Published on: September 13, 2011by Michael Sansolo
We are having a special occasion in the Sansolo house this week: My wife has a pair of sneakers about to celebrate their first birthday. Now you are probably thinking these must be one special pair of sneakers or the Sansolos have fallen to a state of boredom in which footwear purchases become an event. Happily, you’d be wrong in both cases.
The sneakers are special because she bought them from Zappos.com exactly a year ago. Zappos, masters of marketing that they are, sent us an e-mail reminder of the event noting that my wife can order the exact same pair in the same color and size right now. Just like that, Zappos had a conversation with us that no marketer has ever done before.
Now, Zappos specializes in what it calls the “Wow!” moment, doing things like rushing orders so that customers like my wife go to their gym flush with the tale of how quickly shoes arrived from the website. The beauty of these “Wow!” moments is we customers appreciate them and willingly change our relationship with a company.
Apparently even a traditional brick and mortar retailer can get into that game and thanks to Bed, Bath & Beyond, we have a model that every retailer (and manufacturer) had better check out really quickly. Because what Bed, Bath & Beyond is doing is about building relationships in a way that could pay dividends for years or decades to come.
B, B & B (let’s shorten that name) is one of my least favorite places to shop. There’s something about endless alcoves of towels, placemats or whatever that drives me into naptime. But there are times that incredible array of products is exactly what you need and no one needs that assortment and price level more than young people starting out in their first apartment. B, B & B understands that and has done something spectacular.
On B, B & B’s website is a tab called “college insider,” detailing a challenge that many college students and recent graduates face: furnishing a first apartment. Go click on the site and prepare to be amazed because it is a marvel of relationship building.
Ordinarily you’d expect a site like this to do nothing more than sell products, but this site isn’t ordinary. The first sections featured are about apartment hunting and how to deal with landlords and leases. (There’s even a breakout on whether you are living alone or with a roommate.) The language is simple and easy to follow; the tips are straightforward and sensible. In short, it’s a website that a first-time apartment dweller would use again and again. Just like that B, B&B starts building the relationship without mentioning a single product!
There are tips on how to pack, how to budget, decorate and even how to throw your first party. (Shockingly, it isn’t buy a pizza, a bag of chips and a six-pack. I needed this guide years ago.)
Of course the site also plays right into B, B &B’s market. There are checklists for items an apartment must have—most of which you can find at the store—but there are also lists for key food products and tools that you buy elsewhere. In fact, every supermarket operator should be looking at how to link up with B, B& B. (Hopefully, it will lead to supermarket sites listing the essential foods, spices, non-foods etc. you need for a first home.)
The bottom line is that this entire site is something a new apartment dweller will keep bookmarked to make loads of correct decisions as they fill in their first living space and whatever comes after. This is a site people will likely share with friends and family as a must have, a must use and a must keep. It’s a site that will make Bed, Bath & Beyond a trusted friend for today, tomorrow and beyond.
In other words, that is a “Wow!” moment and the start of a beautiful friendship.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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