Note: I will be giving away two copies of this book (see end of review for details)
One Sentence Summary: Outstanding customer service can replace the need for a marketing budget because your customers can spread the word for you (as long as the message you’re sending is a good one).
Background Info: Delivering Happiness is written by Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos.com which was acquired for just over $1 billion dollars by Amazon.com in 2009. Prior to that Tony co founded and sold the company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 Million in 1999.
The book covers his early life growing up along with some of his entrepreneurial ventures many of which were pretty amusing (earth worm seller). He also discussed his decision to leave his high paying job at Oracle just 5 months after graduating from Harvard because he wanted to be in control of his own destiny and build his own company (awesome). The first company he co founded was LinkExchange and he explained that as the company grew beyond the small group of 15 employees and they had hired as many friends and friends of friends as possible that the culture started to become an environment he wasn’t excited working in anymore. In fact, he was given a 20% earn out on the condition that he stayed with Microsoft for 12 months after the sale was completed (which would give him an additional 8 million dollars) but he opted to quit instead. This was just one of many examples where he illustrated that material possessions don’t matter much to him and that it’s more about creating and building something he enjoys doing everyday.
The stories he shares throughout the book are excellent. I really loved the section where he discussed his passion for Poker and how it’s related to the business world. These two stuck ideas out to me the most:
Evaluating Market Opportunities: Table Selection is the most important decision you can make.
Strategy: Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of your table is doing.
When they started on Zappos back in 1999 5% of shoe sales were already done through catalog and the business was seeing annual sales of $50 billion a year. This would be a great market to get into and by striving to be the best at customer service it was a great way to differentiate themselves from the other competitors.
The later stages of the book cover the mistakes and challenges in growing Zappos and the constant struggle to keep afloat. I was very surprised to see that over the course of it’s early growth Tony had literally risked all of the money he had and even going so far as selling his loft unit for 40% under what he payed for it. I love the fact that he was so passionate about the business to know it was worth risking everything for it.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and suggest you pick it up as there are numerous lessons worth learning for aspiring entrepreneurs. The later half of the book is almost like a huge PR fest for Zappos which I got a little tired of, but he showed how because they took such a different approach to customer service than their competitors that it resulted in them not needing to spend money on a traditional marketing budget. The book was just released Monday, but I received a couple advance copies which I read while I was on the plane coming back from Hawaii.
Free Book Giveaway:
I got an advance copy of the book to review along with another to give away. But because I almost never re read books I’ll be giving away both copies. All you need to do is follow me on Twitter and/or sign up for my newsletter to double your chances. You’ll already get a few bonuses for signing up for the newsletter including my top 10 ways to make money online and 3 free WordPress themes. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll also receive sage advice from me in 140 character form (lol). I’ll be giving away one copy to someone randomly on Twitter and another in the Newsletter. Both winners will be contacted via their respective channels in 5 days so sign up below and follow me now for great additional content and the chance to win a free book.
Upcoming: I have a wrap up post of the SMX Advanced conference here in Seattle that will go up on Friday and I have a couple interesting ideas to share on email marketing later next week.