Two weeks ago Steve Scalise was an obscure member of the rank and file in Congress. Last week he made the successful ascent to the top three of the Republican leadership. The five-year representative from the First District in Louisiana won a first ballot election to become the House Whip.
How did he make the move? Scalise did it by personifying a term from his home state called lagniappe. Pronounced lan-yap, it’s the practice of doing the little extra. It’s that something extra that’s thrown in for good measure. A practice that Mark Twain was so enamored with that he called it, “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.” The creole word, according to Merriam-Webster, comes from the Spanish meaning “the gift” or Quechua for “something added.”
Scalise leveraged the power of the gift to help build his personal brand. Building support over his five years in Congress paid huge dividends. Here are three lessons marketers can learn about lagniappe from the new House Whip:
1. A signature extra – Scalise is known for his pralines. He has a basket in his office. Each praline is individually wrapped. It’s become his calling card. Similarly, Doubletree by Hilton has their own version of the praline. A large, warm cookie, individually wrapped and packed with chocolate chips. It epitomizes the signature extra and demonstrates a warm welcome. The practice of handing out cookies dates back to 1987. In the 1980′s, most hotels offered treats like chocolate chip cookies to VIP customers. Doubletree believed that every customer is a VIP and thus started handing them out to every customer. Fast forward to 2014, Doubletree by Hilton gives away roughly 60,000 per day across the world. Since starting the program, they’ve given away over 300 million cookies.
2. Follow-up – Scalise was known for always following up with a personalized note to colleagues. In some instances he would send flowers. The simple gesture of following up can make a big impression. Over the course of a year, Jack Mitchell of Mitchells wrote 1,793 handwritten thank you notes to his best customers. That’s five notes a day, every day. Mitchell wrote the book, Hug Your Customers. He believes these small touches provide an opportunity for a personal emotional connection. “It can be something as simple as a smile,” Mitchell said, “It’s about making a human connection.”
3. Consistency – This was a commitment, not a campaign. Scalise’s actions weren’t just a last minute effort to win the position. He committed to doing the little extras since being elected to Congress in 2008. Pundits attribute Scalise’s rise to his keen attention to detail. He started early and finished strong, making 100 calls on the last day before the vote.
What’s your signature added value? How are you consistently demonstrating that you care about your customers? Is your brand ready to rise through the ranks like Steve Scalise?