The easiest small business marketing tool

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get lots of gifts, likes, accolades, and support when others don’t? Sure, there are a variety of reason’s but one is something everyone can do. Morrie, my canine companion, helped me see this more clearly recently. What I learned is showing appreciation can be the easiest small business marketing tool to use. Sometimes, though, it takes work.

While many who’ve seen me at business events may not recognize this, I rank pretty high on the introvert scale. Introverts tend to be more subdued than their extrovert counterparts. That can make exuberant responses feel unnatural.

I didn’t notice this as a kid, but my sister has always been much better at receiving gifts than I am. For every gift she gets, her reaction is loud, excited, and emotional. Mine’s not. I send thoughtful thank you cards to express my appreciation. My sister gets a lot more gifts.

I worry about bringing attention to myself. My sister also probably experiences feelings differently than I do. I didn’t figure my subdued responses needed work until relatively recently.

Lessons in appreciation from a mutt

About four years ago, I found Morrie. He was an 8-week-old pup I first fostered, then adopted from the Roanoke County SPCA. Morrie is over-the-top about everything. He makes friends he knows feel special as he wiggles and bounces and cries out in his excitement when they approach – or appear in the distance.

A couple of years ago I started buying toys and treats from Chewy. Any time one of those boxes arrives Morrie’s walking on his hind legs to sniff it (he’s decided he’s not doing the forbidden jumping thing if he doesn’t touch you). His excitement is unending.

the easiest small business marketing tool can be learned from a dog
This is what Morrie does with a new toy. I’m no longer bothered by him tearing them apart.

Those boxes must be opened quickly as Morrie emotes he wants to see what’s inside NOW. For every toy or treat I pull out of the bag, he reacts with “This is the best thing ever.” His helicopter tail gets going as he takes the gift with glee. Throughout the having it process, he looks at me, thumps his tail, and says thank you over and over again. He makes me feel special about giving him a gift.

Even though his idea of fun often means tearing the stuffing out of a soft toy in minutes, I no longer mind what used to seem like wasted money. What I’ve learned is the appreciation he shows makes me feel good enough to want to see it again and again.

Small business owners can get more with thanks

Reflecting on Morrie’s behavior made me become more aware of how I was responding to people. Clients who were complimentary and appreciative got a lot more of my time for less. Vendors that were easy and fun to work with got more referrals. Suppliers who made it easy for me to reach them and resolve issues got more of my business. Granted, gratitude is an overused term these days, but it really does matter how you make people feel.

I recently had a young book ghostwriting client who made it a point in every chapter edit, every conversation, and every email to say something positive about the work I had done. Usually, those paying for this service focus exclusively on edits and comments pointing out what didn’t work for them, in other words, what they wanted me to fix. That always made sense. After all, they’re paying good money for me to do a job where their critical comments are most important to get the desired end result.

Working with this gal, though, made me feel great about the work, tackling unexpected challenges, and moving other clients around to better accommodate her schedule. That affected what I was willing to do for no additional charge. It was my pleasure to do more for less to help her, my new friend. Working with people who get specific about how they appreciate what you do changes how you operate.

What can you do to shine brighter?

These days, I’m trying a lot harder to see and communicate what I appreciate in the work of others. Whether that’s book content that’s special, vendors who perform above expectations, companies I buy from who go out of their way, or marketing clients who make my day, acknowledging what makes each exceptional has transformed my world.

People do more for those who make them feel special. Sure, you’re paying someone for a contracted product, service, or deliverable they owe you, but making them feel better about who they are and what they do often changes what you get.

Sometimes getting creative works too

Maybe I’m not completely OK with seeing Morrie frequently destroy expensive toys. I keep an eye out for bargains. One of the local Kroger’s discounts Christmas dog toys as much as 90% after the holiday. I buy a bunch at the end of December and put them away to give to Morrie throughout the year.

Chewy frequently offers deep discounts or buy one get one on toys. If I need to get my order up to $49 for free shipping, I’ll buy a few then. In fact, I’ve even found some he doesn’t make into quick carcasses. Big plus.

My greatest discovery, though, was a free gift he anticipates weekly with glee. Morrie relishes screwing off the cap, licking out remaining milk droplets, chewing it up, tossing it around, and asking me to join him in a good game of tug. We argue over who gets the handle. The easiest small business marketing tool I’ve found is showing appreciation, but you might find another that’s free with a bit of creativity.

Getting creative can provide free solutions for effective marketing - and dog toys

I doubt I’ll ever be as effusive as Morrie in his love of life, but he provides a good daily example to be better. Do you have someone or something you can tap as a model? Sometimes simply watching others who express appreciation artfully can be a great daily reminder and guide.

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