Money Can’t Buy (Brand) Love

Money Can’t Buy (Brand) Love

Are you ready for another post from the Word Carnival? This month’s topic is timely: love. Last month’s topic was, in a poetically ironic way, loving to hate your business.

It resonated with a lot of people who understood that sometimes things go wrong and when that happens, you may need to break out the Oreos and a little tantrum to help you cope.

But this month, with the topic focused squarely on love, I want to talk about something that’s actually quite often a topic of conversation, and that’s building a brand that your customers will love.

But what’s not often talked about is that you don’t need a big marketing budget to do it.

I think sometimes we confuse love and money. Think about it. When you want to show someone you love or appreciate them, you buy them a gift. And with Valentine’s Day right in our rear view mirror, can you actually look me in the eye and tell me that the size of the gift doesn’t matter? Would you really get away with a single rose when a dozen is the going rate?

And how about that cubic zirconia? What? Not too many of those in your jewelry box?

And yet there are people who know how to make a gesture worth more than a price tag; who can say “I love you” with a hundred hand cut paper hearts instead of a hundred dollar bottle of wine.

You can apply the same principle to building a brand. There’s the “throw money at the problem” approach and there’s the “perhaps small, but meaningful gesture” approach.

Not only does the second approach yield better results but it’s the only one that yields results.

You can’t buy your customers’ love and loyalty with bigger gifts, deeper discounts, more expensive marketing campaigns or impressive giveaways.

The best you can hope to achieve is that wide eyed “for me?” reaction that you get with a dozen roses. But if the relationship underneath is broken or isn’t strong enough, that reaction wears off pretty quickly.

So if you want happy customers who are in love with your business and yours alone, who would never break up with you even if you charged them full price every single time, you need to focus on the relationship – not the budget.

Even the teeny tiniest shoestring-budget business can build a brand worth falling in love with.

Nurture Your Relationships. Cost: $0

In your personal life, you would never expect your spouse or partner to be satisfied with a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day while being ignored for the other 364 days of the year.

Yet this is how many businesses treat their customers.

How often do you communicate with customers who aren’t immediately contributing to your bottom line? And I don’t mean just in those dull newsletter emails that you consider a “touch point” and send out every other Tuesday.

For big, international brands it’s not practical for them to reach out to customers on an individual level, but I’m talking to you, the small business. The one who can probably tell me exactly who your first customer or email subscriber was, who has “the first dollar you ever made” taped to the wall over your desk, who maybe still does business with your very first customer.

If you’re like me, you don’t do business with all your customers all the time. There are ebbs and flows. Sometimes we work with one or another. There are years-long lapses between engagements with some customers, but they come back when they need our services.

But even though we may not be working with someone doesn’t mean we should forget they exist.

It costs nothing to make a phone call. Or send an email – not just the generic newsletter but a personal email.

Communication builds relationships in a way that gimmicks, discounts and grand gestures can’t.

Stand On Your Values. Cost: $0

You’ve heard the phrase “opposites attract” but that works better for magnets than people. If you love waking up at the crack of dawn but your partner sleeps until noon… if you want ten kids but your partner wants cats… how long do you think you’d last in a situation like that?

In life and in business, like attracts like.

We tend to gravitate toward people with common interests and values; people who validate us and our thinking.

If you want a strong brand then you need strong values.

Why you do what you do; how you do it; your business ethics; your expectations; the way you treat others and expect to be treated in return. These things contribute to the message you’re putting out into the world about your business.

If you’ve defined your business values then customers who share them will gravitate toward you. If you live them every day then those customers will learn to trust you. And that’s what will build the love and loyalty.

It costs nothing to be true to your values and to your business. And you can do that without a fancy brochure or a stunning logo.

Listen. Cost: $0

The word “listen” has been corrupted by social media to mean “listen to what other people are saying about you.”

Or, for smaller companies, “listen to what other people are saying about your type of product or service.”

