January 5, 2013
Every once and a while, you come across a book that changes things for you. In some instances, the book will just have a single thought that simply influences the way that you see certain situations. Other times, you are lucky enough to come across a book that is littered with concepts that have the potential to improve the quality of your life in all aspects (business and personal). I was lucky enough to start 2013 on the right foot by reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh and it immediately inspired me to write an entry on their unique culture and “Wow” philosophy. There is no question that both areas have the potential to significantly enhance marketing efforts if implemented the right way. It is my hope that this entry will encourage readers to model these behaviors so they can build an extraordinary brand that truly impresses consumers. So, with that being said, let’s get to work!
The Zappos’ Pursuit to “Wowing” Consumers
In many instances, organizations and programs invest in marketing solely to realize the benefits that they are seeking. They have little concern for the true value that they add to consumers and this is a major mistake because their approach eventually comes across as inauthentic to the people they are attempting to attract. In essence, they miss out on truly realizing their full potential in marketing because they lack the ability to put consumers first. In the case of Zappos, they have become a premier organization because they have made it their absolute highest priority to make an extraordinary impression on consumers. In fact, they often sacrifice immediate financial gains to go out of their way to impress their consumers. For example, they will often add overnight shipping free of charge to their orders without telling the customer just to make an impression on them. They constantly try to “Go Above and Beyond” expectations to add value to people and as a result they have cultivated loyal fans who are passionate about helping to build the Zappos brand. This loyalty and word of mouth approach is a primary reason why they were able to move to $1 billion in sales in less than 10 years of existence. Zappos has focused on the process of making their culture unique and because of this benefits have been realized far beyond their expectations.
Congruency of Zappos’ Core Values
At the center of the Zappos’ approach is a set of values that are meaningful to the entire organization. In the book, Hsieh explains that the reason for this is because they have invested in creating a culture at Zappos that is unique. Rather than just going through the motions, the senior staff has strived to create values that are tailored specifically for the organization. In addition to striving for a unique structure, they have gone out of their way to involve their entire organization in the strategic planning process. As a result, they have not only come up with 10 core values that are unique (see graphic below), they have also engaged their staff members and encouraged buy-in at different levels of Zappos. It is this approach that has led to consistency in their culture because their employees are invested in modeling their values in an extraordinary manner. This is truly what makes Zappos unique.
Added Value “Wow” Elements
What makes Zappos so special is that they are always striving to be different in a unique manner. While the book is filled with a variety of differentiated concepts, there were a few that WERE really cool and could be highly beneficial to any organization and/or program looking to enhance their branding efforts.
1. The Zappos Library: To encourage employee development, the organization created a library of leadership books to help grow their employees. In addition, they have sessions employees can attend where their senior leaders discuss the key concepts in the book. By investing in this development, they have strengthened the organization at all levels.
2. The Zappos Culture Book: As a way to improve their culture, Zappos created a culture book that includes employee contributions about what they feel the organization is all about. In addition to empowering employees, this has helped Zappos to evolve their values as the company grows.
3. Read the book…There are so many concepts that can enhance leadership and marketing efforts. It will definitely be worth your time! Thanks for reading!
At the center of Zappos’ success is their core philosophy. They have become a premier organization because people are at the center of all of their efforts. This starts with their employees. Zappos has prided themselves on hiring the right people and then treating them extremely well. Naturally, this is a strategy that filters over to the service side of things because they are treating their employees the way they want them to treat the customer. And as a result, they have a brand that builds extraordinary loyalty with people who interact with their employees and product. This could never happen if they did not place such a high emphasis on making a difference in people’s lives.
I view my role more as trying to set up an environment where the personalities, creativity and individuality of all the different employees come out and can shine (Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh)