I recently had a catch-up coffee with a friend who is a smart, passionate entrepreneur with a strong drive not just to succeed but to do things well. Not surprisingly, I came away thinking about how I run my business and how I can do it better.
The friend had two related observations:
- He is aware that none of his customers have to do business with him so he wants everything about their experience to convey his gratitude. He reminds his employees that they have jobs because of customers spending their money and he sends thank you gifts to big customers.
- He wants to feel that same appreciation from his business partners. He was looking for retailers to work with and nixed those where he walked and felt a chilly reception from staff, and he’s loathe to spend money with big-ticket vendors that don’t seem enthusiastic about his business.
This isn’t about mob-style kickbacks or superficial sucking up. As we talked about the importance of showing gratitude, it was clear that my friend was talking about the human connection of doing business.
A few years ago, I was evaluating a vendor for a contract with a large price tag. I called multiple references and none of them spoke generically about how good the company was, they all enthused about the excellent service they got from their salesman. In their minds, they bought from him personally, not a big faceless corporation. He made them feel appreciated. He was the reason they worked with that vendor.
I love sending and receiving handwritten thank you notes, so the most obvious way for me to show appreciation to my clients — beyond doing good work for them — is to send a note.
But there are lots of ways to show appreciation. You could bring a bottle of Veuve Clicquot back from France, as our real estate agent did for us years ago. Or send a link to an article you think your customer would find interesting, or greet a customer warmly by name when he walks through your door.
We’re coming up on Thanksgiving and many of my friends are doing 30 Days of Gratitude, posting daily thanks about various things and people they appreciate. So it seems like the perfect time to show your customers you are thankful for them.
Maybe it’ll even lead to more business to appreciate?
Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.
- Appreciation Marketing: A Strategy Based on Gratitude (outright.com)
- Gratitude (ironmanager.org)
- Five Strategies For A Successful Follow-Up Campaign (thehartford.com)