But this isn’t social media. This is life, and I want you to forget about yourself for a minute. Forget about “your story”.

Focus instead on your customers and what they want, what they think. And not in the context of you!

Listen on a personal level.

If you can’t tell me the names of the kids of at least one of your customers then you’re not listening. If you can’t tell me the last place one of your customers went on vacation, how your customer feels about the last election (yes, even that) or what kind of beer your customer likes with his burger, then you’re not listening.

Listen on a business level.

Stop trying to convince your customer to buy the A Plan or to follow your “three steps to success” and pay attention to what your customer really needs. That may actually require you to stop trying to sell them something. That may, in fact, mean you never get to sell them something, if it isn’t what they really want or need.

It costs nothing to listen. But it can return gratitude, trust, loyalty, positive word of mouth and even more business when your customers feel valued.

Respond. Cost: $0

Recently I received an email in response to a post I wrote about building a website. The sender asked if I’d look at his site and provide constructive criticism.

I sent him back an email and told him I would.

Do you know what he said in his next email?

“Thank you so much for responding. I didn’t expect to hear from anyone.”

It’s sad to think that we’ve come to a point where people no longer expect to be acknowledged and feel grateful for something that should be a common courtesy.

When it comes to your customers, if you’re not responding always and immediately, you’re daring them to break up with you. Unless you’re on vacation, out of the office or in the middle of surgery, you should be returning calls within minutes or hours.

Emails are even more immediate. A few hours before an email response can feel like forever.

Being responsive also includes prioritizing your customers’ needs. When someone asks you to do something, do it. Don’t have your PA call their PA and schedule a time to talk about scheduling a meeting to talk about getting the job done.

Surprise your customers by getting things done quickly. I promise you won’t lose any friends if you say you’ll have something done by Friday and deliver it on Thursday instead.

It costs nothing to be attentive, timely, considerate and responsive. And you don’t need any social media training or expensive CRM systems to do it.

It takes a lot to build a brand that people will love and it won’t happen overnight. It can take years of building trust one returned phone call at a time. But you can do it without a dozen roses or a million dollar Superbowl ad. You can do it without the finest linen business cards. You can do it without a single eBook or webinar or chocolate tower of gifts.

Unless you want to send me a chocolate tower of gifts… then I’ll be your friend for life. I swear.

What do you think? Can you think of any other ways a brand could get some love? Let me know what makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when you do business with someone.

P.S. Show some love for Evan Austin, the awesome and talented graphic artist behind the illustration at the top of this post. I handed the post to him and said “draw it”. And he did. (It’s worth a second look because the message is pretty darn perfect.)

This post is part of the February 2013 Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Melanie Kissell

    As someone who stands proudly on the shoestring marketing soapbox, Carol Lynn, your post rates right up there with dark chocolate! (And if someone sent me a tower of it, I’d be their friend for life) 😉

    ” … I want you to forget about yourself for a minute. Forget about “your story”.” Whew! I’ve been waiting for what seems like half a lifetime to hear somebody say that. Thank you. I can finally exhale. You know as well as I do, when you’re in a relationship with someone (in this case, your customer or client), and you want that relationship to flourish …

    You need to let the other guy talk!! In other words, don’t monopolize the conversation.

    I get SO tired of hearing the ever-popular biz-building tip to “tell your story”. I don’t want to tell my story! Heck, I don’t even like talking about myself. I want to tell the other guy’s story … especially if it’s a good one.

    I loved every line in your post but this one is my favorite:

    “Communication builds relationships in a way that gimmicks, discounts and grand gestures can’t.” Truth is, communication is EVERYTHING in life (and business).

    Thanks for a truly lovely post! 🙂

    • I sense a whole new blog post percolating around “stop telling your story”. I get it, but it’s so overrated in terms of how to get customers to work with you or be loyal to you. It’s a nice relationship builder, sure, but to your very precise point: you’ve got to let the other person talk! In fact, that’s the first rule of dating, lol… let your date talk about themselves. People like you more for how you make them feel than for how cool your story is.

