For those seeking brand religion, an unlikely shrine has emerged in the desert the past few years. It sits near the Las Vegas airport: the headquarters of online retailer Zappos.
Over the past few years, executives from dozens of companies, including Southwest Airlines and Best Buy, as well as ordinary customers, have made the trek to see its operations up-close. The tour has undeniable Zappos touches: each department has its own greeting, and in-house motivational guru Dr. Vik has visitors sit in a throne for a Polaroid snapshot.
Now the company hopes to turn the intense interest in its culture and approach to business into a moneymaker. This week, it plans to roll out Zappos Insights, a subscription video service that lets companies ask questions about the Zappos way and get answers from actual Zappos employees. It will charge $39.95 per month for subscriptions.
The service, said CEO Tony Hsieh, is targeted at the "Fortune 1 million" looking to build their businesses. "There are management consulting firms that charge really high rates," he said. "We wanted to come up with something that's accessible to almost any business."
Zappos' legendary commitment to customer service has made it a darling of the marketing intelligentsia. In nine years, it's grown to be on track to sell $1 billion of goods this year, expanding from shoes into apparel and even electronics.
Despite the feel-good vibe, Zappos is not immune to the current economic turbulence. Last month, Zappos cut 8 percent of its workforce.