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Marketing Top Tip Battle!

Incubate the spirit

Maybe the main point of business is to incubate the human spirit.

Anita Roddick thought so, and she didn't do too badly (Body Shop). >


Reciprocation is powerful, be nice

Remember the old market stalls where they'd weigh out your carrots and always err on the side of giving you more than you were paying for?

In human evolution, the idea that it's safe to give because the receiver will always find a way to give back gave us advantage by lowering the natural inhibitions against transactions that must be begun by someone giving something of their personal resources. It's how we ended up with world trade.

Psychologically, it's called reciprocation and it's very powerful.

It works if you are genuine. The guy giving away pencils in the high street does not trigger reciprocation. We don't think .. I must find that guy and buy him a coffee sometime. (If you haven't had the pleasure, this was a common technique where they (I think) still held on to the pencil and tried to talk to you about charity.)

So, the Boyes (department store) Sale doesn't trigger reciprocation, and wouldn't even if it were a genuinely heartfelt giveaway. We know how business works. Free gifts don't cut it.

When was the last time you were made to feel special by a business?

I remember trying to surreptitiously remove the soil from the last carrots in an organic shop until I was spotted and the shopkeeper said "oh, take them". Mixed, that one, but it was years ago, their generosity in the face of my approach has obviously stuck :-)

It works the other way, too, of course. One time The Body Shop was giving away Anita Roddick's book for purchases over I seem to remember £15 and for some reason I maybe bought £14 and then realised and went back to spend more and they said I had to spend £15 in one go. I ended up writing to the franchise owner who said I could have the book, but how tarnished was that offer in the end?

Oh, here's one. My partner ordered some outside lights from John Lewis, then some more and they were different, so she called to work it out and they said they'd send some replacements. "Shall I send these others back?" she asked. "No, it's fine, keep them". That seemed extraordinary. That bought loyalty.

The times when the opportunity arose and I didn't give, haunt me. A lady collapsed slowly to the ground as I drove past on a busy street the other day. Anyone could have stopped and helped, and it was really awkward, at a traffic junction and so on, but it haunts me that I didn't hazard the car and check she was alright.

My neighbour died. She was properly weird in that anytime we did anything nice at all, say, just speaking to her in the street, she'd find something funny or a cute card and push it through our letterbox. When she died, her family came up to clear the house and they were the same.

I can't seem to find it now, but isn't it in How To Make Friends and Influence People, the story of a sales guy who spent his life sending handwritten & thoughtful thank-you notes and personal cards and letters to people, remembered everyone's birthdays and so on (and obviously became very successful). (Personally, I can't even remember anyone's name so maybe I should start by making an effort there.)

The upshot is: find a way to give. Your time, your money, your assets. I guess if you just dumped everything to charity and walked off into the sunset Reginald Perrin style, that doesn't trigger reciprocation, so you have to find ways to give that are likely to come back to you somehow.

But don't miss the opportunity. Reciprocation is powerful. Always be generous.


Come back another time for the ability to vote and make your own marketing planner.

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Hi, I'm John Allsopp and I founded A Million Tweaks in 2009 to do just what it says, continually improve marketing systems.

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