A: In another Ask the Coach, we responded to a question about how to increase a company’s sales with another question: If you could do just one thing to help your customers and your business, what would that be? Our answer to both questions was to consider giving more of what you have away. One of the most potent laws of influence is the law of reciprocity (http://www.lawofreciprocity.com/).
The law is that people want to repay, in kind, what another person has given to them. Reciprocity flows from the law of love (www.LawofLove.com) that is “the gift of giving” without the “hope of reward or pay,” or serving others. Remind yourself that reciprocity is not about what you need but what the other person needs and how you can give that to them.
Finding ways to make your gift stand out takes some thought about what would make the recipient happy.
Ask a Las Vegas cab driver, What's the best show in town? He will probably reply with something like this, “Oh, Jay Leno! My wife and I just went to see him. He gives a special show for taxi drivers at two in the morning. Otherwise, we could never afford to go. Kenny Rogers does the same thing when he's in town.”
You wouldn't think that anyone as big in the entertainment field as Jay Leno and Kenny Rogers needs to give away their performances, but they do. Both realize that some of the best word-of-mouth advertising they could have would be taxi drivers raving about
their shows. Why not consider giving something of value in your profession away to your company’s best referral sources, too?
For your best customers, consider abandoning the usual baskets of fruit and cheese or imprinted coffee mugs at special times of the year. Also, avoid those silly end-of-the-year gifts of refrigerator magnet calendars given in mass by real estate and insurance agents. Many recipients would rather see the money you spend on calendars or fruit baskets go to a worthwhile cause.... like a charity or to help someone get to where they want to be.
How can you be of help while showing appreciation for those you serve?
Determine who your best customers are (like the 20% who represent 80% of your revenues) and then send each a gift that keys into their interests or select a gift certificate that can be used to improve their personal or corporate capability.
Choose gift certificates of value, based upon the unique strengths of your business that can be passed on to others---for the personal development of an employee or to reward a key player. Such gift giving can be accomplished by both a product or service business that wishes to give more away in its business operations.
For example, in my coaching practice, I offer people the opportunity to sign up for free leadership coaching tips at: http://www.coachingtip.com/. The gift recipient receives periodic self-coaching insights in digestible bites for on-the-job application while fitting easily into his or her action-packed schedule. Research and self-coaching tip recipients tell me that people learn better, retain more and are positively motivated when supported by regular and frequent coaching.
All businesses are ultimately people serving people and our life’s work should come from the heart. Long after your thoughtful gift has been delivered, the feelings and knowledge shared during the business relationship remain.
Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, tells us that there is five ways people speak and understand emotional love. One of those is in receiving gifts: A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say "Look, he was thinking of me," or "She remembered me." The gift is a symbol of thought and the thought remains not only in the mind but is expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as an expression of love.