It all started back in 2009. It was a summer evening and I was in New York City with a work colleague. Brad Bossow and I were at a trendy rooftop bar in midtown. One of those places where a bottle of beer is $15. We were waiting to meet a few people before heading over to a networking event.

This year was a pivotal one for me. I was turning 40 and I was getting introspective about work and my career. Earlier in the year, I’d created a blog called 9 INCH Marketing. Why 9 inches? Nine inches (23cm) is the average distance between the stem of your brain and the top of your heart. Given the goal of winning the hearts of your customers, I call that distance the longest and hardest nine inches in marketing. Each week I would write one or two posts exploring all facets of marketing. At the time marketing was changing rapidly. I was looking for something that could be a game-changer.

For background, I had been working for five years at Synergy. Synergy is an experiential marketing agency that created mobile tours, product launches, PR stunts, and sponsorship activations. It was the type of marketing focused on creating buzz and earned media. We’d do crazy insane activations. How crazy?

Let me share some examples:

I once helped create the World’s Largest Logo for KFC. We built it near Area 51 in Nevada. The program was called The Face from Space. The logo was so big you could see it from space. And I know that because we shot it with the Google satellite. The program created 650 million media impressions and won awards.

I erected a 70-foot tall M&M dressed as the Statue of Liberty and floated it on a barge into the New York harbor. Right in front of Lady Liberty herself. This program was to launch a new website where you could create an avatar of yourself as an M&M.

I also once put a 40-foot Viking Ship into Times Square. This program launched all of the exclusive branded merchandise for the movie How to Train Your Dragon at Walmart.

At that point, I thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous. But then I did the following program. I once gave away a Mediterranean Island for the brand I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER, with none other than, wait for it … Fabio.

These programs were successful and some even won awards. But this type of marketing wasn’t scalable or sustainable.

I knew that marketing was changing…But I didn’t know the way forward. Then I had an interaction at a rooftop bar that changed the direction of my life… [Read that story below]

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Stan Phelps

Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at