Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting by Giving

But you have to give first.

Then take a look at what you get.

This is from Glen Stansberry and his blog:

Miracle On WWW Street

miracle on 34th street
A few nights back my wife and I were playing cards with friends while watching the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street. (We’re talking the original 1947 version with Maureen O’Hara, not the mid-nineties remake.)

While the movie isn’t the most spell-binding flick ever made, it brings up an interesting component that’s been lacking in modern shopping: no-strings-attached referrals.

For those of us needing a refresher, a theme throughout the movie is that the original Santa Claus works at Macy’s, and when children ask for a certain toy that Macy’s doesn’t have, Santa gives tells their parents which Macy’s competitor has it in stock. This sends shockwaves throughout the nation, with major competing brands giving each other free business, in the name of Christmas spirit.

Hokey, right?

Not really, actually. You see, this is actually a fantastic business practice that not enough businesses use. If you can be seen as a resource, you’ll be seen as an authority. And you’ll become the endpoint for people’s purchasing decisions because they can trust you. You might lose some sales, but you’ll build a much more supportive customer base. Because, you know, they trust you.

Becoming a resource means that you’ll always win. Think about the possible outcomes: At best your competitors will soften, and might even return the favor. At worst, they’ll wonder why you’re sending people to them, and be glad for the unexpected business. But you didn’t start your business for your competitors did you? You started it for your customers.

It seems the hot thing right now is to push “authentic”, “heart-filled” business practices. You know those all-too-common catchphrases like “it’s not really about money”. Well, it is. If it wasn’t about money, then we’d just give everything away for free. At the end of the day, businesses exist to put food on the table.

I think originally those buzzwords were created to push businesses into putting the customer first, not the company’s bottom line. This is what makes the good ‘ol fashioned referral so awesome. You have potential to make more money, sending people away.

Customers haver excellent memories, especially of the really good (and bad) experiences. And they talk about them.

Think what the Web would be like if we focused more on helping customers find exactly what they want, not what we wanted them to want? Something to think about this holiday season.

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