Top Personal and Professional Service stories from the Purple Goldfish Project


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Extra Service

The Purple Goldfish Project was an effort to crowd source 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe. Brands that give little unexpected extras (g.l.u.e) in order to drive differentiation, improve retention and promote word of mouth. This post is the ninth in a 12 part series looking at the top 200 examples from the Project by industry. Here’s a bunch of examples with a personal touch:

Personal / Professional Services

Mario’s Barber Shop (submitted by Jeff Mard) Free lolipop w/haircut (they have cool lollipops, not just regular ones)… does the trick for my 5 yr old every time.

plaza cleanersPlaza Cleaners in PDX (#123 submitted by Blue Young) “I think it counts, though it’s not so typical. They will clean someone’s suit for free if they’re unemployed and need the suit for a job interview. Look here…[Very cool and unique purple goldfish in a sea of dry cleaning sameness]

Fairfield Granite (#59 submitted by my Father in Law Fred Wills) “I recently had my countertops changed at my condo in Shelton, CT. My contractor Fairfield Granite did a great job of installing the granite countertops. They were meticulous with the measurements and did a flawless job with the installation. The bonus or lagniappe was that they presenting me with a granite cutting board that was mounted nicely with rubber cushions. It was totally unexpected and most appreciated. I’ve since told many other neighbors at the wonderful job done by Fairfield Granite and now two of them are in the process of contacting them about a replacement.”

Rod Oglesby Realty in Stockbridge, GA (Submitted by Don Dunlap) “Rod gives his customers a $500 DIY store (Lowe’s or Home Depot) gift card at closing. I thought it was really cool to use for those inevitable purchases you need when you move in. It was definately unexpected, and much appreciated. I’ve sold two homes with him and gotten a gift card each time. I would still use him if he didn’t do this, but it really separates him from his competitors in this market.”

sky lakes hospital six foot ruleSky Lakes Hospital (#187 From Marilyn Suttle at Who’s Your Gladys? blog) The Six Foot Rule, “Every employee, hospital-wide, is required to look up, make eye-contact, and say something pleasant when they pass within six feet of anyone – a patient, visitor, or even a fellow employee. This rule has changed the environment at Sky Lakes. The expectation was non-negotiable. People were held accountable. What happened? For some, the workplace got a whole lot friendlier and much more enjoyable.”

HUB (#324 by Donna Cutting) “John Wood, CEO of HUB Plumbing and Mechanical in Boston, MA realizes that people don’t want to open their front door to strangers, and so he sends an email to every customer with a photograph of the plumber who’ll be coming to their house.”

bwi airport fast parkBWI Airport Fast Park (#377 from Simple Complexity) “The Airport Fast Park at the Baltimore Washington International Airport is a little different than other “park-n-ride” airport shuttles. When you enter their lot, an attendant greets you and shows you the best row to park your car so you don’t have to search for an open space. The shuttle meets you at your parked car so there’s no waiting at a shelter. Then the bus driver helps you with your luggage, and if it’s raining meets you with an umbrella. While on the bus, the friendly driver actually talks to you, and on your way back the shuttle takes you directly to your car, with a complimentary bottle of water. Who knew bus rides could be enjoyable?”

nurse next doorNurse Next Door (#438 from the book ‘Customer Love’) “Humble Pie. When this Canadian home health care service provider stumbles . . . they deliver a fresh baked apple pie and a note apologizing for poor customer service. Each year they spend about $1,500 on pies, but they estimate it saves about $100,000 in business going elsewhere. That sounds like pretty strong ROI as 65% of customers that take their business elsewhere do so because of poor customer service.”

New Horizons Computers (#499 taken from Jeff Hayzlett’s book,The Mirror Test)
“I needed a way to add a little more value to the experience and make a lasting impression on customers. I settled on presenting every person who “graduated” from our training programs with a fun diploma and picture of their group in front of our company sign as a keepsake. Later I added a few other items like free chili dogs on Fridays.”

