January 29, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Going the Extra Mile

Previously, I wrote about those who do the right thing.  That is those people who do what they should do, in their business and their personal lives and in their relationships with everyone.  They always take the extra steps, going beyond the accepted level of performance and never settling for “good enough”.  They believe that “good enough” is just not “good enough”.

This idea was brought to my attention again this week when I received the latest edition of The Costco Connection magazine and read the column by Wally Amos, the founder of Uncle Wally’s Muffin Company.  Thank you Wally for the ideas that you share with millions of people and for the thoughts that help people everywhere take their businesses, and their lives, to the next level.  I have referred you to Wally’s information before and will often, as I believe that his ideas are very important to how we should run our businesses and live our lives.

In his latest column, Wally writes about “going the extra mile” in your business dealings.  It means giving your customers, clients, prospects, everyone who you encounter in life, more than they expected from you and your business.  This is the basis for both karma and Appreciation Marketing.  Not only does it get the attention of the person involved, but it also shows that you believe they are special and that you do not take them for granted.  The secret is that the better that you make them feel, the better you yourself are.

Just look at everyone that you meet as someone whose life you can touch and improve by just giving them a smile or a word of encouragement.  Apply this philosophy to your clients, prospects, employees, vendors, everyone that you encounter.  If you are an employee, try this and see if you can make your employer better, make your work environment better, and make your own life better as a result.  Everyone can, and should, “touch” everyone.

Do you think that you already do the best that you can in your service to others?  Maybe you don’t think that you can afford to do more or you believe that you have reached the pinnacle of giving to others.  I challenge you to take a hard look again.  You can afford to do more because it will give you more to give.  There will not be a deficit in your account from giving to others; a surplus will result.  That surplus is yours to both enjoy and share even more with others.

If you think that you are the best, step up your game to new heights; we all get rusty and need to “crank it up some”.  I constantly meet others who are a challenge to my own levels of service.  I learn from them and thank them for showing me how to “go the extra mile” for my clients.  You can do this also; get going and set the example for others.  Then step it up some more and watch the karma work.  Whatever you put forth will return multi-fold to you from somewhere, someone.

Thanks for your comments, emails, and calls.  I could not write these blog postings without your help and ideas.  Please always feel free to comment, email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Your stories make me laugh, make me see the goodness in others, and give me thoughts for sharing with others.  It is from sharing with others that our good karma grows and returns to us all.

January 22, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – How’s Your Customer Service?

So, how is your customer service?  We have discussed various aspects of customer service over the past blog postings.  Also, we have discussed how to evaluate your customer service, what good customer service is, and what bad customer service is.  Right now, stop and be honest with yourself; how is your customer service?  Is your personal customer service better or worse than that of your business?

Is good customer service the same as giving the business away to increase your customer base?  No, sometimes a business must “fire” a customer, but that is a topic for another time.  So what is “good” customer service?  How do we provide it without sacrificing our core values as a business or as a person?  Good customer service begins with our core values, that is, if we have ever thought of those.  Have you considered what your core values are?

How do you treat customers when you first meet them?  Do you have the means to show them your products or services and the costs involved?  I know someone recently who was shopping for a service for her business and found only one company who had a pre-printed price list for their offerings.  Only one other company could even print a price sheet when she requested one.  She was told by one business owner, “Well, it’s not that hard to remember.”

What does the customer think when they first see your business?  Is your store, if you have one, clean, welcoming, and easy to find?  Is parking easy, convenient, and safe?  Do you welcome them in a friendly manner, making them believe that you appreciate their possible business?  Do you have a pre-printed price sheet with all your offerings, in an easy to read, and understand, format?  Do you find out what someone needs before you try to sell them what you have?

What have we said about making it easy for people to do business with you?  Professional businesses have a valid product or service for a valid price with a listing that customers can see and have if they want to do so.  Perhaps someone needs to research various businesses and write a proposal for someone else in order to finalize a business relationship; maybe they just need to think over their decision to buy from you or not.  Maybe they are concerned about you, or your employees, misquoting, or changing, the price before the decision is finalized.