      You can get away without a brilliant marketing plan if your focus is on customers. In fact…. dare I say it… we have done very little marketing for our company. A little bit here and there but we survive on word of mouth and referrals from happy people.

      And yes, Evan is pretty awesome 🙂

    • I try to tell A story, one that’s fun to read as well as relevant to my audience. Often it pulls real world examples that don’t involve me. So count me in on the it’s not necessary to tell your personal story group.

  • Melanie Kissell

    P.S. Isn’t that Evan Austin graphic designer guy somethin’ else?! LOVE the image he created for your post!!

  • Great post Carol Lynn. I recently read several articles on productivity, organizing your workday etc. and they all stated that you should only check and respond to your email once or twice a day. Personally i thought this was a terrible idea. Sure, checking your email frequently may make you a little less productive but it’s called customer service for a reason right?

    I was so happy to read your thoughts on the subject. -‘When it comes to your customers, if you’re not responding always and immediately, you’re daring them to break up with you… Emails are even more immediate. A few hours before an email response can feel like forever.’

    I think your line ‘you’re daring them to break up with you’ sums it up perfectly.

    Thank you for your insights and for reminding me that advice is only useful if implementing it allows you to remain true to your values and to your business.

    • I know exactly what you mean about the productivity tips that tell you not to check email – I’ve probably given some of that advice 🙂

      Sometimes you do have to go MIA for a little while (a whole day!) but on the whole, if you’re not responding to people in a timely way then they are going to develop all sorts of unpleasant perceptions about how you do business. We’re not all Dan Kennedy – some of us have to actually be present and yes, answer emails every five minutes!

      People’s expectations have shifted to a much more immediate response. Back in the day, we all might submit a web form then wait a day or two… but not anymore. Now we expect an answer within 24 hours on the outside, and within a few hours if that company cares about our business.

      I’ve had people who, half an hour after sending me an email, will send a follow up that says, “HELLO??? Anyone there??” I know we can’t always be on call but like I said, you need a good track record of responding!

      You also made a great point: advice is only useful if it allows you to remain true to your values and to your business. There will never be a shortage of advice. It’s our job to figure out which works for us!

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts!

  • This. Was. Perfect. (Including evan’s illustration!) I couldn’t have said any of it better myself. If folks would just focus on these 4 key areas, they’d get so much further. And as you pointed out, “it won’t happen overnight.” There’s no silver bullet or instant gratification, just being real.

    • Don’t you love that drawing? He did a whole mini infographic.

      I know your mantra about customers and “slow marketing”! I think people would rather spend money on some sort of campaign then wait for the sales rather than put the extended time and effort into building a business one happy customer at a time. In a way “marketing” has become something we can hide behind. Guess we’ll just have to change the world 🙂

  • A lot of this is about common courtesy – if we treated our customers like we treated our nearest and dearest – there’d be a lot more happy customers around. Good tips, Carol Lynn.

    • You’re right, Sharon, but how many people forget that? Common sense isn’t always so common. I think we all need a reminder now and then that we need to treat others at least as well as we want to be treated ourselves!

  • Donna Merrill

    Hey Carol,
    I love the analogy about Valentines day and a dozen roses! When we have a customer/client it is all about the relationship! I like the way that man was surprised that you answered his email.
    That often happens to me too. Even with potential customers. It is building relationships and we hear that over and over again. But the difference is, like love relationships is the kind of relationship we build.
    Relationships mean being empathetic. If we lack empathy, it is like the guy who brings you roses on V day and ignores you the rest of the year. It is worthless. So what happens to that relationship? It fizzles out.
    On the other hand, if we are empathetic, and value our customers, treating them with honor, respect and are aware of their needs, now that is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

    My off line business that I have for 30 years was built on this foundation. I never advertised a day but it was all word of mouth which made it strong. To this day, I receive calls from people saying someone referred me.
    And this is what we need on our on line business. We need to have integrity and strong ethics. We must tell it like it is and always be in touch with our customers.
    I loved this post!
    Donna

    • You made a great point, Donna – we definitely need empathy. That’s what builds the relationships and keeps us connected. When people feel valued they stick around. We have a similar business – word of mouth has always been the biggest driver for us. We do a little marketing here and there but not much. But paying attention to existing customers is important too. We can’t just forget they exist once they signed on the dotted line. Even during periods when they aren’t doing work with us, we need to be in touch. I’m so glad you liked the post!

  • Some really timely and classic stuff in here, Carol.

    I think systems are a necessary component to doing most of these things, especially for growing small businesses – those that no longer have the creators at the helm of social media and marketing and customer support.

    So when it comes down to what these things cost, they really do cost something, in terms of time and attention (the other two currencies we have as entrepreneurs). Throw money at the problems that don’t require your attention is my general rule.

    When problems DO crop up that require your attention, give them the time they deserve to rectify, but throwing money at ’em will only be a waste of resources.

    In all, some fantastic points and a must-read for all small business owners! 😀

    • There is that conundrum, Nick – your time is always money. But it’s something most of us can spend because we have it. A limited amount, yes, but it’s still ours and we can choose to use it wisely or we can choose to waste it.

      I bet if you have a process and system for what you do, you can communicate with customers much more efficiently and effectively. I agree – we have to know when to spend time and when to spend money. A nice balance will do!

  • I like that you use a custom graphic in this most excellent post. I do get a little tired of seeing the same freebie images on posts that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and your’s was so fitting and younique.

    Evan’s work is very nice, and I have saved a link to him for future possibilities. Beyond your well-written post, I also had to say that I like that your subscribe now box didn’t come up until I had actually spent a few minutes here and had already decided it might be worthy of subscribing. I know the experts say you gotta have that thing front and center, but once you do subscribe I find it very irritating that it keeps coming up. It takes very little code to save a cookie that blocks it from coming up if you’ve already subscribed or said No thanks. Just one more way to listen to your peeps.

    • Wow, you made some great points and I appreciate your input. First of all, Evan is great. I know what you mean about the generic photos. I hate having to use them but sometimes it’s the least expensive and simplest option.

      What you said about the popup is good to know. I go back and forth on using it because I don’t like them but they do work. So its a catch-22! I also recently set it to pop up toward the end of the post for exactly the reason you said – I thought it would give someone time to read and see if they liked the content before asking them to sign up. It’s also set to only pop up once every 60 days (based on a cookie) because every time is super annoying!

      I like to forget what the experts say and do what works 🙂

      Please share your thoughts any time, I am happy to change things to improve!

  • Dee Ann Rice

    Carol,

    I like how you compare building a relationship with customers or clients to building a personal relationship.

    It really is the same thing. I think if more people would look relating to customers as relationships they would give a lot better service and have a lot more returning customers.

    I really think that relationship building is where it is at for most anything you do in life.

    Great post.

    Dee Ann

    • Smart people know that relationships matter! And the way to a good relationship is by communicating, valuing your customers and delivering what you promise. It’s not a whole lot more complicated. I’m glad you enjoyed my post 🙂

  • Sandy McDonald

    I second Melanie, this is a beautiful post. Beautifully realised from Evan’s ‘I get it immediately’ illustration to the notion that if you’re not tracking well on all four points you’re daring your customers to break up with you. As small businesses in service, we do get ourselves into a space on occasion where we start to self sabotage. In your words, dare our clients to break up with us. And perhaps that is a topic for another post!

    In a recent seminar, the expert said telling a customer immediately that you could solve their problem was disrespectful. He explained that often when a customer says they’re not happy with their website for example, when you listen long enough and with enough empathy as Donna suggested, you’ll find that isn’t the real problem at all. It is only a symptom. So if you plunge in with a resolution, all you’re trying to do is effect a sale. If you kept listening, maybe you could help them at a different level, or maybe you would know someone better equipped than you to refer. It was a really salient lesson and one that you have illustrated so well with this post. Thank you Carol Lynn.

