Instead of showing appreciation exclusively during the holidays, some businesses are building it into their day-to-day and reaping business benefits on account of it.
When Kristina Bouweiri started hosting customer appreciation lunches in 2009, she thought she was just helping a friend boost her lagging business.
Little did she know that the lunches, which have been held in posh restaurants around Washington, D.C. like The Palm and Capital Grille, would introduce her to almost 900 of her clients, giving her own business a jolt.
Bouweiri’s unexpected success is testament to the power of appreciation and gratitude in business.
“Instead of going after new business, we decided to go back to old clients and thank them, and develop relationships,” she says. For almost 20 years, her company Reston Limousine had done little or nothing to thank its almost 20,000 clients. Now, says Bouweiri, “I consider it the most important initiative that I have.”
As opposed to showing appreciation one day a year — at Thanksgiving or New Year’s or in an annual customer appreciation sale — some businesses are building it into their daily and weekly plans and policies. And they are seeing the benefits to this approach: Workers are often more engaged when they feel appreciated and customers are more likely to come back and give referrals.
“Gratitude motivates positive reciprocal behavior,” says Randy Raggio, a marketing professor at the University of Richmond. If a customer believes that a business has his best interests at heart, that customer is more inclined to develop a long-term relationship with the business.
Raggio first grew interested in gratitude in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when the state of Louisiana ran a thank-you-for donations campaign. Many people who saw the campaign were more likely to donate or volunteer in the future, according to his research, even those who had not previously participated in that particular campaign.
A business might show their appreciation by having private sales for their best customers, by offering a few chocolates with the bill, or simply by saying thanks for your business. It needs to be genuine and it’s better if it’s not open to all.
Customer appreciation, Raggio says, usually comes in the form referring a friend, writing a positive review online, or perhaps a willingness to pay more later on.
For years, Susan Whitcomb says she has made good use of gratitude at her Fresno, Calif.-based leadership coaching business, The Academies. This year, she decided she would write a list of “10 things I’m grateful about you” for each of her four staffers, which she says she’ll give to them just before Thanksgiving. One of the notes acknowledges a colleague’s “courage to stretch,” learn to make sales calls, manage others, and her “commitment to make me look good.”
While she admits that she cannot quantify how that has helped her businesses, Whitcomb says she knows it has helped during the recession’s slowest months.
Gratitude is an effective tool largely because “it is a precursor to develop trust,” says Betsy Bugg Holloway, a marketing professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Al. And trust itself is an extremely powerful driver for loyalty, no matter the type of relationship. Just the same, gratitude is only valuable when it comes across as genuine.
“It’s not meant to be any magical formula for wealth,” says John Kralik, author of A Simple Act of Gratitude. He started writing notes in 2008, as his life and law firm were both suffering. His firm was losing money and had lost its office lease. “I was very embarrassed that I couldn’t provide the Christmas bonuses that I had always provided to my employees,” he recalls.
So he wrote appreciation notes to his staff, and sent similar notes to clients who paid their bills on time. He wrote to his children, his friends, and to lawyers who sent a client his way. Kralik says one of the lawyers wrote back to him, saying that he had no idea Kralik would want a client like that. “If you like one, I have 10 more,” the lawyer wrote.
He sees the link between the thank-you notes and his business thriving again. “As you take care of the paying clients, they pay even faster. They value you,” he says. One client’s timely check allowed his firm to relocate and pay the new rent. Others brought him more business. “When you’re feeling especially crummy, it’s a good time to sit down and write about 10 thank-you notes,” Kralik says.
Heidi Kallett had been sending out thank-you notes, but she was looking for another way to keep her stationery and gifts stores, The Dandelion Patch, going. So she and her friend, the limousine company owner, came up with what they thought would be a one-time client appreciation lunch, and invited administrative assistants at the companies that used the limousine company.
The lunches work especially well because assistants are hardly invited to special meals but often watch their bosses head off to a fancy business lunch.
“We don’t sell anything. It’s very low key. We just stand up and introduce ourselves for two minutes,” says Kallett. Then they give away door prizes and swag bags.
Bouweiri came up with a dozen other local business owners who also would be interested in meeting her clients; these partners and others now sponsor the event – and serve as “ambassadors” for the limo company in their circles.
