I received a Money Tree today.
There I was, in the middle of our weekly Company meeting, when a package arrived from a well-known flower company. I ignored it until lunchtime and then quietly took it to my office to open in private (since I was not expecting any such delivery). I unwrapped the package slowly, revealing three separate pieces and trying to understand what type of plant I was receiving – and why. After making quite the mess of my office attempting to put it together, reading the enclosed instructional pamphlet (what? you think everyone just knows how to keep a plant alive?) and tearing the card off of the package, I realized what it really was: a thoughtful and creative marketing idea. A money tree, from a partner I just started working with.
Why didn’t I think of that?
Which made me wonder: Am I doing enough to attract potential clients? Do I think out-of-the-box when it comes to showing appreciation for business partners? Luckily, at Brain Host, we do a lot to keep our customers, affiliates and partners happy. We strive to come up with creative ideas for contest prizes and interesting emails to keep engagement levels high. But no matter how great we are, there is always room for improvement. In case you are pondering your own success and creativity in this area, here is my advice:
1. Treat your business like a person.
Get to know your clients – what they like, what they don’t like and what they’re interested in. Pay attention to the details and act accordingly. If there is even a small part of someone that you can relate to, focus on that common ground and make it clear that you are paying attention to them as a person rather than just a number. I received a great email from another partner earlier this week where he explained that he wanted to discuss what had worked, what hadn’t and what makes me tick, and so on. It resulted in a nice, well rounded conversation and I feel comfortable that he clearly understands my vision and how I operate.
2. Be funny; be engaging.
Work is stressful. Even if you love your job, the long hours and consistent dedication will eventually add up and take its toll. Take a moment to be slightly humorous or quirky (while remaining tasteful) and it will not be forgotten. We recently gave a contest winner a Chicken Foot Stool as a prize. I found it hilarious, the winner found it interesting, and some may have found it just plain outrageous, but everyone is still talking about it. Win!
3. Balance friendly with professional.
Ultimately we are all in business together to make money. Your interaction with a client or partner does not have to avoid that fact – you can be funny, engaging, and personable without straying from the point. That’s why a money tree is so creative, because it showed that this person was thoughtful enough to send a gift, but focused enough to deliver her message clearly: “Here’s to making money together”.
More than anything, I strongly encourage that you stay true to your personality when it comes to work relationships. If you’re expressive, you are more likely to do over-the-top or unexpected things. If you are analytical or reserved, you’re more likely to make your point modestly but clearly. Either way, any effort you make to go above and beyond a phone call or email is bound to make a lasting impression – and sending a living thing certainly doesn’t hurt.
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