    • Thank you Sandy! I literally had a conversation today with someone who said “I need a Facebook page, can you do it for me?” And I could’ve taken the money and run (tempting, oh how tempting) but I asked them why they want it – what they’re doing – and in the end I told them they don’t need a Facebook page! So to your point, you can’t jump in with a solution to a problem that you don’t even know exists.

      And really, you have to love the drawing!

  • Can I just say amen and hallelujah Carol! Okay, you KNOW I’m doing the happy dance on this post because boy do I ever agree with what you’re sharing. You know I’ve been preaching about having relationships with your readers, your prospects and your subscribers for way too long. Huh, I wonder why that is.

    It’s really sad but I often times get the same response when I respond to an email or I call them. They’re shocked and that makes me so sad. As I like to put it to them, well if I don’t respond or call then someone eventually will and that will be the person you keep going back to time and time again.

    It’s true, get to know your customers, have a relationship with them. They will appreciate that you took the time to get to know them, their needs and what they want. That will go so much further then that big old bouquet of roses once a year when you’ve been ignoring them all year long. Yeah, I know who I’d stick with.

    Great share Carol, great share.

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks, Adrienne! Coming from the queen of relationships that’s quite a compliment! I’ve had more than one person who said they were surprised to get a response and that’s just crazy! Can you imagine not answering people who get in touch?

      You’re right, people will go elsewhere. So why would we want to let them? Start getting to know people, find out what they really need and you’re already halfway there!

  • clarestweets

    Really struck me that your commentor did not expect to hear back from someone. Being attentive and timely is so important and so often forgotten. Thanks Carol Lynn!

    • I know, that actually surprised me. I guess I didn’t expect that anyone would NOT expect someone to answer! Goes to show, a little attention goes a long way.

      • clarestweets

        Absolutely!

  • Hi Carol,

    Lost of good nuggets here.

    First thing I like how you compare a couple that would ignore each other for 364 days and give roses on Valentines. That would be crazy, right? Yet, it’s so true with lots of companies do just that. They ignore their clients/customers all year round and then try to show them something as a pretending gift for Christmas season to look good.

    Yes, that’s right opposite attract opposite for magnets more than people. People are more like “birds of the same feathers flock together”. That makes more sense in marriage and in business.

    Wow, I’m so glad you responded to this guy. It made me feel good. He must have been overjoyed and you gave him faith in your business, I can tell you that! Yes, it’s sad that people expect not to be responded too. Very sad, but true.

    • hat’s exactly what I mean, Sylviane. Sometimes I get Christmas cards from companies that i can’t even remember who they are! I don’t think I’m going to do business with them just because of a yearly card.

      I respond to everyone who contacts me – even some I should probably ignore! There’s no reason to completely ignore someone, really. Even if you just send a short and generic response, people should be acknowledged.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  • Hi Carol
    I have to share my valentine’s day story with my hubby. It is summer in Australia and we had a very harsh summer. So our roses are not doing so well. My husband buys me roses usually. I had said to him not to this year as they will not last a day. But he went and bought me just 1 🙂 It died the day after and the 1 meant said a lot to me because he in his mind had to do something. But we have a wonderful relationship

    So now to the business of course the same applies. It is all about relationships. I cringed when I read that someone is amazed when someone answers an email.

    I love how you have pointed out that most of the things we should all be doing to build a business has very little if any cost.

    I go back every time I get great service but I sure as heck do not when I get ignored.

    An awesome post thanks Carol.

