Give the People What They Want (and Then Some): The Magic of Overdelivering
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In a previous essay I wrote about the first crucial move for entrepreneurs and startup dreamers. Find your blank space and fulfill a need for your clients. Once you have established the focus of your organization, it is time to add magic to the client interaction . Every successful business fosters joy and wonder in customers, in small and large ways. Your company will be able to stand out from the rest by offering the smallest extras. This practice is known as lagniappe in New Orleanians. It’s pronounced “lan-yap” and has Quechua, Spanish, French and French roots. It’s the extra donut that makes it a baker’s dozen — that’s called lagniappe. That’s overdelivering.
Consider Hermes, the luxury design house that recently launched a cosmetics line — a smart move to attract young clients who may one day move up from lip balm to something a little pricier. The company has also added a lot of lagniappe in their new makeup products. For example, the lipstick cases are magnetic so you don’t have to worry about losing them or opening your purse to find the lipstick. Plus, they’re refillable, appealing to sustainability-minded Gen Z customers. Hermes packages nail polishes in a round orange hatbox that includes hand lotion, emery board, cuticle oil and base coat. This is to build client loyalty. These add-ons would not be available to Hermes customers. You bet. You bet.
Think about overdelivering as “entrepreneurial charmment”, a way to spark the curiosity of your clients and get them excited to engage with your brand. Screenwriters know how to make the next scene happen. The best storytellers know how to surprise viewers with plot twists and surprising revelations that keep them engaged until the end. Unexpected bonuses and add-ons can help you do the same.
Consider the example of Canadian airline, West Jet. A few years ago, they took on the role of Santa’s elves and played it for their customers. The company invited passengers to send Santa their wish lists via video and each one was surprised to find a gift that had been sent to them. All ages laughed and squealed with delight as they watched the gift slide down the conveyor belt. West Jet gained many loyal customers by delivering luggage and delivering holiday cheer.
Our little startup needed to stand out from the crowd when I founded SCAD over forty years ago. I thought of many extras that other universities didn’t offer, such as the quarter system (proven in student learning), no Friday class meetings (for tutoring and studio time), and field trips for all classes.
Over the years, as resources and enrollment grew, we extended extras to every facet of the university: a professional casting office, performance coaches who teach networking, a research studio where students partner with Fortune 100 companies before graduation, an investment arm for alumni startups. Prospective families don’t expect these resources to be required for an accredited university. They love SCAD because they are eager to see what the future holds.
You don’t have to pull a West Jet every single time. Olivia Cox, creative entrepreneur, places a little joke about dad in each of her handbags and hats. Even the simplest gestures communicate your commitment towards the fine art and overdelivering. As the legendary Maya Angelou once stated, “People will forget everything you said.” People will forget what your actions were. People will never forget how they felt. Positive glow is what entrepreneurs want. People appreciate thoughtful, elegant solutions, products, and inventions. Everyone longs for wonder, joy, surprise, delight, and wonder. Think about your audience. What are they looking for? What type of experience or service have they had with brands or businesses similar to yours? How can you confound and transcend their expectations? Infuse meaning into every situation. Make clients and guests feel welcomed. Make sure you take the time to make sure everything is perfect. And don’t forget to deliver. These extras will not soon be forgotten.
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