertained while they wait.

Promoting Word of Mouth using spare change

#672 in the Project is taken from a post by Ben Popkenfrom the blog, ‘The Consumerist’:

westin st. francis

“As a favor to guests, one hotel washes every coin it receives, just like it’s done since 1938.

The practice at the St. Francis hotel in San Francisco is said to have started when hotelier Dan London observed that some coins sullied a woman’s white gloves.

At the time, coins were used for everything from tips to payphones to taxicabs. Back then washing the coins were a full-time job. Now it’s only 10 hours a week, but the practice continues, passed down from one generation to the next.


The coins are first passed from the general cashier to the coin washer who dumps them into a silver burnisher.

“Along with the coins, the burnisher is filled with water, buckshot to knock the dirt off, and a healthy pour of 20 Mule Team Borax soap. After three hours of swishing the coins around, Holsen uses a metal ice scoop to pour the loot into a perforated roast pan that sifts out the buckshot. The wet coins are then spread out on a table beneath heat lamps. This is where once-rusted copper pennies turn into shimmering bronze coins. Quarters look like sparkling silver bits.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway – There are 5 r.u.l.e.s or ingredients when creating your own Purple Goldfish. The first is relevance. Do guests of the St. Francis really care that their coins are sparkly? Other than the germophobes . . . probably not. But this purple goldfish ranks extremely high on ‘sticky’.

How do you overtake a luxury brand with the heritage of Mercedes-Benz?

While preparing to launch an unknown brand with no heritage against established European brands such as BMW and Mercedes, Japanese automaker Lexus set out to build the perfect car and retail experience. Nothing less than a ‘relentess pursuit of perfection’ was the mandate when the brand was launched in 1989. 22 years later the brand is all grown up. It’s kicking ass and taking nameplates. One of ways that Lexus distinguishes itself is through its customer service and by doing the little ‘talkable’ extras. Ray Catena Lexus

Lexus treats each customer as they would a guest in their own home. It’s as simple as making sure the coffee is always fresh, the loaner car is always clean, or just giving a friendly smile and hello when passing a customer in the showroom. lexus purple goldfish project hall of fame

  1. FORE!!! When you drop your car off for service at Ray Catena Lexus of Monmouth, in Oakhurst, N.J., bring your golf clubs: You can practice your game at an indoor driving range and golf course simulator adjacent to the plush waiting lounge.
  2. Follow Up – Dedicated to make sure your experience was perfect. Ray Catena has one person whose sole job is to call people who have had warranty service to make sure everything went smoothly. According to an article at, “Customer surveys revealed that 99.2% of people who serviced their cars at the store would recommend it. That meant there were about a dozen less-than-perfect surveys out of 1,400. Those customers got personal letters and phone calls offering apologies.”
  3. Free Car Wash – A staple of the Lexus service is the free car wash with your service. I was talking with a co-worker yesterday who just happened to bring her car into Ray Catena for service. We started discussing their service and she started gushing about how they are so committed and that everything is always done just right. She mentioned the car wash. I talked about how the ‘free car wash’ is become expected, kind of like the bakers dozen. It’s loses a little bit of its specialness if everyone is doing it (Audi, BMW and VW have also been cited in the Project for the car wash). My colleague then mentioned that on a recent trip that the wait for her car to be washed was long. Lexus apologized and handed her a voucher for a car wash down the street. Another time Shelley mentioned that Lexus couldn’t wash her car in lieu of the constant rain. Instead they filled her gas tank on the house.

[Next Up is Chapter 12 – the beginning of Section 3 in the book. Section 3 covers the 12 different types of lagniappe]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – Here is an insightful interview with Joe Sorge of AJ Bombers:

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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