Have you ever played the Warm Fuzzy Game? If not, you’ve probably participated in something like it during a team-building exercise somewhere along the way. Early in my career, I worked a lot with teenagers and I would use this game to illustrate a point. I gave each kid 5 or 10 cotton balls, told them that they were gifts, and then told them that they had 5 minutes to give them all away to other members of the group.
Every time, the 5 minutes would run out and every person had gifts left in their hands. It was impossible for anyone to give all of the gifts away, because someone else would always be refilling the supply. The Lesson Is: When everybody only worries about giving, ell needs get met.
This brings me to the second part of our latest discussion. Monday we looked at why content creation is so hard due to the scarcity of creatives. Today we’ll examine another reason why it is so hard – Giving.
It’s All About Giving
Remember last week when I made the statement that business is not about transactions, but about relationships? Well, it’s true. Profitable transactions are the by-product of nurtured relationships and the best way to nurture a relationship is to give to it. We delude ourselves into believing that we’re giving all the time by offering sales or discounts. But that’s more like relenting than giving.
Giving is not about giving at one end of the transaction and making it back on the other end. It’s not about giving in order to motivate someone to give back. It’s not about giving something away to ease our conscience because we took advantage of people somewhere else. Giving is when we provide value to someone at cost to ourselves for the sole purpose of nurturing our relationship.
There are lots of places to give in any business. Customer Service is a process of giving. Technical support is also giving. Customer Satisfaction efforts after the sale is even more giving. But, the asset owned by nearly every business that is best suited for giving is your website. Nothing offers you more relationship nurturing power than your website.
So, to help you see how you can nurture your customer relationships with content creation, I will share with you something I use personally every day. Here are my 5 rules of giving.
The 5 Rules of Giving
Rule 1: Give First
Giving occurs in chain reactions. One gift inspires another as each person shares freely out of gratitude. When we give first, we start the chain. Giving first allow forces us out of selfish motive. When we give first, there’s no guarantee that anything is coming our way in the deal. It stretches and grows us. It’s uncomfortable at first, but soon becomes second nature.
Rule 2: Give Freely
If we give without preconceived expectations, we cannot be disappointed by the experience. Joy comes from the act of giving not the gift itself. When we give freely, we remain free. As I told you before, Creatives are all about freedom, but so are most people. Giving freely teaches us to depend more on our relationships and less on our resources.
Rule 3: Give Best
Just as generosity inspires generosity, excellence inspires excellence. By only giving the best we inspire others to do the same. This increases the quality of giving altogether, making our world a richer place. When we give best, we improve things. We also communicate value and worth to those who receive from us. I hate the term “perceived value,” because it’s cheap and disingenuous. You can never go wrong providing the very best true value.
Rule 4: Give All
Our culture tries desperately to convince us that we should collect, conceal, and consume. However, the secret to true fulfillment lies not in gathering things in, but in giving things away. The world says, “Live full,” but givers say, “Die empty.” When we give all, we maximize our impact. So, when you give to your customers, don’t hold that last little bit back – give it all. They will appreciate the value, but they’ll appreciate the honesty even more.
Rule 5: Give Credit
The practice of giving credit works two ways. It helps the giver to maintain humility and the receiver to feel valued. Everyone wants to be recognized for hard work and contribution. By giving credit, we affirm the value of those around us. When we give credit, we keep things in perspective. Your customers don’t expect you to be the ultimate source of everything and crediting others will gain you far more than pretending to know everything yourself.
OK, now that I’ve shared my rules of giving, let me share some practical suggestions for using them to help you create content.
Give away the secret knowledge of your industry. Bob Webster is a good friend of mine. He owns Webster Funeral Home in Fairfield, Ohio where I live. Some years ago he shocked his competitors by buying billboards all over town and advertising the price of his services. Advertising wasn’t anything new to the funeral home industry. Others did it all the time. But no one ever displayed prices.
That was the secret knowledge that these seemingly compassionate funeral directors used to make profit from grieving people making spur-of-the-moment decisions. When Bob advertised a reasonable price for a quality service, he evened the playing field. That enraged his competitors, but it built deep, long-lasting trust with all of his new customers. Bob even went so far as to write a book full of industry knowledge. And it works.
Help your customers comparison shop. Insurance companies have been doing this for years. The power of this approach is three-fold. You’re giving genuine convenience by helping your customers shop multiple companies in one place, your offering proof that your price and service is the best, and you are showing that you are comfortable with the ongoing accountability to remain the best value.
The best example of this is Progressive insurance. When you call for a quote, they give you their rates and the rates of other competing companies (and they really do, I know because I called). They don’t even promise to be the lowest. In fact, sometimes their not. Progressive is trading in a currency more valuable than discounts. They are counting on their honesty, helpfulness, and amazing customer service to overcome any minimal difference in price. And it works.
Educate your customers about confusing aspects of your business. I have had the privilege of knowing the Dixon Family for years. They own and operate Hillandale retirement communities in Butler County where I live. Their mottto is, “We Care Like Famliy, Because We Are.” That speaks to the fact that their business has been family owned and operated for three generations. But, more than that, it speaks to the way they view the residents who call their communities home.
The Dixons and their staff go out of their way daily to educate the residents and their families about the intricacies of retirement living. Have you ever tried to navigate and understand the Medicare system? Well they do understand it and guide people through it every day. They help families understand complex medical terms and procedures. And they eat, sleep, and breathe customer service to insure each person has an awesome experience. And it works.
These are just three ways that you can channel your web content into giving to your customers. Think about the things you could reveal, research, and teach people with your blog, your newsletter, and your social media. What do they want to know? What do they need to know? Give it to them and nurture that relationship. And it will work.
How do you give to your customers through your web content? Share a comment and let’s talk about it.