This Brand Evangelism and How-To piece is an example of how to write a consistent review that is integrity and personal experience driven, and highlighted brand perks the average entrepreneurial consumer may be unaware of. Coupled with a relevant How-To piece that teaches entrepreneurs through the Zappos example, this is a form of Brand Story weaving, and illustrates how company culture itself can be a powerful convincer to a skeptical market. Include my fave gum in my package just because? Definitely, yes. And that’s how the market reacts to stories like this.
Word Count: 1284 Reading Time: 7 minutes
Talk Sexy To Me: Why Zappos Wins For Doing One Thing Really, Really Well
Want to hear a good one that involves great message, good product, nice people and sex? Because you know marketing is about sex, right? Sex and hot men doing the dishes, apparently. To the American woman, at least.
But really, it’s all about customer service. Excellent, no holds barred customer service.
I may be late to the party, but have just had my own personal Zappos epiphany. On the verge of a business event, I realized I needed nice new conference shoes. Lacking time to shop, off to Zappos I went.
The shopping experience is way beyond nice. To put a fine point on it, they revved my engines, gave me a hot oil rubdown, tons of freebies and left me begging for more. I’ll deconstruct that for you below, so you can use the same successful tactics with your tribe.
But my real buy-in is…
I’m the original Comfy Shoeist.
I will not wear shoes that are uncomfortable for any reason whatsoever. I have a strong, sexy yoga body, but with broken bones in my back and a broken ankle, you couldn’t pay me to wear heels. So, I’ve been on a never-ending quest for not only comfy but nice looking shoes.
To compound the problem…
I was allowed to run barefoot as a child and have wide feet, like many of us. It’s hard to find shoes in my size. Zappos has them in abundance. Even my long-coveted Sweet Grape flavored Keen Whisper.
And what’s more, Zappos videos every single shoe, having an employee model it, and tell you little known things like the shoe runs large or small, is sized for the Asian market or the European market, so adjust your size this way, and so on.
Bonus points for going the extra mile. Zappos is all about the extra mile.
Be like Zappos. Go the extra mile for your clients and customers.
I read a story where a customer frivolously asked for a pack of his favorite cinnamon gum, so a Zappos employee was deputized to get a pack, to include in his package.
Now that’s service. Real service, that should never have gone out of style.
I had to experience this for myself, so I called to find out something about a pair of shoes I was ordering, and asked if the package would get to me before I left for a conference.
Jake, my Zappo’s employee said “You’ll have it by Tuesday with overnight shipping” and promptly scurried off to find an answer to the question I had about the shoe.
Then he said the thing that’s making women nationwide catch their breath:
“I can actually make Overnight Shipping and returns free to you for life, by putting you in our VIP club. I’ll do that, okay?”
Oooo….talk sexy to me baby.
I was feeling light-headed, and beginning to understand the Zappos lure.
We love the sound of the words “free shipping and free returns”. You couldn’t offer any better gift to an on-budget modern woman unless it’s one of those beefcake calendars where the man is doing the dishes while giving you a foot massage.
But there was more.
I asked if there was any charge for the VIP Program and was told no, but it offered benefits to me as a customer, was by invitation only, and he was inviting me just because I picked up the phone to call.
“We like to talk to people voice to voice, and we like to do good folks favors.” he said.
Oh, he was good.
Now, this guy was undoubtedly handing out VIP memberships to everyone who called. But it was the way he deliberately and with great care made me feel special, and reinforced that I’d done the right thing by calling that sealed the deal.
Jake (we were on a first name basis by now) said several times how happy he was that I’d called in.He really sold it too, not one particle of cheesiness or script-following came through.
Without sounding scripted, Jake made me feel like I’d saved him from an interminably boring evening. To sweeten the pot, I was given a special VIP login with perks inside the portal which took it up another level.
Who loves ya, baby? Zappos does.
I’m probably the last one on the bandwagon. But I love, love, LOVED how I was treated – so much that I’ll be back, many times over. They’ve won a customer for life.
What I notice as a marketer though, is how little it took to gain such loyalty. Five minutes total of a very well-trained employee’s time. The VIP program in place.
The will to be a nice guy business in a cutthroat world.
Be like Jake. Be nice to your customers when you don’t have to, as a welcome surprise.
Let’s break it down further. First of all, Zappos gives free shipping both ways to everyone. They gave me the perk of overnight shipping free, which is a $25 savings I appreciated, needing to get my items within 48 hours.
Then they say that I can return items for up to a year.
A YEAR. And on their dime no less.
But it works, and from studying company loss strategies, I’ll just bet they have very few returns in the later months.
Last and most important of all, they tell me I can call 24 hours a day or choose to chat online if I prefer. Options for the Chatty Cathy and for the Socially Avoidant = Check. Covering all bases = Exceptionally Cool.
Dealing with Zappos was for a shoe store, close to a spa experience.
Hassle of returning items is one of the primary reasons more customers don’t buy shoes online. Zappo’s shortcut me past that worry in a twinkling, addressing a major pain point with ease and memorable generosity.
There’s a lesson to be learned here for marketers and business owners:
Whatever objections your customers raise, work out strategies to make them non-issues instantly. If there’s a problem, take on all the responsibility and bend over backward to accommodate them. That’s what keeps ’em coming back.
It got me looking at my own company.
I’m a cottage industry & vend non-physical products, but I was seeing plenty of things I could easily change and emulate from the Zappos playbook, to remove hassle from the customer equation.
I felt pampered. Like a fine-looking gentleman had just given me the “hey sexy mama” eye then shook his head, regretting we were on opposite sides of a train station. No matter how old you are, that still feels good.
I wonder now what I can do to make customers and clients of my products feel uniquely well cared for and highly regarded as Zappos does? My team will be looking into this and implementing more custom touches from our next team meeting.
Valuable Zappos Takeaways…
What about your business? What have you to share with your tribe that they aren’t getting elsewhere – not in terms of information or your ninja skills, but in terms of tender loving care as a customer?
Think about it. And do at least a test-shop at Zappos and call in to ask a question, to have a taste of their signature style demonstrated for you. Model your experience with Zappos Customer Service personnel, particularly if you had any trouble with the order. To expand your business and increase each of your customer’s lifetime value, ask yourself:
- How did Zappos handle your problems, questions or requests?
- What did they offer, and in what manner?
- What emotions were in play during this conversation?
- How safe did you feel doing business with Zappos?
- Most importantly, how did you feel at the end of the transaction?
The answers to all of these will help uncover what is Zappos providing, that you could be providing your ideal community members and customers. Take some time to brainstorm on this. Your customers will thank you with their loyalty, word of mouth referrals and return business.
* image of the Keen Whisper shoe in Grape courtesy of Zappos
About The Author: Maryam Webster is a veteran psychologist, marketer, published author and writer for social justice, healing and consciousness revolutionaries. She writes magnetic, high converting copy for articles, mythic bios and sales pages, key converter web pages and signature programs. Need targeted copy like this written for your business? Get in touch: