Giving(As seen in the Cedar Park Proud Dec 2010 Newsletter)

We all know that Christmas is a time of giving. When you think about all those people shopping for their friends and loved ones for the holidays, more often than not, their minds are in the giving mode. What about the business owner?  From many perspectives the businesses, especially during difficult financial times, are looking to capture as much revenue as they can.

This perspective goes against everything the Holiday Season is about. Why not take a different approach. One idea can be taking a percentage of your marketing budget and turning it into a customer rewards program. Give something to them when they walk through the door, just for walking through the door!  It doesn’t have to be much, but giving starts the receiving process. The law of reciprocity will work in your favor. These days, the customer holds all the power. Giving them a little reminder of just how important they are can go a long way to garner lifelong loyalty and effective word of mouth exposure. Both are especially important any time of the year.

Another thing to consider: Asking for the sale vs giving the sale. In sales, we are trained to, “Ask for the sale.”  Instead of thinking of asking for something, take the givers approach. When someone purchases something, give them the item they purchased.  I don’t mean for free. Sale them the item, but instead of asking for purchase type, “cash or credit,” keep the focus on what they’re going to do with the item once they’ve purchased it.  In other words, make them feel like they’re getting something out of the deal, instead of just being sold.  Here’s how that looks: “Is there anything else you need before going home to (Insert Verb Here) the items in your cart?”

One of the easiest things you can do this Holiday Season to attract more business is giving information to your customer. Giving information is free, and I’d bet my junior college education that you already know a lot about your industry, service or product.  Hold a class or workshop in your store during operating hours. If you’re a print shop, do a print demo with actual Christmas cards the customer can take home with them. If you’re an insurance agent, hold an educational seminar around holiday safety awareness and make sure you have a lot of eggnog for your students.

Give them a way to connect. I want to talk about how you can create free tools to listen to the community and how they are receiving your giving. Social networks like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and search engines like Google give you a sense of connectivity. As you give this Holiday Season, ask your customer, clients and patients to return the giving in the form of feedback. Genuine reviews and words of praise are the best form of marketing you can get. Actual social proof that you deserve your customers as opposed to the other way around. 

Whatever business you’re in, get creative and share that with the community. Giving to your community is one of the best ways to give this time of year. Your city, town or civic organizations are looking for support to assist those who are less fortunate. supply them with your time, product or imagination. Giving back to the community, when done from the heart, will establish you as a benefit to your society and you can’t track rewards like that. Those are the kinds of activities that keep repaying themselves all year long. Volunteer to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving or play Santa in the Holiday Parade. Giving what you can, and it’s always more than you think, is what community is all about.

Remember to keep giving. When your community gives you high marks, reward them for doing so. Give without expecting returns, give your knowledge, give a way to connect.  They are, after all, your neighbors too.

(Then check out my most recent blog post: Logration)

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