The extra mile PR strategy is simple yet powerful.
Every once in a while, an organisation goes the extra mile to keep its customers happy. And every time, the resulting goodwill manifests as good PR.
Going the extra mile can be a long-term PR strategy — if you can figure out how to do nice things that don’t scale.
“Do Things That Don’t Scale”
In his article “Do Things That Don’t Scale” from July 2013, Paul Graham emphasises the importance of doing unscalable tasks to grow startups. Contrary to popular belief, startups don’t simply take off or flop; founders must actively push them to succeed. 1Do Things that Don’t Scale. (n.d.). Do Things That Don’t Scale. http://paulgraham.com/ds.html
Graham highlights the necessity of recruiting users manually in the early stages, as waiting for users to come is not a viable strategy. He cites Stripe’s aggressive user acquisition as an example of effective manual recruitment.
Graham identifies two main reasons why founders resist manually recruiting users: a mix of shyness and laziness and the belief that small initial numbers cannot lead to significant growth. He argues that founders should not underestimate the power of compound growth and should measure their startup’s progress through weekly growth rates.
As an example of successful manual user recruitment, Graham cites Airbnb, who took “heroic measures” in their early days, going door-to-door to acquire new users and help existing ones improve their listings. Although growth eventually slows down, startups can transition from manual to less manual methods once they gain traction in the market.
Going “The Extra Mile” is Good PR, Too
If doing things that don’t scale is a good strategy for a startup, what about PR?
Here are a few well-known examples:
The Art of Creating “Zombie Loyalists”
In “Zombie Loyalists,” Peter Shankman argues that the key to building a successful business is to create a legion of loyal customers who are so passionate about your brand that they act as “zombie” advocates, spreading the word about your business to their friends, family, and social networks.
Despite challenges and competition, these loyal customers can help your business grow and thrive.
To create these “zombie loyalists,” Shankman recommends focusing on exceptional customer service, going above and beyond to ensure every customer has a positive experience with your brand. He provides real-world examples of companies that have succeeded through exceptional customer services, such as Zappos, Amazon, and Ritz-Carlton.
In addition to providing strategies for building “zombie loyalists,” Shankman also offers advice for engaging with customers on social media, handling negative feedback and criticism, and creating a customer service culture within your organisation.
Overall, “Zombie Loyalists” is a practical guide to building a business that thrives on the loyalty and passion of its customers.
A Contrarian Approach: ”Hug Your Haters”
In “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers,” Jay Baer provides a comprehensive guide on how businesses can turn negative feedback into an opportunity for growth and improvement.
Baer argues that companies should actively engage with them instead of ignoring or dismissing unhappy customers, addressing their concerns and learning from their feedback. By embracing complaints and “hugging” their critics, businesses can strengthen their relationships with customers and gain valuable insights that can drive positive change within the organisation.
Baer offers practical strategies for engaging dissatisfied customers across various channels, including social media, review websites, and customer support interactions. He emphasises the importance of timely, empathetic, and personalised responses, underscoring these factors’ role in diffusing negative situations and winning back customer trust.
Drawing on real-world examples, Baer demonstrates how businesses that adopt a customer-centric approach to handling complaints can enhance their reputation, improve customer loyalty, and ultimately drive long-term success.
A Few Extra Mile Activity Ideas
Going the extra mile and forging strong customer connections are essential in today’s competitive business landscape. Companies must go above and beyond to achieve this, offering exceptional services and experiences that spark word-of-mouth and build loyalty.
Here’s a list of creative PR activities that can help your organisation stand out, engage customers, and encourage them to share their positive experiences with others.
How good must these PR activities be? Well, so good that it sparks word-of-mouth. It sets the bar high, but those who figure it out will enjoy a great reputation.
Michelli, J. A. (2008). The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. McGraw-Hill Education.
Lewis, L. (2005). The Trader Joe’s Adventure: Turning a Unique Approach to Business into a Retail and Cultural Phenomenon. Kaplan Publishing.
Spector, R. (1995). The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America’s #1 Customer Service Company. Wiley.
Hsieh, T. (2010). Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Business Plus.
Chouinard, Y., & Stanley, V. (2012). The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years. Patagonia Books.
Tindell, K. (2014). Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives. Grand Central Publishing.
Shankman, P. (2015). Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. St. Martin’s Press.
Baer, J. (2016). Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. Portfolio/Penguin.
PR Resource: How To Write a 1‑Page Strategy
How to Write a 1‑Page Strategy
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
— Albert Einstein
My inspiration for writing “no-bullshit” strategies comes from the classic Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. The 1‑page strategy focuses on how to win.
Here’s how you can write a 1‑page strategy that fits one page — using the mythical battle between David and Goliath as an analogy:
2. Guiding Principle
3. Coherent Actions
If you write 1 – 2 clear sentences per bullet, your strategy should fit nicely on one page.
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PR Resource: More PR Strategies
Doctor Spin’s PR Strategies
“The underlying principles of strategy are enduring, regardless of technology or the pace of change.”
— Michael Porter
Make sure to explore a wide variety of PR strategies for every different type of situation and challenge:
Learn more: How to Create a PR Strategy That Actually Works
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