Giving and Receiving
Now, let’s move forward with the story. These small business owners had to borrow money to start their business. Part of the borrowed money was to pay the entire seasonal rent upfront; part was used to start renovate the building so it was more attractive and welcoming; and part was used to buy the necessary supplies, rent a debit machine and to connect a phone line for the debit machine.
As I mentioned earlier, this small seasonal store focused on selling local crafts and not imported products. Part of the marketing strategy was to become known as a destination for purchasing all locally made products that differed from the other small businesses in the area. And, with each passing month, their reputation evolved without one penny spent on advertising. How did they do it?
There were several factors that help propel these small business owners forward toward their goal but the propulsion mechanism wasn’t simply more and more earnings without a special ingredient that played prominently in their business. This mechanism was comprised of three main features. The first feature was their dedication to their customers. It was a demonstration of not only great customer service but was more focused on relationship building. It didn’t matter to them if they realized that they would never see the customer again given that the customer lived in another province, or state or country. The focus was on people not on sales.
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Were the owners only focused on developing relationships with those who bought? No. It didn’t matter. There is a lot more involved in running a successful business than just sales. The continuing demonstration of concern and caring about anyone who walked into their store highlighted the contact, not a sale. Many, many times, those store visitors (the non-buying ones) were the ones who not only came back and purchased an item, but also either brought family or friends with them, or recommended their store to others they met.
And, another factor that propelled them forward was their demonstrated caring and compassion for those people who weren’t interested in buying anything. In fact, some of these people never came back again, nor did they recommend the store to others. So, what was the dividend for the owners? What was the factor that propelled them forward despite a non-sale visitor? Why did the visitor come in the first place?
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These visitors walked into the store carrying hurts and pains, or family issues, or challenges in their jobs. The owners went beyond a warm greeting; they took time to engage these people in a loving, caring and compassionate way; through only listening, in some cases; to listening and exploring possible solutions, in other cases; and, providing spiritual guidance and reinforcement in other cases.
The third factor is one that will strike most business owners as both odd and ridiculous. This factor, however, led to warm relationships, an appreciative parent, or the revival of knowing that not everyone is focused on the dollar. This factor, this mechanism, wasn’t about a unique marketing plan either. This mechanism, this action was a genuine expression of warmth, of caring and friendship. It had no strings attached; no expectation of a reward. Have you guessed what it was?
The mechanism, the factor was the action of giving away a product. That’s right, you read correctly. These owners would give products away to various visitors and customers. This act wasn’t driven by selfishness nor by some unique and different marketing strategy to gain buying customers.
Most of the recipients of these product gifts were flabbergasted; they said they had never received anything free in any store they had ever visited. Many who received such a gift thought they were then obligated to buy something; but they weren’t and, in fact, they were discouraged from doing so. The gift was a gift; a no strings attached gift.
What was the reason for giving away products? Maybe it is as simple as receiving a reward but not of money – a simple thank you and a smile was reward enough.
It’s not all about the bottom line!
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“Our work aims to serve others, and contributes to increasing the health, wealth, comfort and insight of other beings in an honest and supportive way.” Michael Hetherington
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
“But make no mistake, what I’ve described here is what makes great salespeople great. The best ones honestly care about the people they’re selling to, they thrive on meeting new people and hearing new stories, and they’re certain they’re giving as much as they’re getting in return.” Joe Procopio