What’s your marketing lagniappe?

Shutterstock_42375907 My blogging buddy Stan Phelps has always preached the word of having a "marketing lagniappe."  He wrote about it in a guest post back in April and now he's decided to write a book on the topic.

In short, lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is a creole word, originating in Louisiana and literally translated means 'the gift.''  It refers to a small unexpected extra gift or benefit presented by a store owner to a customer at the time of purchase. The people of Louisiana have embraced the term and have broadened the definition to include any time a little something extra is given.

Stan's point is that every company should have some lagniappe in their culture, brand and marketing efforts. 

Here's the recipe for creating a marketing lagniappe:

Here are the four main ingredients:

  1. Unexpected – the extra benefit or gift should be a surprise.  It is something thrown in for good measure.  Think 'surprise and delight'.
  2. Relevant – the item or benefit should be of value to the recipient.  Make sure that the item or service is a true benefit.  It shouldn't be a one size fits all proposition.
  3. Unique – if it's a small token or gift, try to select something that's rare, hard to find or unique to your business.  
  4. Authentic – many times it comes down to the gesture.  It becomes more about 'how' it is given, as opposed to 'what' is given. The small gift or extra communicates that you care about your client and you appreciate their patronage.

Let me give you a few examples from the McLellan Marketing Group culture:

Fresh baked cookies:  If you come to a meeting at MMG, you're going to be served warm (fresh from the oven) M&M cookies.  An added dash of double lagniappe — the M&Ms in the cookies are only the three colors (purple, green & orange) from the MMG logo. 

Who Loves Ya Baby Day?  For years, we've had an internal celebration for Valentine's Day called Who Loves Ya Baby Day (think Telly Savalas for those of you old enough to remember Kojak).  Now — we share that celebration with our MMG clients.  On Valentine's Day — each client receives a special Valentine's treat with a note from us — telling them how much we love them.  Yup — love them.  If we don't love them, we don't want to work with them.

Charity Adoption:  Every year, as an agency we put out an RFP (last year we have over 50 applicants) and adopt a charity for an entire year.  We ask some of our vendors to join us and in total, the charity will receive over $100,000 of marketing counsel, design, help and stuff. 

Marketing lagniappes can't be artificially manufactured.  They need to come from the heart (see #4 from the list above).  It's about actually wanting to go above and beyond.  It works because it's genuine. 

Stan is looking for some examples to put in his book.  And I'm betting that many of the Marketing Minute readers (that's you!) have either done or seen some great examples of marketing lagniappe.  

Check out this PPT presentation (be sure to watch the short video embedded in the middle as well) and then if you have some examples — reach out to Stan and share.

Why not tell the world what you're up to?  Or give someone else some props for their marketing lagniappe?  And as you've been reading this, if you've realized that you can't point to something that you're doing to give that "little gift" — I'm hoping that's making you feel a little uncomfortable. 

If you won't make your clients feel special and appreciated…someone else will.

Meanwhile…why not tell us here in the comments the best marketing lagniappe you've ever received?  I'd love to hear some!

P.S.  By the way…I think you can and should have some marketing lagniappe tricks up your sleeve for your employees as well.

Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

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14 comments on “What’s your marketing lagniappe?

  1. Stan Phelps says:

    Thanks Drew. I love your three examples and I look forward to hearing what your readers come up with.

    Here are a few examples / thought starters of marketing lagniappe:

    Southwest Airlines – Grab you bag . . it’s on. Southwest doesn’t charge for bags.

    TD Bank – TD Bank has a penny arcade in their lobby, a free service to all who want to exchange coins for dollars.

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries – Free peanuts while you wait and extra fries with your order (lots of them).

    Stew Leonard’s – At this Dairy Store when you buy $100 or more of groceries, the register MOO’s and you get a free ice cream or coffee.

    Doubletree Hotels – Complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie when you check-in.

    Just a reminder that this for a great cause. For each of the first 1001 examples of lagniappe I will donate a non-perishable food item to the Thomas Merton Center. The Merton Center is a soup kitchen in Bridgeport, CT that not only provides food, but other programs that help people move out of poverty to become self sufficient.

    Warmest regards,

  2. Paul Chaney says:

    Drew, I live in the land of lagniappe, but our company could take a lesson from MMG. Fresh baked cookies?! Oh my.

    We do try to do something unexpected for our clients each Christmas, something they would not expect of a tech company. There’s some lagniappe there for sure.

    Historically, we donate a Web site each year to a worthy charity. This year’s recipient was TexansCareForChildren.org.

