December 26, 2010

Karma – Good Things Come to Those Who Are Positive Towards Others


In the past we have discussed the principles of karma.  Karma means that for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first.

Furthermore, the second event will be pleasant or unpleasant depending on those aspects of the first.  In other words, if the first event is positive, so will the second one be.  If the first one is not positive, so will the second one be.

Put in common business talk, this means that if you do something nice for someone, someone will do something nice for you.  The return act may not be an act of the person you helped, but it may be an act of someone totally disconnected from either you or the person that you helped.

In other words, if you do something nice for someone else, you will receive something good in return.  On the flip side, if you fail to act in a positive manner, you will not receive a positive return act.  Your negative acts will result in negative acts received by you.

From “out of the blue” something happens to you that is very good, making you feel so good, validating your actions toward others.  Maybe someone invites you to a new networking group, maybe someone refers new business to you, maybe you get an invitation to lunch; it can be anything.

Perhaps these things that come to you, good or bad, are the result of your marketing towards others; perhaps these things that come to you are the result of singular, spontaneous acts that you perform towards others.  It does not matter if these actions by you are part of your grand plan or just your normal way of operation; they all result in return acts towards you.

Do these resulting actions come from the people that you directly impact?  I repeat, not necessarily so; they can come in round about trails of varying lengths.  You may or may not receive these actions from the people that you directly impacted.  We have discussed often that the resulting actions may come from those that you “touch” directly or may come “out of the blue” from someone not even close to involvement.

As we move through this holiday season, let us all look for opportunities to engage in better behavior towards others, not because it may result in something good for us in return, but because it is the right thing to do.  In addition, it will make you feel better, in your mind and in your heart.  But do not confine this behavior to the holiday season.  Let it be your standard mode of operation, toward everyone, at anytime.

I always look forward to your calls or emails with your thoughts.  Have a great year end and get off to a positive, safe, and great start in the coming year.  If you ever want to chat about anything, email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or even better, call me at 360-314-8691.  I answer my phone, and return voice and emails.

December 19, 2010

Time – It Has a Role in Appreciation Marketing


Time, we have too much of it at times, but often we do not have enough.  What we do with time makes us who we are and what others think of us.

Some time ago, I met someone at a networking event who wanted to meet me for a chat so we could get to know each other better.  Since that is always my intent when I meet someone interesting, we set a time and place for the meeting.

Because I value the time of others I try to always be on time or early so that I do not appear unprofessional.  On the date for our meeting, I was sitting at the appointed place well ahead of the meeting time.

My meeting partner did not show up on time, and when she was 15 minutes late, I called her cell number, leaving her a message on her voice mail, asking if I had the time or location correct.  I was working on my laptop when she arrived 20 minutes after our appointment time, not apologizing for her tardiness.

During the next 25 minutes she answered her cell phone no less than 5 times, talking several minutes on each call.  Then she announced that she needed to leave as she had another appointment that she needed to keep.

I asked her why she had wanted to meet with me, and she informed me that she wanted to find out more about my business and about me.  I asked her if she had learned anything, and she then left for her next appointment.

What did I learn from this situation?  I learned that this person did not value my time, that she did not have control of her own time, and that she did not see any need to improve.  In short, was she someone with whom I wanted to establish a business relationship, or was she someone to whom I wanted to refer anyone from my business network?

Time is valuable to everyone; it is valuable to you, to me, to our customers, to our prospects, and to everyone that we may meet.  While you may never discover all the other people who someone else may know, you can learn how they value the time of others.

Appreciate the time of your customers and prospects.  Be on time for appointments; realize that they may have other meetings on their appointment calendars; stay on schedule.  Your customers and prospects will appreciate your appreciation for them, and they will reward you for your efforts.  Treat them like you want to be treated.

If you are going to be late for an appointment, call the other person, explaining your tardiness, giving them the option to wait or reschedule.  Don’t leave your phone on during meetings; let all calls go to voice mail and return calls after your meeting.  Don’t let the other person be aware that anyone is calling and do not hint that you would like to answer it.

Stay on schedule even if it means that your meeting will be shortened; don’t expect that the other person will allow you to take the time that you would normally have taken if you had started on time.  Be respectful of their time and offer to meet them again at a place and time of their choosing.  Be on time the next time.

Of course, you should send a thank you for all meetings.  If you were late, include an apology for your tardiness, even if they accepted your apology at the meeting.  Be sincere and make them understand that being tardy is not your normal operating mode.

If you value the time of your networking partners, they will value knowing you.  If you value the time of prospective partners they will want to be included in your network.  The better your network, the better your business future will be.

Please read “Appreciation Marketing” written by Tommy Wyatt and Curtis Lewsey.  I believe that you will find it as informative as I have.  Also, please leave me your comments and questions.  If you would like to meet and chat about any concept of Appreciation Marketing, call me at 360-314-8691, or send me an email at Jim@SOC4Now.com with your thoughts.

December 12, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness/Referrals – Together as Appreciation Marketing?

Previously, we discussed random acts of kindness and the role they play in Appreciation Marketing.  Last week, we also discussed the art of referrals and their role.

Can these two facets of Appreciation Marketing go together and show that you appreciate others?  Yes, these two can definitely exist together and can show that you appreciate others and what they do.

I regularly attend networking events where there are anywhere from 10 – 100 attendees.  I have met most of the regular attendees at these events and several of them for coffee chats outside the event.

I have received several compliments from people with whom I have met as to my professionalism, my passion for networking and helping others, as well as my personable attitude and drive for superb customer service.  More than once recently, I was pleased to hear someone, in public, praise my drive for networking with others and for my business specifically.

Do you have any idea how much these types of compliments make me feel?  Some of these people are my customers, and some are not.  Some of them are people of whom I am a customer, and some are not.  It does not matter who compliments you, the fact that they do, and sometimes publicly, is what matters.

Not only do you hear the compliment, and feel good as a result, but when others hear the public compliment, they will want to know more.  The compliment establishes you as a person who is well known, maybe as an expert on a subject, or perhaps as someone with whom others want to identify.

Maybe compliments will bring you more business; maybe they will only bring you more publicity.  Either way, you will benefit.  Either way, thank that person and try to return the compliment with another act of kindness, either for them or someone else.  After all, karma is what we all practice, isn’t it?

As a believer in Appreciation Marketing, you should actively look for opportunities to pass compliments to others, especially so that other event attendees can hear them.  If you believe that someone else has helped you, don’t wait for the facilitator of the event to ask for testimonials.  Give them freely without prompting.

If you are not in a position to pass on a testimonial, but you appreciate someone else’s support, advice, or kindness, pass on a compliment.  Give it directly to the person at the time you receive the assistance.  In addition, pass on a testimonial in public, where others can hear your words and realize that the recipient of the compliment may be someone with whom they should be acquainted.

There is another result of passing compliments or testimonials in public.  You, as the person who compliments others, will be come well known, and also known as someone who appreciates the efforts of others.  Better yet, you become someone with whom others may want to be associated.  Isn’t that one of the results of networking that we desire?

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  If you would like to meet and chat about any concept of Appreciation Marketing, call me at 360-314-8691, or send me an email at Jim@SOC4Now.com with your thoughts.  Also, I appreciate your support and interest.

December 5, 2010

Referrals - The Two Way Street of Appreciation Marketing

Quick, what is a proper referral in business?  Is it when you tell person A about person B who needs what person A has to sell?  Is it when you give to person B one of Person A’s business cards?  Is it when you tell person A that you heard of a business with which they might be able to do business?

Well, you are wrong, wrong, and wrong, on all three answers.  A proper referral is when you tell person B about person A’s business, and then give person B all the contact information for person A.  Then you tell person A all about why you think person B would be interested in person A’s business and give person A all the contact information for person B.  You also tell each of them that you want to know what happens with the referral, and you follow up if you do not hear back.

If you hear back from A and B that they have contacted each other and have met to discuss their offerings and needs, you should ask for the result of the meeting.  If they actually do business with each other, that is great.  If they do not do business with each other, you want to know what went wrong so that you can better gauge your referrals in the future.

You do not “sell” person A to person B or person B to person A.  You recommend that they meet and discuss their needs and offerings with each other.  You are not the marketing representative for either one; you are the person who puts them together so they can communicate with each other.

Of course you need to know enough about persons A and B so that you can make intelligent referrals to both.  You also need to know that you can trust both of them to be professional, passionate about their businesses or lives, and personable towards others.  You must be assured that they will treat each other professionally, even if they do not do business with each other.

How do you reach this level of trust?  Referrals are a two way street.  You must get to know each of them before you can refer them to each other.  You must be able to trust each party and believe that they will do right by the other party in the referral.  After all, it is your reputation on the line here; it will be your fault if one party does not treat the other one professionally.

Hopefully, your referrals will show to your networking partners that you are a person who is willing and is capable of making their lives better, both professionally and personally.  After all, referrals can work for our personal lives also.  Hopefully, your referrals will result in your networking partners passing referrals back to you also.  After all, that is the essence of karma.

