A month of lagniappe.

Have you experienced lagniappe? Growing up my grandmother used the term often, usually when surprising me with a peppermint candy on the way home. In New Orleans it means “a little something special”, like the 13th donut that makes a baker’s dozen. I grew up with the concept of lagniappe, but just recently I realized it has become part of my DNA — a lens of generosity in how I interact with the world.

In my professional life, I’ve come to think of lagniappe as a heightened vision of hospitality, one that goes beyond the baseline of customer service. Building Artsicle, we tried to surprise and delight whenever possible with a little lagniappe in every package shipped — a handwritten note, a hook to hang the art or a recommended hanging height to make the customer’s day a bit easier. At times this meant staying on the phone with a technology-impaired artist well beyond his question about the site, taking the time to diagnose a larger computer problem or walk him through a confusing browser update. These things weren’t our core business or our “day job”, but I believe they are what made our customers loyal. At Artsicle, that loyalty led to word-of-mouth, helping us to grow in ways our marketing budget could never afford. In a world where 89% of companies believe they are competing purely on service, a Gartner report got it right: “customer experience is the new battlefield for differentiation.” Just delivering on expectations — that means you’re replaceable.

Today I’m launching an experiment to test my theory that generosity generates success, in life and in work. I’m declaring September my month of lagniappe. My favorite definition of generosity is to be liberal in giving or sharing. For the next month, I’ll be looking for opportunities to give something extra for nothing, and talking to those who make this practice part of their businesses’ DNA. This is a first test, so I’m leaving the definition wide open to include anything I have to give — business advice, an extra set of hands with your kids, a book recommendation, a bad joke — you tell me what you need. Am I afraid of being taken advantage of? Of giving away work that I should be charging for? Absolutely. But for one month I’m setting aside those fears and focusing on my curiosity. Could generosity be the future of marketing?

If there is something I can offer you help with or if you have thoughts on how generosity impacts your business, send me a note.

Not sure what to ask for? Here are some examples of how I can help.