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). >
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.
Nowadays I'm still just as hungry to learn the latest and most effective marketing techniques in what is an incredibly fast moving world. Basically I buy all the training courses so you don't have to.
Actually that's not an insignificant thing. Back in the day I got a first in my degree (Internet Computing) because I did the work, obviously, but also because I studied well and that means taking information from different sources and mixing things up to find the truth in the middle, and I still do that today. I remember waking up one Sunday, switching on the wooden, push button TV we had next to the bed and Tony Buzan came on with his mind maps .. it's still how I study now.
There used to be a very popular service that read all the business books and summarised them for busy executives. I'm not sure if that's still going, but this service is like a modern equivalent, except we'll actually do the work for you too if you like.
In marketing, however, there is an absolute truth: the result. It's often more effort to talk about marketing improvements than to enact them. Don't talk: test. If it works it works. So A Million Tweaks is about making small, low risk changes every day and iterating our way to your fame and fortune.
Anyway, I was supposed to be introducing myself in this box. I live in Scarborough with my partner (who has ME/CFS). I'm 6'6" tall which I think makes me an observer. I drum in a ska band (come see us it's a great night) :-)
If you want to get in touch there's 07762 941921 but best for me is email firstname.lastname@example.org or hook up with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Even better, fill out the form on this page and let's get talking about how we can apply some of these marketing improvements to your business, it's no good left stuck in my head now, is it?