So as we enter the holiday season, think of the best gift that you can give to one of your networking partners.  Get to know them and pass referrals back and forth with them.  Use their services or products as gifts to your family, friends, prospects, and clients.  Also, give them the gift of solid, valid referrals that will enhance their bottom line.

If you are lucky enough to get the benefit of someone’s referral, or their consultation, that enhances your business, thank them, letting them know that their effort is appreciated and means so much to you.  Then go out and pay them back with a referral, or consultation, of your own.  Sometimes the best referrals that we can give may be our own business given to one of our networking partners.

Once again, please give me your feedback, suggestions, and comments.  Call me, 360-314-8691, so we can get together and chat, or send me an email at Jim@SOC4Now.com with your thoughts.  Maybe you can contribute your experiences to this blog.  Thank you for your interest and thoughts.  I answer my phone, and I return voice mails and emails.

November 28, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness –Appreciation Marketing or Not?


Say you are walking through the grocery aisle and someone asks you where something is located.  Do you wonder why you were singled out, or if you look like someone who works there, or why this always happens to you?  Do you even look like someone who really cares?

Did you ever think that this is a golden opportunity to practice some Appreciation Marketing?  Why not help the person find what they are searching for (assuming that you actually know), or let them know, in a polite manner, that you just cannot help them, but perhaps you can give them the general location.

What have you just accomplished?  You have provided a random act of kindness, something that maybe they will pass on to others.  What if this person happens to see you again in a business environment?  Would they remember you for your kindness or would they remember you as the jerk who ignored their need for assistance?

Which one of the above will the person remember when someone may need what you have to market?  Which one of the above will they introduce with glowing comments to someone else at a networking meeting?  I think that you can see the possibilities here.

I am not saying that we should all prowl the aisles of stores looking for opportunities to assist the lost and confused.  I am saying that we should treat our fellow humans as humans, the way that we all would like to be treated.  It just makes good sense.

I heard the best customer service and etiquette consultant, Jodi Blackwood, say that you never know who someone that you meet may know.  That is so true, and you never know who they may refer to you, if they believe that you are professional, passionate, and yet personable in your business dealings.

So the next time that you can perform a random act of kindness, take the opportunity and try to do something nice for someone who you may never see again, or someone who may become your biggest fan.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691, so we can discuss them.  I will continue to honor your information as I honor all my networking partners’ comments and questions.  Thank you for your interest and input.

November 21, 2010

Appreciation of Prospects – How Does Appreciation Marketing Apply?


Last week, we mentioned prospects and said that we would discuss how appreciation marketing would apply to them.  How can you show appreciation to someone to whom you have never sold anything?

 A prospect is someone who has never been your customer.  When you first met them, send them a note to thank them for the contact and let them know that you want to meet them and get to know them better.  Then, follow up with them and meet them for a chat to establish a relationship.  They should remember you when you contact them; they are not a cold call; they are someone who should recognize you if you call them to meet.  Then you meet them, exchange some information, and establish a networking relationship.  Afterwards, you send them a thank you for the meeting and information, reassure them that you value the relationship, and indicate that you will be glad to exchange any referrals that may come forth.

This is the important aspect of dealing with prospects.  You treat them with respect and courtesy.  You follow up with them each step of the way and establish the relationship in a non-threatening manner.  Then you follow up some more, referring any prospects that you can to them, and thanking them for any referrals that they send to you.  We have previously discussed referrals from our customers.  These referrals from prospects are more valuable.  If a prospect provides you with lots of referrals, it means that the prospect trusts you.  People who trust you will eventually do business with you.  If you can legally, depending on your industry, reward anyone who gives you a referral, but at the very least thank them, in private and in public, for their referral.  Why do you thank them?  It shows appreciation for their trust in you.  Why do you do it in private?  Your referring party needs the pat on the head.  Why do you do it in public?  It shows everyone else what a professional networking partner the referring party is and what a professional you are to gain the trust of the referring party.  This thanking process applies equally to referrals from customers.

Once at a networking meeting, I said that I would not pressure anyone at the meeting to be my customer.  I said that I wanted their referrals; I wanted all their family members, their neighbors, their banker, their grocer, their mechanic, their co-workers, everybody in their lives.  The intent was that if they referred all those people to me, they would trust me enough to do business with me themselves.  I eventually obtained orders from almost the entire group.  Why?  I gained their trust, I showed my appreciation for their referrals, and I did what I said that I would do, provide the best customer service that was possible.

