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The Blue Nile Philosophy—Just Be 10% Better

This entry was originally posted on May 11, 2007 at the old Brandstory blog.

I have been a fan of Blue Nile ever since I received a booklet from them six or seven years ago. The booklet, really a direct mail piece, explained how to do different “guy” things like carve a turkey, mix a gimlet, and get a good table at a restaurant. It was well written and well illustrated. Sprinkled in with these other tid bits was advice about how to buy a diamond ring. It was brilliant. Probably the most engaging mailer I’ve ever received. One of my coworkers at the time must have agreed because it disappeared from my office a few weeks later.

Shifting gears (sort of)…

A recent (very short) article in Fortune magazine profiled Mark Vadon, the founder and CEO of Blue Nile and asked him about his management style. Mark notes:

“I’m obsessed with Starbucks. I was talking to one of its executives and asked him why they have grown so much when other people have tried and haven’t. And he said, ‘Well, there are 1000 little things that impact the customer where we’re 10% better than anybody else.’ I think that’s exactly what we’re trying to do: stay focused on all the tiny little details that matter to our customers.”

Is Blue Nile 100% better than Tiffany’s or Zales? Probably not. But by being a little more accessible, providing more information than their competitors (they do a great job educating customers on their site), and offering service that’s a little better, they have created a very successful company and brand. By focusing on getting the small things right, the company grows.

Side Note: Blue Nile has a very common brand story—Mark was frustrated by his experience buying a diamond at a retail store and thought, “there has got to be a better way.” Today there is.

Unfortunately you can’t find the Blue Nile story on their site (missed opportunity), but you can read more about the Blue Nile brand story here.

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