What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I drop the word ‘gratitude’? Maybe you think that gratitude is something you do once a year at Thanksgiving. Or maybe you think that gratitude is something you do after business hours, like writing in your gratitude journal before bed. Well, babe… if that’s the case then you’re missing out.
Gratitude does have a place in business. In fact, it’s the one crucial business strategy you’re missing out on. Here’s why…
Gratitude Should be Your #1 Business Strategy
Now, if you’re the kind of business owner that sees their customers simply as walking wallets, this blog post is not for you. It’s best if we break up. Hint: it’s not me, it’s you.
Having gratitude as a business strategy means putting people before money. It means consistently thanking and celebrating your clients, customers, and community. Gratitude should be the cornerstone of your business. Make gratitude part of your mission and brand values, let it be the heart of your company culture, and incorporate it into your communication style.
I realize that online businesses need to make moolah to stay in business, but celebration and gratitude will come right back at you when you consistently celebrate your clients, customers, and community. Gratitude breeds gratitude. There are a number of reasons why the ‘people first, money follows’ formula works.
1. Gratitude Draws People In
Gratitude is something that’s nearly impossible to fake. If you express gratitude, then you’re authentic by default. This authenticity draws people in. Nobody likes a Debby Downer, so seeing a positive outlook sparks an interest. People will want to see more and figure out what it is that you can help them with.
2. Gratitude Fosters Connection
People want to be noticed and appreciated as much as you want your business to be. It makes your community feel good when a business they support supports them back. When they feel that emotional connection to your business, it encourages loyalty, which usually results in future sales.
3. Gratitude Humanizes Your Business
When you show your gratitude, it lets your community see that there’s a person behind the business plan. It shows that you have a heart (and know how to use it!). When people feel seen and valued by a real person, not just used for profit by a faceless corporation, they are more likely to work with you again or purchase more products.
How to implement gratitude as a strategy
Physical shop owners can meet their customers face-to-face, shake their hands and personally thank them for their purchases. Online businesses owners need to find more creative ways to show gratitude and celebrate all the amazing people who contribute to their business. Here are a few ideas, all of which you can totally steal.
Just as gratitude fosters a connection with your community, it creates a connection with your employees and contractors as well. Throw a (virtual) Christmas party. Praise those team members who go the extra mile for your business. Send them Valentine’s Day presents. Make sure that showing gratitude and celebrating achievements is part of your team meetings and your annual performance review. Celebrate the wahoo out of your employees and and they’ll never want to work for anyone else.
Did you love working on a certain project with a fellow business owner? Were you featured on a podcast? Did you host a joint venture webinar with your dream collaborator? Send those people a thank you note or a small gift to let them know how much you loved working together. Buy them a cup of their favorite coffee when you happen to meet up at a conference. And why not leave a stellar review on iTunes for that podcast?
Clients and Customers
If a customer needs to wait a few weeks until the start of your project or until a new product is released, send them a Starbucks or Anthropologie gift card to help bridge the gap and to let them know you’re excited about working together.
Wrapping up client projects is the moment to show clients your appreciation. Add a personalized message to your ‘goodbye packet’. If you sell physical products, include a heartfelt thank you card before shipping out the product.
A great way to show clients and customers that you care about them is to follow up with them and check in on how they’re doing. It can be something as simple as a short, nice email letting them know you’re thinking about them and encouraging them to reach out if they have any questions.
Thank your clients or customers publicly — on social media or in your newsletter — for saying nice things about you and your services or products. This is the moment to really celebrate that person and put him or her in the spotlight.
Once a year, send a handwritten card to the clients you worked with that year telling them how much you’ve appreciated working with them. As much as we all say we love digital, everyone enjoys getting snail mail (that isn’t a bill!). If you sell products, take a picture of your handwritten thank you note and email that picture to all of the lovely people who purchased from you that year.
Gratitude can even help you deal with nightmare clients. The thing about gratitude is that it softens just about any message you give or receive. For example, “Thank you so much for wanting to work with me, but I’m not sure we’re a good fit.” or, “I’m very grateful that you’ve thought of me to help you with XYZ, but the timeline isn’t convenient for me right now.” Gratitude helps you say no in a kinder and more gentle way.
Get as excited about the successes of your community — visitors, readers, followers, subscribers, members of your Facebook group — as you are about your own. Do a gratitude challenge with your community on Instagram or in your Facebook group. Host a giveaway as a means to express gratitude to your loyal followers. Let your community in on special opportunities, like a meet and greet or an exclusive discount.
Small gestures go a long way, so always take the time to respond to blog comments and mentions on social media. Hop on Skype calls with people in your community. Do #followfriday shoutouts. Engage in conversation with someone who always leaves thoughtful responses on your Instagram feed and retweets your messages.
The key here is to share your gratitude with your community and tell them what they mean to you.
Your Personal Growth as a Business Owner
Don’t forget to show gratitude to yourself for rocking it as a business owner too! Gratitude will help you grow, both as a person and as an online biz superstar.
It’s important to practice gratitude to stay grounded through the ups and downs of business. It helps to keep things in perspective when you’re stressing out about your neverending to-do list.
Need help focusing on what’s important and not obsessing over what isn’t? Practicing gratitude helps you hone in on what’s important to you. It's so easy to follow outside voices, get sucked into perfectionism, and get swept away in society's view of success, but gratitude will help you figure out what your version of success looks like. It lets you channel your ambition to where it matters the most to you. It helps you find purpose and slay the goals you've set for yourself.
There are many more ways to incorporate gratitude into your business. I hope I’ve inspired you with these creative ideas. Gratitude strengthens the reputation of your brand and business, so be prepared for hordes of raving fans to come your way.