Previously, we discussed how to show continuing appreciation for both current customers and customers that you have lost.  Prospects are no different.  You cannot thank them for their order since they have not placed one with you yet.  You do thank them for the first contact, you thank them for meeting again, you thank them for their referrals, and you thank them for the continuing relationship.  In addition, birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays/events give you additional opportunities to show appreciation for the relationship.  It is this type of marketing that will establish you with your prospects as a professional in the business world.  Of course, when they do become customers, you already know how to show appreciation for their business.

Appreciation Marketing is an important aspect to your business dealings.  While it may not always gain you a customer, it will help you retain your relationship with your prospects, the same prospects who should be a source of valuable referrals.  Use appreciation marketing to foster a relationship with everyone that you meet.  You never know who will be a source of business for you.

Again, if you have questions or comments, please email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691, so we can discuss them.  I will honor your information as I honor all my networking partners’ comments and questions.  As always, thank you for your interest and input.

November 14, 2010

Appreciation of Non-Customers – How Does Appreciation Marketing Apply?

There are two types of non-customers.  First, there is someone who was a customer at one time, but they ceased doing business with you.  Second, there is someone who has never been your customer.

Previously, I said that when you lose a customer (and we all do), you should send them your thank you for their business and tell them how sorry you are that you will not have the pleasure of serving them in the future.  If you do not know why they have ended their relationship with you, ask them if there was something that you did that resulted in their decision to stop doing business with you.  Also ask if there was something that you did not do that you should have done.  Sometimes someone ceases doing business with you for no reason that you can rectify.  You literally did nothing wrong; the situation just changed.  You should always attempt to discover why you lose a customer’s business.  Even if you did not do anything wrong or there was not anything else that you could have done to please them, you still need to know.

If you did something wrong, fix it, tell the former customer how sorry that you are, and assure them that the problem is fixed.  If you omitted doing something that you should have done, assure them that the situation is now changed for the better.  Then, thank them for their business and indicate that you plan to contact them in the future for a possible resurrection of their business.  In both of these cases, contact the former customer in the future and ask them to reconsider their relationship with you.

Let us say that the former customer refuses to tell you why they cancelled their relationship with you.  Again, thank them for their business and reassure them that you still would like to know what the problem was so that you can attempt to address it.  If they do not let you know, move on to future follow up.

In either situation, don’t fail to include both these former customers in your future “appreciation” networking efforts.  Keep sending them greetings on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions.  Keep referring business to these former customers, just like you did prior to their first order with you.  Do not fail to have faith in this theory of networking; it shows that you are interested in relationships that last, no matter what the basis.  It is not that we make mistakes, or not (everyone does sometimes), that defines us; it is how we deal with our mistakes that lets others know what type of business people we are.

Finally, what about those non-customers who have never ordered from you?  They are prospects, and we will discuss them next time.  Just remember that all types of non-customers are possible sources of referrals, assuming that they consider you professional, passionate about your business, and personable in your dealing with others, even the ones who ceased being your direct customers.  You do want referrals from all of them don’t you?

Appreciation Marketing is an important aspect to your business dealings.  While it may not always save a customer, it will help you retain most of them.  Use it to restore a relationship with those that you do lose.

Again, if you have questions or comments, please email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691, so we can discuss them.  I will honor your information as I honor all my networking partners’ comments and questions.  As always, thank you for your interest and input.

November 7, 2010

Appreciation of Customers – A Basis for Appreciation Marketing


For anyone who has a business, one of the most valued parts of that business is our customer base.  We spend a sizable amount of time, effort, and expense in acquiring our customers.  It is much easier, requires less time, and costs less money for us to retain those customers rather than go looking for new ones.  (I am not saying that Appreciation Marketing cannot help obtain new customers, but that is a topic for another blog.)

How do we keep customers happy; how do we get them to appreciate us as businesses as much as we should appreciate them as customers?  We do this by showing them that we appreciate them for being customers.  Does that mean giving away our product or service?  No, it also does not mean under-pricing whatever we sell, nor does it mean that we have to “give” them anything that we don’t “give” to everyone.  It means treating them in a professional, personable, and polite manner.

Everyone likes to be noticed; don’t you like it?  As a child, we liked a pat on the head or shoulder; we liked to be recognized for whatever we did.  Maybe we did things to get that recognition that were not always good.  Our customers are no different.  Customers who believe that we care about them keep doing business with us, and they refer business to us.

First, when you sign a new customer, thank them for doing business with you, welcome them into your customer base, and tell them that you want their feedback on your product or service.  You can do this in person, by email, by telephone, or you can send them a card with the message in your own words.  Do not, and I repeat, do not ask them to buy anything else, or upgrade, at the same time.  Thank them, and don’t ask for anything in return, but their possible feedback.