    Sue

    • That was very sweet of your husband – it goes to show that it’s the gesture that counts. He did something meaningful and not just “for show”. That’s how you show appreciation! And yes, same thing for customers. Give a little every day and not just a “grand gesture” once a year. It will make a difference. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Michelle Nickolaisen

    This is a FANTASTIC post Carol! I love the tips you give and when I look at the kinds of activities that have got me really good results with my marketing, they definitely fall into these categories. One of the things I’ve started doing the last few months is sending email subscribers a non-automatic email saying “Thanks for signing up, here’s the last newsletter!” and letting them know about any time-sensitive deals I have going at the moment. I was honestly a little afraid people would think it was too self-promotional, but I’ve got a REALLY good response from it – people have written back to say thank you for the awesome service and I’ve even got Twitter shout-outs for it, too.

    • So you’re the proof in the pudding, Michelle 🙂 I like the non-automated idea. I’ve been arguing with myself over that recently, too. I want to get back into the non-automated game, I just want to plan how to do it so people don’t think I’m a nut job invading their email box! But you’re right, people do appreciate the one-on-one.

  • Awesome post Carol. Loved it! Describing each thing that is required for building relationships with people and how it cost us $0. Very profound. Great, great, great points. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thanks Barbara. Building a relationship takes time and effort but we don’t have to be hung up on marketing budget to do it!

  • Before diving into the business stuff, I have to say I honestly DO love a heartfelt, handwritten note over jewelry (yes even diamonds!). My husband and 4 y.o. daughter made one together for me. Now that is something I’ll treasure.

    Ok on to biz! Being a numbers person I’m always looking at the bottom line. I love the zero cost (although remember time IS money) from your bank account. I would add the bottom line result -> priceless.

    For me the idea of community and doing something without actively expecting a return is important. I try to support other businesses who share my values (there’s that like attracts like). While I believe if they succeed we are all richer, it’s also just part of my inherent ethic.

    Awesome post Carol Lynn!

    • That’s the best kind of “I love you” – the stuff that doesn’t come from your wallet. And it’s the stuff you keep and treasure for sure. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I was recently talking to my grandmother who is 94 and has Alzheimer’s so she is often confused and forgetful – but she remembers with clarity this little bouquet of hand-sewn flowers I had made for her once. So that goes to show how those things stick.

      And then on the biz side… our customers are people too! And they appreciate the same thoughtfulness. Yes, time is money but it’s the one thing we have – even in finite amounts. And the fact that it is finite is what makes it even more precious when it’s shared.

  • Gladys Cruz

    Hi Carol
    This is my first time on your site. I found your site through Adrienne’s post. She is super and a people connector.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. What a message you are sending, loud and clear.
    As I was studying for my certification in Life Coaching, one area our professor continued to tell us if we want to secure clients in our business, then you have to build relationships. I have found myself donation my services “just because”. Our intent should be to help others and then the ($) would come.
    I value relationships without the dollar sign. Now we all know money is an commodity, and it comes and goes, but RELATIONSHIPS they matter.
    Thank you for your wonderful post

    • Hi Gladys,

      I think my reply got eaten! I responded and then it disappeared. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, I’m glad you did and thanks to Adrienne who sure knows how to connect people!

      We as business people need to find that balance between making money and providing extra “above and beyond” value. If we can build a good relationship and over-deliver, then our customers will keep coming back!

  • Hi Carol Lynn

    How true about being personal with your customers. We had a house we sold and went through an agent. When we had a question and a concern he met us at the house that day. They provided staging for free. He mails out a newsletter every month, with a contest and gives out dinners, etc. Each Christmas he sends a $5 Starbucks card to everyone. If you want a service done on your house, he will recommend good people. He doesn’t limit it to people who he is working with at the time. Now he is giving away canvas bags for groceries (we can no longer get free bags in grocery stores in our county). Even with this down economy he and his team have sold more houses than anyone in the area. He won I believe 5 awards last year. Guess who I will list my house with when I get ready to sell. I recommend him to anyone buying or selling a house. He definitely knows what you are saying here.