  3. Paul Chaney says:

    Drew, speaking of Lagniappe, you do know your logo contains Mardi Gras colors, right? Purple, green and gold officially, but you’re real close! 🙂

  4. Hey Drew, as usual you inspire and lead from the front. I love it. Just by you being you, it brings out the best in me! Thank you 🙂 My Lagniappe … I always give something extra to my clients that compliments the service that I am providing them, and provides value to their customers. By way of example, for a recent web older-aged client, it was the creation of stationery and the printing of their business cards. It surprised them. In 2008 I adopted a guy in the USA who was a struggling land speed motorcycle racer … different huh? I supported, encouraged and motivated him. As his confidence grew so did his on track performance. As he continued I provided PR and promotional advice. He finished 2009 as the most successful racer holding several national records across several categories. I’m an honorary team member, and I met him through Facebook. We’ve never met face-to-face, but we’ve connected. In 2009, I adopted a start-up photographer. He had a vision, but his trajectory was wrong. We’ve worked through strategy, and brainstormed ideas. He’s developed an entirely new vision, strategy, and goals. He’s on his way. I’m so proud. He’s had personal issues to deal with, including being a former cancer patient. After his travels around the country are over, his published book will be sitting on my coffee table. I helped my mentor with a new business branding architecture and launch. He ASKED me … I felt so honoured. I’ve picked my 2010 Champion already. A guy in Tasmania who rescues birds of prey, rehabilitates them and sets them free again. How cool is this? I’m sure others will find me in 2010, they all have one thing in common – extra-ordinary passion for their craft. My own gifts I share with them made out of love and respect and are small compared to what I get in return. These are just examples of how I am to take some ordinary, add my “extra” to make it extra-ordinary! My lagniappe, as you say. Keep up the good work Drew. I need it.

  5. Stan,

    One element of lagniappe we haven’t talked about is that it’s fun to delight your customers. Your employees will get fired up about it. Even a jaded, tired business owner feels pretty good.

    It can be playful — all the better. Have you noticed that most lagniappe isn’t super serious? I wonder why that is?


  6. Paul,

    Sounds like your company has the lagniappe spirit! How do you choose your lucky charity every year?


  7. Paul,

    Hmm, I’ve never noticed that we’re Mardi Gras-like. But if you spent an afternoon or two with us — you’d see that it’s pretty accurate.

    Maybe we need to come down to your neck of the woods as a team building exercise?


  8. Laynie,

    It sounds like you’ve been bitten by the lagniappe bug in a big, bad way! I’m not surprised at all.

    From your perspective — what do you get out of it? Why do you do it? Why should someone else do it? I know it makes you feel good — but what’s in it for you, from a business perspective?


  9. Stan Phelps says:

    That’s a great point about being fun and playful. A ‘branded act of kindness’. I’ll definitely expand on that for the book. You hit the nail on the head in your post about being genuine. They say 80 to 90% of success is just showing up. That same percentage should apply to your marketing lagniappe and how it is applied.

  10. Drew:

    On the two occasions I stayed there, The Hotel Burnham in downtown Chicago left me a bottle of wine and then a bottle of root beer with a personal note from the manager. The root beer was the second gift, after I thanked them for the wine and told them that I’m not a wine drinker after the first visit!

    And Midwest Airlines has the chocolate chip cookie lagniappe down pat…sometimes, the aroma fills the airplane while you’re boarding.


  11. Mark,

    Great examples — as you know, the Burnham is my #1 choice in Chicago for the very reasons you listed. They make the mundane (staying in a hotel) something special.


  12. Love the ideas! This year, for the first time, we customized our clients’ Christmas (yes, I said “Christmas”)gifts. This was in part due to our lack of time (we usually order nice logo’d products), but also to support some of our own clients and local businesses. Depending on the number of employees, a client received a large poinsettia from a local greenhouse, handmade FAB chocolates from the Chocolate Manor(mailed those to our long-distance clients with rave reviews), tins of popcorn from Popcorn Charlie, homemade scones (my secret recipe!) and gourmet coffee for our long-time clients who used to frequent the coffeehouse we used to own, wine from an Iowa winery, or a case of good ol’d Bud.

    For the potential clients we’ve been pursuing, we sent out handmade cards that reflect our creativity. All were hand-addressed, hand-signed!

    Some of our employees did participate in the deliveries and had a great time “making their day”!

    I really like the idea of thanking clients in unexpected ways at other time of the year. When we land a new client, we usually try to find a way to thank them — Cookies by Design is always a good one.

    Thanks for sharing! Have a great 2010!

  13. Lori,

    Love the idea of using your clients products to celebrate and thank your other clients. Talk about a win/win for everyone.

    And who knows — you might have created new raving fans for your clients.

    And perhaps the best part — the hand delivery. You cannot substitute for that personal touch!


  14. And Midwest Airlines has the chocolate chip cookie lagniappe down pat…sometimes, the aroma fills the airplane while you’re boarding.

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