The appreciation lunches have paid off: Last year, revenues at the company increased by 27%, mostly as a result, she says, of the client appreciation lunches, which are held about 10 times a year. Even when she raised rates 10% and added a fuel surcharge in September 2009, “customers were not batting an eyelash. We’ve created long-term lasting relationships,” she says.
“I came up with this idea because I was trying to help Heidi — and I ended up helping myself.”
People don’t buy so much as your product or service they can get that from anyone and anywhere they buy more of you and your belief.
If you really love your product or service and you really care about the people that you are sharing it with that comes across to others.
And if you don’t and I are just trying to make that next dollar that also comes across to others you are presenting to.
In this week’s Relationship Marketing Weekly: 24 year web design & marketing consultant Laurie Delk started incorporating a relationship marketing strategy in her personal business from day 1. However 13 years ago, she was introduced to a system that not only saved her time and money, it allowed her to share her same philosophy and strategies with all her clients which allowed them to have the same results in their business. Her story will not only amaze you, but will touch your heart.. She’s one in a million!
Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody Bateman, Relationship Marketing Weekly. We are really excited for our show today. I can’t wait to jump into this interview.
We have the beautiful Laurie Delk coming out of Nashville, Tennessee, a 24-year veteran web designer and marketing consultant, working out of your home and created an incredibly successful business.
Laurie, welcome to the show today. Thank you for being with us.
Laurie Delk: Thank you. It’s an honor to be asked to be on the show.
Kody: We sure love that smile of yours, girl. I mean you just – you got a bundle of energy coming from you and we’re so excited to hear from you. I would consider you to be one of the top master relationship marketers in the world today.
I mean some of the things that you do to build your own business and to living your home life are absolutely incredible. We want to bring those stories out today in this interview. Man, I hope you’re all taking good notes because Laurie has got incredible information for us today.
First of all Laurie, 24-year veteran web designer and marketing consultant. Can you just tell us a little bit about what exactly you do? What do you provide for your clients?
Laurie: Yeah. So 24 years ago, I started out just basically creating basic websites. That was before programs were even out to create websites. So I did all the hard coding and graphics and then marketing when we got on the internet and then now I actually have several clients that I run their – it’s like web-based project management systems. So anything that they have to do with their business on the internet, I run that and head that off and take care of it.
Kody: So what kind of marketing efforts do you use? I know you do a lot on Facebook. So you do a lot of online stuff. You do a lot offline stuff. Most people listening right now, the first thing they always want to know is this sounds like an intriguing business. How do you acquire customers? What kind of things do you do? Just quickly.
Laurie: For me to get customers, it’s 100 percent referral. I don’t advertise anywhere. The only marketing per se that I do other than posting on social media really is keeping in touch with people and other clients that I’ve networked with refer me to other people.
Kody: OK. So 100 percent referral business. Everybody is always interested in that. I don’t care what profession you’re from. If you can generate 100 percent referral business, that’s a huge thing. So obviously people want to know how you do that. Again, you’re a master at relationship marketing. You’re a master at reaching out and connecting with people on Facebook as well as offline.
One of the things I really want to talk to you about Laurie is – one of the things I’ve learned from you is that you reaching out to people is – it’s who you are. It’s what you do. There doesn’t seem to be any lines of whether a person is doing business with you or whether you just met them somewhere. You do these things for everybody. Can you just talk to us a little bit about that?
I mean I want people to feel your heart because I think it’s important. Before we even get into the business side, it’s important that people understand that what you do is in you. I mean this is just who you are. So could you just share that with us?
Laurie: Yeah, I do. I believe in spreading happiness and kindness no matter what. So if people do business with me, great. If they don’t, that’s great too. We can still be great friends and I can still send them happiness through the mail and digitally through Facebook and other social media too.
I try to connect with people every single day through – I have a thing where I text 10 people a day and just say, “Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!” or a terrific Thursday, something cute like that. I send messages like that on Facebook through messenger or sometimes directly to their page and then sometimes I post a selfie saying that to everybody.
But yeah, I try to just connect with people. If I can get their mailing address, I also send them cards and sometimes gifts through the mail. Then I always send birthday cards if I find that out. I try to snoop and find that out or ask them sometimes.
Kody: So let me ask you a question. When you do all of that, are you trying to get business from those people?