Second, thank them periodically for continuing to be your customer; do not let them think that the fact that they continue to do business with you means never being recognized or thanked again.  Remember, do not include any offers for additional products or services.  What if your product or service is truly a one time buy; it never wears out, or it never needs to be purchased again?  Do you really want the customer think that you still don’t care about them?  This brings us to the third step.

Happy customers will refer business to you.  You want, and need, referrals.  This is unpaid advertising.  Thank everyone who refers anyone else to you, even if you do not close the deal.  The next referral from that customer might be the biggest deal you ever write.  Always ask a new customer how they knew of you or who, if anyone, referred them.  This will show that you care about your customers, including when they refer someone to you.

In addition, capture your customers’ date of birth and anniversary, along with their spouses’ date of birth.  Never ask for the year, just the month and day.  Then send them a birthday card and an anniversary card.  Make sure that you include both spouses in the anniversary card, and never send both spouses the same birthday card or message in the same year.  Also, make note of other holidays, Christmas, New Years, Independence Day.  Even Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Presidents Day can provide an opportunity for you to brighten a customer’s day.  Another opportunity to touch someone – send a veteran a card on Veteran’s Day to show appreciation for their service, no matter when they served, the branch, or the position.

Finally, when you lose a customer (and we all do), send them your thank you for their business, and tell them how sorry you are that you will not have the pleasure of serving them in the future.  If you do not know why they have left you, ask them if there was something that you did, or if there was something that you did not do that you should have.  (It does not mean that you will change anything.  You should always know why you lose a customer, even if you did nothing wrong or there was nothing else you could do to please them.)

Customer Appreciation Marketing – it is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to retain your customer base.  It sure is a lot easier than listening to the door slam as they leave you.  It also can lead to more customers through the referrals your customers will send to you.

If you have questions or comments, please email or call me, so we can discuss them.  Want to meet for a chat?  We can do that.  Want to discuss your business and how you practice appreciation marketing?  We can do that.  Thank you for your interest and input.

October 31, 2010

Networking – What does it have to do with Appreciation Marketing?


Networking has everything to do with Appreciation Marketing.  When you network, you meet people who are other business owners, other business employees, people who are interested in starting businesses, and people who may be looking for employment.

I attend any and every networking event that I can, and I have never attended a networking event at which I have not met someone meaningful or learned something significant.  When you attend networking events, you are there to meet people and not to sell your product or service.

When you meet people at networking events, gather their contact information and ask if you may meet one-on-one and get to know each other.  There is no prize for the person who collects the most business cards at a networking event; there is a prize for the person who follows up with people that they meet.  When you meet one-on-one, it is not to sell your product or service; it is to gather information to build your network, to add to your networking partners list.  I have never met with anyone one-on-one when I have not learned something meaningful.

When you meet with someone one-on-one, determine if they are professional, passionate about their business, and yet personable.  Chat with them about networking, their business, your business, and referrals.  Remember, do not try to sell them anything.  You are there to establish a relationship so that you can pass referrals to each other.  Passing referrals shows that you endorse them, that you trust them to do a good job, and that you place your reputation on the line to recommend them.  You are showing appreciation for the job and service that they provide.

People who are professional (their business is not a hobby), passionate about their business (they are adamant about providing excellent customer service), and yet personable (they treat others as human beings) are the people who I want in my network and are the people who I will recommend without hesitation.  Those are the people who understand appreciation of customers, non-customers, vendors, and other people, whether they are business partners or not.

If you have questions or comments, please email or call me, so we can discuss them.  Want to meet for a chat?  We can do that.  Want to discuss your business and how you practice appreciation marketing?  We can do that.  Thank you for your interest and input.

October 23, 2010

Appreciation Marketing - What is it?

Appreciation Marketing is when you show appreciation for everyone, whether they are your current clients, your prospects, or your other relationships.

You do this by recognizing their accomplishments, their special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc., their referrals, and their business with you.  In short, it is contacting them and showing that you appreciate their existence in your life, without asking for anything in return.

Perhaps you thank others for becoming a customer; perhaps you thank them for continuing to be a customer.  Whatever you do, do it WITHOUT asking for anything in return.  Don't use these contacts to send them their renewal order; don't promote a new product or special item; don't ask for anything back.  Just recognize them for being them.

Look forward to more information in my follow-up posts, where we will discuss various other occasions and methods to show appreciation to others.  Maybe I'll include your stories and experiences along with mine.

If you ever want to know more, email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com or even better, call me at 360-314-8691.  I answer my phone, and return voice and emails.