Author | Consultant | Keynote Speaker

FACT: The average distance between the stem of the brain and the top of the heart is nine inches.

In 2012, I founded 9 INCH on the belief that “differentiation via added value” can be a game changing strategy. My aim is to shift the marketing paradigm. For far too long, the overwhelming majority of marketing has fixated on the eyes and ears of the prospect. Not enough has been focused on creating experiences that drive referrals by reaching the heart of your customers and employees. 9 INCH  helps brands become remarkable, standing out in a way that people can’t help but talk about.


Businesses think that the best way to grow sales is to find new customers. Actually, the best way to grow sales is to increase the lifetime value of existing customers.

Happy existing customers benefit your business in at least three ways:

  1. They buy more from you.
  2. They buy more frequently from you.
  3. They tell their friends to buy from you.

How do you make existing customers happier? You realize that, from the customers’ standpoint, there’s no such thing as “meeting expectations.” Your only two options are to deliver less than they’d like, or more than they’d like. Choose “more.”

The Goldfish Rule for Customers and EmployeesThe way to accomplish “more” is through added-value. The Goldfish Rule, which is based on a time-tested loyalty strategy, works by giving customers unexpected extras. Those extras improve the brand, drive loyalty, and promote referrals.

Referrals are key. Referred customers are four times more valuable than customers acquired by other means. Why? A referred customer spends twice the amount of money and refers twice the number of customers than non-referred customers do.

The Goldfish Rule — and the strategy of giving existing customers more than they expected — isn’t new. Leading companies, such as Apple, Doubletree, Enterprise, L.L. Bean, Southwest, Starbucks, and Zappos have leveraged such gift-economy principles for years to create customers for life.

The Goldfish Rule also applies to employees. When organizations give employees little unexpected extras, those extras drive engagement and reinforce the desired culture. Employees are happier, more productive, stay longer, and are excited to spread word to friends (who may themselves become employees).

Bottom line:

Stop spending dollars on chasing prospects. Instead, focus on giving customers and employees more than expected. Giving more builds loyalty to your brand, which translates into increased sales, word of mouth, engagement, and productivity.

Stan Phelps is an “experience architect”, author and popular keynote speaker. He believes that brands must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan works with clients to create programs, keynotes, and workshops that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become talkable by design. The result: programs that win BIG.

Contact Stan at stan[at] or call +1.919.360.4702