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The Secret Sauce behind Zappos Word Of Mouth

NB: This article might be a bit long but, trust me, it can change your company...

We all heard about Zappos. This company has one of the best word of mouth of the planet. Let's look at the number:

No surprise they ended up with 1 billion dollars revenue per year with 75% repeated customers. To understand how can it be possible, I flew to Las Vegas at Zappos HQ to investigate. Here are the results of my inquiry.

"It's both awesome and easy".

The Library

The first thing that strikes me is the huge library at the entrance. Hundred of brand new business books from the smartest writers of our time: Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel H. Pink, and many more.

Library Zappos
  • Books are free for every visitors or employees
  • They are all about marketing, happiness and motivation and productivity
  • Since one of Zappos core value is "Do More With Less", usually employees exchange the books between them.

My point is that books are at the heart of their learning and decisions. The more I read them, the more I understand how Zappos strategy works.

Create a "Made To Stick" Story

I met Tony at Leweb 2009 and watch many of his conferences around the world. The story is always the same, you might think it's told very naturally but in fact this story is highly optimized (just like the slides that goes with it). Tony with his team has created what we call a "Made To Stick" story. It's a bit complex and I highly recommend to read the book but it's very powerful.

To summarize, a "Made To Stick" story starts with a very common situation, like buying pizza or going to the bakery and finish with a unexpected end. I'm sorry but I don't even think their story is the truth. He said he was selling pizza, then sold his company for 200 millions, then created Zappos. Why the pizza story is taking such a big place in all of his speech? Guess why? "Made To Stick".

The reason why so many people are able to write a full blog post about Zappos is obviously because they remember who they are.

Make Everyone VIP

I don't know if you ever called Zappos hotline or even registered to their newsletter. They have great customer experience strategists. What I mean here is that they would upgrade your account as soon as they can and very officially. And it's for everyone. If Amazon ships your package 24h early than scheduled you won't even know. However, if Zappos send you the same package 24h early you would get a huge card saying you've been upgraded. "I love Zappos" you would say right?

Same in all of their programs, give a try, call them at (800) 927-7671, be a bit bitchy and...Magic! They would upgrade you to a VIP account!

During my visit in their HQ, I got "a chance" to seat in the VIP seat. For the third time I was a VIP (I never spent a penny for Zappos).

Make people want to for work you

A dimension that lots of company are forgetting is how their hiring strategy can impact on their marketing. Zappos has not only created a great culture in its company but also some facts, easy to remember, that spread the world. Everyone wants to work in a nice environment so everyone is talking about it.

I guess you already know that you can get 2000$ if you decide to leave the company. Lots of companies have something similar, they just don't use it as a marketing tool.


Don't get me wrong. I love Zappos too. Almost everything you heard about this company is true. I saw their office and talked to many employees. It's exceptional. What I'm saying here is that all they do is highly optimized to increase word of mouth.

It makes sense since the marketing model has changed after Facebook and Twitter gave a huge power of communication to anyone.

Good luck.

See pictures of their office here.

You might also like:
For more (hopefully) interesting articles or to stay in touch you can follow @alextoul on Twitter
or Facebook and find me on http://about.me/alextoul.


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