T-Mobile (#563) “Kids phones are free on the family plan”

black and white cookieHamilton College (#588 submitted by Mike at Hamilton College)”After prospective students and their parents take a tour of the college they are given a coupon for a free black and white cookie (the black and white cookie was invented in Utica). The coupon is redeemable in downtown Utica. It’s a nice ‘thank you’ plus it gives a nice incentive for folks to visit the quaint and picturesque downtown”

UCLA (#635): Taken from a post by Joseph Michelli showcasing Dr. Yeh
“When I started here, I structured things so that we would be accessible—there would be no phone trees; there would be human beings. I answered my own phone for the first year; you always got a person when you called.” Dr. Yeh distinguishes between a surgeon and a technician by the degree to which the surgeon advocates on behalf of the patient. According to Dr. Yeh, “To advocate for patients you have to take the time to know them and put systems in place to help them receive care. Inevitably there will be tests that have to be done, further tests, and coordination. If you have a patient that comes from Abu Dhabi, that patient will likely be provided some help, but if you have an elderly woman from central California, how are we going to help her get around?” To make the process less daunting to patients, Dr. Yeh created a “help desk” resource. A phone line was created to help patients with any problem they encountered. Dr. Yeh notes, “If you are a patient of ours, we will coordinate all your appointments on the same day so you won’t have to travel as often. If you get lost, you can call our number and we’ll guide you around this huge campus. What I realized early on was there were a lot of system problems that were too big for me to tackle as a junior professor. My goal, however, was to create a little bubble around my micro-culture so that things could work within our program the way I thought they ought to work.”

Hangers Cleaners of Kansas City #830 in the Project is taken from a Cool Runnings video by Sprint. Free pickup + delivery, convenience, consistency, eco-friendly with liquid CO2 and a genius use of bar codes.

image brew purple goldfishImage Brew #941. Submitted by Lauren Sujkowski this story via Twitter:
Like that @ImageBrew stays on brand and gives clients their own beer. Better than a business card. [See full Image Brew post with video]

Prime Genesis #968. Submitted via e-mail by George Bradt of Prime Genesis: “We’re trying to do our own lagniappe with our app. When we complete a new job prep session to help someone create a 100-day action plan as part of a full assignment, we now ask the client if they have an iPad. If they do, we help them download our New Leader Smart Tools app. Pretty straightforward. The fun part comes if they do not have an iPad. In that case, I reach into my briefcase and pull out a brand new iPad, pre-loaded with the app, and give it to them. They don’t expect it. It’s immediately relevant. Not unique, but definitely rare. Authentic in that it’s completely in line with our whole concept of accelerating things to deliver better results faster.”
[Editors Note: George and his partners are pioneers in a concept called onboarding. His team works with new C-Level Executives to establish and implement 100 day action plans. He has been able to reduce the attrition rate of new executives from 40% to 10% and accomplish in 100 days what normally takes 6 to 12 months]

UPIC Solutions #993. Submitted via e-mail by Winston Faircloth from:

Hi Stan,

We first connected last year when I heard about your project on a marketing podcast. Since then, I’ve taken your concepts to heart within my own organization.

Our non profit IT organization provides application hosting, PC support and database management services to United Way organizations across the US. We have tried to find that little extra we could provide our members and several months ago we found it. We added an unlimited Microsoft Office online training subscription for every staff member at every United Way we support as our little extra when UW purchases our help desk package.

Thanks for your work and the inspiration it brings to us.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a look the client thank you gift from Image Brew:

Image Brew 2011 from Image Brew on Vimeo.

What's Your Purple Goldfish? BookYour experience is now your marketing. How do you stand out in the sea of sameness? How do you win repeat customers and influence word of mouth? Is your CX sticky? Are you Giving Little Unexpected Extras?

What’s Your GLUE? What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

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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