Is the buying process easy to follow and understand?  Is the delivery process easy on the customer?  Will delays hamper your ability to deliver the product when the customer wants it?  Is there a way for the customer to track the product delivery?  Is there a way for problems to be rectified if necessary?  Is the customer service department necessary to correct problems, and how difficult are they to reach?  Can they make decisions to correct problems?

What about your return policy?  Do you even have one, or are all purchases made without the possibility of return?  Is the policy clearly spelled out to everyone, even to employees?  Is the policy followed, or are there exceptions?  Why are there exceptions?  Does your business take ownership of mistakes, make corrections visible to everyone, and honor everyone’s commitments?  Everyone makes mistakes; no one is immune to, or beyond, making errors.

As your comments, emails and calls come in, I’ll start writing my next blogs which will discuss some of your thoughts as well as some that I haven’t yet mentioned.  Be sure to share your ideas here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Your experience, good or bad, is valuable to others.  Sharing is just great karma.

January 15, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Measure Time in Deeds, Not in Minutes

How do you measure time?  Do you count the minutes, and hours, that you spend in your networking relationships?  Perhaps you should measure your time spent in networking partnerships in deeds instead of minutes or hours.  After all, aren’t deeds more important than minutes?

Entering into networking partnerships is a form of Appreciation Marketing.  We are marketing ourselves and our businesses, and we should show our appreciation for others.  That is what we discuss here each and every week, isn’t it?  Well, it should be Appreciation Marketing; otherwise we are just looking to get what we can for ourselves.

How about the time that we spend in marketing through networking?  I’ll bet that you spend lots of minutes, hours, and even more in this effort every week, if not everyday.  How do you measure that time?  Perhaps you record the time spent in each meeting, each project, maybe each telephone call.  Maybe you should not record time in this manner; maybe you should just count the deeds that you perform in the interest of others.

When we undertake making Appreciation Marketing our guidelines for our networking, we determine that we will try to assist others in improving their business, in improving the lives of others, and in making everyone else’s success become a reality.  We do this by our encouragement, by our gratitude for their business and efforts towards us, and by advising them in how they can improve themselves and their lives.

This takes a toll in time from our own lives and businesses.  However, we must not look at the time spent; we must look at the deeds that we perform.  We also must look toward performing more and more of these deeds than we routinely do perform.  Whatever the number that we perform, it is never enough.  There is always another deed that we should be completing for someone that can help them.  Being a giver is a never ending lifestyle.

Don’t misunderstand; I do not mean that we should start keeping score on the deeds that we perform for anyone.  If you are doing that, stop immediately.  That is not what we should be doing.  Karma doesn’t work like that, anyway.  What you do for someone will not be repaid by something from them; it will come back to you from somewhere that you don’t even suspect or even expect.  The deeds that we do for others should not show in a tally system or count listing of any sort.  Just do for others, and the result will flow for all.

So, stop keeping track of the time that you spend in helping others and trying to make the lives of others better.  When you stop, you will find that there is so much more time to do so much more.  You will be surprised by how much more that you can accomplish.  Remember, there is always someone else that needs your helping hand or your kind thought or gesture.

As you go through your day, try to look for more opportunities to make others feel your gratitude or experience your assistance to them.  Then, see if you don’t feel better by not tracking the time spent doing this.  Afterwards, you can let me know how this makes you feel by leaving me your comments, or you can email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can call me at 360-314-8691.  Let’s see if we can start keeping time in deeds done, but let’s don’t keep score on the number of good deeds that we do for others.  That’s not good karma.

January 8, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Work Smarter, Not Harder

In one of my past lives, I worked with someone who was a finish carpenter.  He was masterful at working with wood and creating beautiful results.  He was one of those people who believed that if you were going to “do” anything, you should “do” it right.  If it wasn’t right, you should fix it so that it was right.  In other words, do the right thing, no matter what you are doing.

One of the other things that he believed was “working smarter, not harder”.  No matter what you are doing, there may be more than one way to complete the task.  There is the one where you work hard, and there may be the way where you work smart.  Working harder may involve not using the correct tools, working harder may mean exerting more physical effort, or working harder may result in taking longer to complete the task at hand.

