12 Most Powerful Things To Give This Year!
‘Life’s a game of give and take’ sang Marvin Gaye. It’s one of those things that we’re taught early on as kids and encouraged to adhere to throughout our lives. It’s a sound and fundamental principle which I fully support. Many businesses are fantastic at giving, although I have to say, the way business is often portrayed by many in the media, it seems it’s only about take, take, take.
The holidays are often a time for ‘giving’, which is wonderful, but as the New Year starts, I would like to carry on focusing on the give, give, give! I don’t just mean the donations to all the great charities doing brilliant work around the world for which I would fully applaud any business for doing.
I’m also not advocating the giving of ‘discounts’ on your products and services at the drop of a hat – anyone can give stuff away. It just doesn’t always make sound, commercial sense. The ‘give, give, give’ things I want to discuss are typically easier and simpler than donations or discounts, usually cheaper and can often be far more beneficial (to you and to others) in the coming 12 months.
Here are some things you may want to consider giving:
1. Customer delight!
It’s all about ‘exceeding’ your customers’ expectations. Find ways to make them go ‘wow’ – little things that make them feel valued as customers.
Help your customers and network contacts do their jobs better, improve their competitiveness, make their lives easier. Offer ways to solve the problems and challenges that they may be facing, provide ideas to make better use of your products and services. Consider ‘How to…’guides, podcasts, seminars, one to one problem solving sessions, case studies and ‘real life’ examples.
It’s not about ‘pushing’ products and services. It’s about relevance and added value. Hey, you could give them the details of the 12 Most… website – you know there’s lots of great stuff on here!
4. Leads and referrals!
Business is about relationships and it’s clear that those who are good at building these are not the ones who simply go around handing out loads of business cards to anyone who looks at them at network meetings. They link people, they help their network, and they proactively build their relationships. This can involve spotting opportunities for others, passing leads and inquiries and providing relevant referrals for their friends. Who could you give leads and referrals to? I’m talking about your customers, your network contacts, even your suppliers.
5. Feedback to your suppliers!
Let your suppliers know what they are doing well and not so well. Be constructive and honest – too many businesses don’t get a real picture of how they are performing as unhappy customers just walk away!
Let them know when they’ve done something well, (and point out constructively when they haven’t). How do you feel when a customer emails or rings to say you’ve done a great job? Do you find yourself doing even more next time that customer wants something? Why not be that customer? Spot people doing things well and tell them! You know it makes sense.
Tell other people about those suppliers who do a great job for you!
7. Praise to your people!
Spot your people doing things well and tell them! Do it appropriately! Some like it to be open and public for others to see – others like a ‘quiet word’. If you can’t find people doing things right, you’re either not looking properly or you’ve got the wrong people!
8. Attention to your team!
Do you really know what they are thinking and feeling? Do they have ideas for improvement? Do you have a process for getting these ideas? By the way, ‘My door is always open’ is NOT a process!
9. Encouragement and support to others!
As well as encouraging the people in your team (tip: you probably don’t do it as much as you actually think you do), what about encouraging others outside your business? It could be people with less experience than you: young entrepreneurs, students, or school kids – individuals who really could benefit from your knowledge and experience.
10. Yourself ‘time’ to think!
It’s not easy, but try to create some time to think ‘strategically’. It’s OK to take time out to work ON your business, not just IN it – in fact, it’s not just ‘OK’, it’s essential!
11. Yourself a good look in the mirror!
What do you do well, and what do you not so well? Why not find out what others think? A great exercise we use is STOP, START, CONTINUE – a very simple process by which, for example, your team, your customers, your colleagues, or your manager, tell you what they think you should STOP doing, START, doing and CONTINUE doing as a leader, team member, supplier etc! However, only do this if you’re prepared to listen to what is said – and be warned! One client of mine, an MD of an engineering business was told by one of his employees to ‘STOP breathing’!
12. A damn!
Frighteningly, sometimes all this means is returning calls, acknowledging and smiling at customers and your colleagues, hitting deadlines, and doing what you said you were going to do. The best businesses do more than this, and find ways of demonstrating that. Proactively demonstrate to your own customers and your people that you care, and please make sure that all your people do the same. Just one individual who doesn’t do this undermines everyone else’s actions.
In these tougher times, ‘Giving’ might not always be the first thing that people think about as a competitive strategy. I’m not suggesting that simply ‘giving’ is the answer, or is a competitive strategy on its own, but it can be a significant ‘ingredient’ in that strategy.
So, in the spirit of ‘giving’, here’s a link to a simple discussion paper that I’d like to give you. It highlights the 7 Characteristics of Remarkable Businesses, and don’t worry, you don’t have to subscribe or GIVE any details to get it!
They’re simple things, but that’s the point! Feel free to take them, use them and perhaps give them on to others too. Finally, ‘Giving’ is not a marketing gimmick – it’s a principle or philosophy which will produce the results for you and your business. So, go on, GIVE it a go!
In the meantime, here’s to the 12 Most Remarkable months for us all in 2012!
Image by istolethetv licensed via Creative Commons