A young man is selling M&Ms to raise money for his high school baseball team outside a downtown Border’s bookstore. An older businessman walks past him, ignoring the solicitation. As the businessman moves past, the youth utters a mild expletive under his breath, which the businessman overhears. He turns his head, offended and surprised, but thinking better of escalating an unfortunate encounter, continues on his way.
The frustrated youth didn’t lose just a sale that day. He made the market toxic for everyone who was making similar entreaties for his cause. He treated a potential relationship as a transaction. Any time the businessman is pitched to donate for a similar cause in the future, he is presumably going to remember that unpleasant incident and think better of it.
How are you treating your customers who aren’t responding to your sales and marketing efforts? While you (hopefully) are not cursing them when they reject your efforts, are you reaching out to them in ways that don’t just serve your own agenda? Or do you approach them only when you want something from them?
During a recession, it’s easy to lose sight of the values and virtues that sustained organizations when times were good. However, those very qualities are what will be most important as we move into more profitable and productive times. Successful organizations and brands continually reach out to their customer base, not merely to generate a sale, but to engender loyalty, create awareness and plant the seeds for future opportunities. By thinking of the long term, it’s easier to build relationships that will sustain organizations long after missed sales and hard economic times have passed.