    Mary

    • Wow, that sounds like a guy who knows how to take care of his customers! Sounds like he’s got great word of mouth going, and no wonder. I want to sell a house just to get on his list 🙂

      Being attentive like that is what it’s all about. And obviously its working! Thanks for sharing that story.

  • Great post Carol… the bottom line is to branding yourself you want to be genuinely interested in your customer more so than buttering them up to make a sale. It sad that a lot of small business and home business entrepreneurs send those “flowers” but yet have no type of rapport or relationship with their customers. This is why so many fail.

    This reminds me of the story of two doctors. One doctor gets sued all the time, while the other one doesn’t. The difference between the two was their relationships with their patient. One was more personal and welcoming while the either one just wanted a paycheck. You can figure out the one that was getting sued. Thanks for sharing!

    • Interesting story, Sherman… I think we are a lot more forgiving when people make mistakes if we already have that relationship established. Flowers are nice but only if they’re part of a bigger picture of respect. Thanks for sharing!

  • Barry Overstreet

    Hi Carol,

    What a great post! You’ve nailed so many pieces of the puzzle here that it’s hard to keep track.

    But, the one that really resonates with me because it’s something I truly believe in, is turning the focus away from us as business owners and on to our customers. So many people get caught up in the “look at me” mentality and they have no idea what their customers’ problems are or what their wants are.

    As you mentioned, it’s all very sad. You would wonder how these types of businesses get opened, or stay open, but when you look around, there’s so many of them that you start to feel that we’re actually in the minority. And that’s why people are surprised when you TRULY place value in their time and needs.

    Thanks for sharing! I hopped over here from Adrienne’s when she mentioned you. I hope you have an outstanding weekend!

    ~Barry

    • Thanks Barry, I’m glad you stopped by and that Adrienne was kind enough to list my blog on her roundup. You’re right, there are sooo many businesses that seem to just exist…. but how?? They don’t pay attention, their service isn’t great. But perhaps we’re used to it? We’ve learned to expect a whole lot of “not much”. The good news for people who DO care is that they’re going to stand out in a crowd and people are going to gravitate toward them and do business with them. It doesn’t take a brilliant marketing plan to simply be responsive and connect with your customers!

      You have a great weekend too 🙂

  • Very useful information! The clever illustration by Evan Austin is perfect. (I found this post through Andrienne’s Smith’s post. Love the ‘domino’ effect of social media.). Thanks for sharing this! Enjoy your day. ~~~Vickie

    • Thanks Vickie – I like that, the “domino effect.” How true! I’m glad you stopped by!

  • Hi Carol Lynn,

    Wow, what an excellent post about relationships! I don’t want to copy Melanie Kissell for her comments, but I too feel the same way. I was so relieved to hear you say Forget about “your story.” I’ve been told over and over and over to share “my story.” The belief is if we share “our story,” then people who were or are in our situation can relate to us, and will be attracted to us. I don’t know about that. I think this approach interferes with paying attention to what other people need and want. Quite frankly, I’m getting tired of hearing about the “my story” scenarios out there. Most of them are depressing, sad, and negative. If I share a sad, depressing, or negative story, I’m not sure if I want to attract the people who relate to that type of story. However, there is a flip side. There are many inspirational stories about people who have overcome great obstacles and it shows if someone else did it, then you can too. I suppose that is the reasoning which could help other people.

    I receive emails all the time from people asking for guidance and I always respond. If I cannot help, then I send them in the right direction. You are right. They are so appreciative because they don’t expect someone to actually answer! I know I appreciate a response, so it’s all about treating others as you would like to be treated.

    It takes a lot of time to build a brand and it’s nice to know we can share the love and spend $0. Thanks! Great tips!

    Raena Lynn

    • Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hi Raena,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m really glad you liked this!

      I know what you mean about the negative stories. If there is something to be learned then that’s a good thing, but if it’s just complaining, that is not only depressing but it’s bad marketing.

      It’s important to listen to our customers’ stories – that’s how we get to know them, what they need and how we can best help them.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’m glad you stopped by!