“Live in the Now.”
Signed Tony on the inside flap of my copy of his new book after his on-stage conversation at the CM Summit, the ultimate marketing and technology conference put on by John Battelle and his team at Federated Media (plus an additional producer, yup, me).
An inspiring and fairly quick read, Tony shares his personal story of entrepreneurship that led up to the growth and dominance of Zappos.com, a company known for its fun and weird (in a good way) corporate culture, and amazing customer service.
Zappos learned early that one can’t honestly sell what one doesn’t honestly love –
Let your employees take risks and try new things. Some will work and some won’t and that is okay. Let your employees bring all of themselves to their job. You may have an amazingly talented software engineer who is also a rockin’ musician – let him or her find an outlet for this passion at work too.
Tony modeled the ethos of Zappos by the teachings of the rave movement: PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect). A tribal-sorta guy, he brought the love of self to the love of the job, and that’s what kept Zappos afloat (and profitable) during the 2008 recession.
There are many parts of the book written by actual employees that exemplify their ability to think outside the box, an important lesson Tony preaches. But the passages below are great illustrations of how Zappos as a business sets its strategy – looking at long-term customer engagement as a constantly moving ROI target better achieved through emotional connections.
Too many companies think of their call centers as an expense to minimize. We believe that it’s a huge untapped opportunity for most companies, not only because it can result in word-of-mouth marketing, but because of its potential to increase the lifetime value of the customer…
A lot of people may think it’s strange that an Internet company is so focused on the telephone, when only about 5 percent of our sales happen through the telephone. In fact, most of our phone calls don’t event result in sales. But what we’ve found is that on average, every customer contacts us at least once sometime during his or her lifetime, and we just need to make sure that we use that opportunity to create a lasting memory.
If this era of marketing-meets-social-media has taught us anything, it’s that people like connecting with people, and personalization and relevant experiences are at the heart of any true WOM campaign. With Zappos, what you see is what you get, 100% embraced and uncut.
As with any great company story, Zappos’ success can be attributed to good timing paired with many serendipitous actions of opportunity. But at the heart of their story is a strong commitment to transparency, community, and a balanced attitude.
“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Carlos Casteneda
Tony and his team made lemonade from lemons at every turn. So beyond the book’s theme of turning profits by pursuing your passion to find a purpose… to achieve success, is the moral that delivering happiness starts by first finding happiness. The real journey begins thereafter.