Recommended Reading: What’s Your Purple Goldfish? (Wait… What?)


Chris O'Brien, Marketing Communications WriterWhat's Your Purple Goldfish?How can companies differentiate themselves and earn a customer’s attention when that customer is exposed to more than 3,000 messages a day and most of their business is driven by word of mouth? Stan Phelps proposes what appears to be a simple, though game-changing idea in his book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish: How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth.

Phelps contends that businesses can earn that interest and retain existing customers by practicing lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap), a Louisianan concept of giving a little something extra to customers at the point of purchase. He quotes numerous examples throughout the book, but some of the most famous may be the free peanuts at Five Guys or Zappos’ free overnight shipping upgrades. By providing these “purple goldfish,” customers are more likely to tell others about their experience and become life-long customers.   

As Phelps says, “In business you either fall below expectations or you exceed them. There is no middle ground.”

These small touches can mean the difference between becoming a commodity or becoming a business that people want to talk (or tweet or write a Facebook post) about. For businesses that practice lagniappe, the purple goldfish are only a material indication of the absolute dedication the company has for creating the best experience for their customers.

Since it costs 10x more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, this dedication to customer satisfaction also makes for smart business. 

Phelps goes on to describe the 12 different types of purple goldfish that a company can offer, from providing added services to making wait times more bearable. He also gives the 5 rules for creating successful purple goldfish. Since I love a good acronym, those purple goldfish that follow the R.U.L.E.S. are:

  • Relevant
  • Unexpected
  • Limited
  • Expressive
  • Sticky

Learn more about purple goldfish and the businesses offering them by reading Phelps’ What’s Your Purple Goldfish. He also explains how he came up with the term “purple goldfish,” which I know you’ve been wondering about through this post.

Think about it: What are the “special extras” your company could offer its customers?  We’d love it hear your ideas in the comments below!

Chris O'Brien

2 thoughts on “Recommended Reading: What’s Your Purple Goldfish? (Wait… What?)

  1. Thanks Christine. Great post. We both share a love of acronyms:
    If anyone is looking for more info, here is a Slideshare outlining the book:
    “The longest and hardest nine inches in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer.”

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