When you work harder, you may require more people to engage in the project than if you work smarter.  You may also place yourself, and others involved in the project, in dangerous situations when you persist in working harder than you need to do so.  Anytime that we can take advantage of a smarter method of completing any task we should do so.  This may not only be for our own benefit, but perhaps may be for the benefit of others.

It is always better to work smarter, not harder.  Why should you work “hard” when you can work “smart”, exerting less effort and perhaps saving time?  Are there tools that you can use to work smarter?  These may include power tools, computers, the internet, or just the additional assistance of others.  Working “smart” may include using safer methods of work, placing ourselves in safer environments in our work, or just verifying that the necessary preparation steps have been taken prior to the task at hand.

Working smarter has another benefit; it shows others that you have the necessary intelligence to look at a situation and analyze it to determine if there is a better way to accomplish the desired result.  We lead by example, showing others that there may be “smarter” means to accomplish our work.  If we keep doing what we do the “hard” way, we really do not set the best example to others.  Then we look somewhat stupid by banging our head against a wall over and over.

I have another friend who asks, “If you keep doing whatever you have always done, why are you amazed that you keep getting whatever you have always gotten?  Last week we discussed doing something new and different in order to change the results from the marketing of your business.  We also discussed that changes can, and should, apply to both our business as well as personal lives.  Don’t be the person that says, “We have always done it this way.”  Be the person who thinks outside the box and is creative.

As we make resolutions, we should make one to work smarter, not harder.  Building relationships, or partnerships, will bring you, and your business, to a point of success.  Have an opinion on this subject?  Please leave me your comments, or you can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your thoughts with others.  Let’s all start the year on the right foot and work smarter, together, for the success of everyone.

January 1, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – What Will You Change?

It is that time of the year, the time to make New Year’s resolutions.  What, you don’t believe in resolutions!  My, my, my, aren’t you the perfect one.  Maybe you are the person who made resolutions that you never kept, so you don’t make them anymore.  Maybe you just never thought about making any changes in what you are and what you do.

Decades ago when I worked in systems development, I always disliked the phrase: “We have always done it this way”.  I equally disliked the phrase: “we have never tried that.”  Perhaps you have heard the one: “That won’t work”, or this one: “That’s not the way we do things”.  You know how I believe in thinking outside the box and being creative.  Perhaps it is time to shake off the chains of how you have always done business and try something new and see what happens.

Is your way of living working like you want it to?  Be honest with yourself, and ask if you would like to see improvement.  Nothing should always be the same; people and markets change.  You cannot do business year in and year out the same way and expect your bottom line to improve, or even to stay healthy.  Maybe small changes will bring large improvements; maybe large changes are necessary.

If you try something new and it doesn’t work, do something else.  If that doesn’t work, try something else.  Don’t be wedded to anything too long that delivers negative results.  Is how you do business professional, are you passionate about your business procedures, and are you personable in your business dealings?  If not, then you need to make changes and keep making them until you can answer the previous questions in a positive manner.  Then, you will begin to reap the results of your new marketing plan and your new business operation.

We have previously discussed how I believe in marketing your business through appreciation of others, of your clients, of your prospects, of your networking partners.  Haven’t tried marketing through karma; why not give it a whirl?  What do you have to lose?  In some cases, you might just improve your bottom line to the point that you become a believer.  In other situations, you might need to make major surgery on your marketing plan, becoming a giver who doesn’t keep score on who did what for whom.

If you treat others well, they will think highly of you and remember you when they hear of someone who needs what you have.  If you are professional, they will refer business to you, and your business will grow.  If you treat others in a personal way, your reputation will become known to others in a positive manner, and business owners will recognize you as a valid partner in networking and referrals, even if they have never done business with you themselves.

So make a resolution to get to know, like and trust others and get them to know, like, and trust you.  Build a networking partnership with all the others and watch your bottom line improve.  Let me have your thoughts on this resolution and share your comments with us all.  You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Let’s make a clean sweep in the New Year for us all to be better people and better partners with everyone we meet.