Kody: So you do it just to do it. Now Laurie, this is what I hope that all of our guests that get on this can understand. You do those things to do those things. You do those things without any expectation, anything in return. You do those things for the sake of being kind to other people, period. That’s why one of our guests before talked about being intentional with your relationships and that’s what you do.
This is what we are trying to teach the world is that if you do this, all of your business stuff takes care – that’s how you get 100 percent referral business. You just be nice to people for the sake of being nice to people. You are so good at that. I mean that’s one of the things I love most about your example is that you truly are that. You genuinely do that.
Let’s jump in to a couple of key things here. You do a lot on social media. You talk about how you reach out to – can you just walk us through the process of what you do every day on social media to reach out to people?
Laurie: Yeah. So my day is very busy. So I am very much into the time blocks. So I schedule two – usually two 15-minute time blocks on social media and so in that 15 minutes, I do 5 minutes of – I post things. So I post positivity, a cute quote that I read that day in my devotions, something educational, and then sometimes something that’s marketing also.
So I do that, the 80-20 rule. So it’s like four posts that I do that are educational or motivational or spiritual and then sometimes one marketing post and then the next 5 minutes, I read messages and get through all my messages that I can and then the last 5 minutes, what I do is – about once a year, I download all my data from Facebook. So you can go into your settings and download that, all your friends and all your followers.
So then I copy and paste that into a notepad and 5 minutes, I take a couple of people and I just take their name and I go to their page and I like a couple of things, comment, If they posted a picture of something, you know, with their kid playing soccer, where they won a game or something, that I download those pictures and then I send their kid a congratulations card with a pack of brownies or something like that.
So that way I’m connecting with them and then I erase them from that notepad, so that way it goes through and I end up getting through every single person that’s on my Facebook because I have the 5000 friends and the several thousand followers after that. So I don’t see all those people in my newsfeed because I don’t stay on there that long. So this way, I’m at least connecting with everybody at least once a year.
Kody: Wow! You could do a full day seminar on what you just said. I mean that was such a great quick recap of some really powerful activities on Facebook that you do. That’s just incredible stuff. I really appreciate you sharing that with us.
I’m on the receiving end of a lot of what you do. I mean I’m friends with you on Facebook. So I see these posts and every time I see a Laurie Delk post, I’m intrigued. It’s like, “OK. What’s Laurie going to share today?” and that’s because you’ve done it consistently for so long that I know that what you provide is going to create value for me.
I’ve also received greeting cards from you in the mail. I’ve received cards from you before just celebrating something or sometimes celebrating me or saying thank you to Jodi and I for something. So I’ve been on the receiving end of what you do and it’s incredible. I mean it’s magical, that process.
So let’s talk a little bit about the offline – by the way, time blocking. I think we need to touch on that a little bit. I find that so many people – we get in the habit where we spend way, way, way too much time on Facebook because you have a tendency. There’s a habit of, “Oh, I got a couple of minutes right now. Let me check my news feed,” and 45 minutes later, you’re still messing around on Facebook.
So I love that you time block and I think that’s great advice for all of us is to time block and get very – you get very specific about what you do during your time blocks, which is really powerful stuff. I appreciate you sharing that.
Offline, you do a ton of – you talk about thank-you cards, birthday cards, greeting cards. You talk about gifts that you offer sometimes along with those. Can you walk us through that process a little bit on – because again, you send a lot of greeting cards out, not necessarily for people that you’re doing business with. You’re just again reaching out to people in kindness. So walk us through what you do there.
Laurie: Yeah. So anytime I meet someone, I send them a “nice to meet you” card. If I do do business with them, of course I send them a “thank you for doing business with me” card. Sometimes if I – if it’s a prospective business, then I send them, “Thank you for your time,” or “Thank you for talking to me.”
I also do a lot of networking and then I meet people one-on-one outside of the networking and so then I send them a card saying, “Thank you for your time,” and send them like usually two packs of brownies or some sort of gift with that.
Then like yesterday, I had a friend that she’s a real estate agent and she posted on Facebook that she was in the top like 30 in her company and so I stole that picture off Facebook and threw it on a card and sent her a card and then sent her a little gift with it saying, “Hey, congratulations. I’m so proud of you.”
So little things like that and then also for – I always try to find out people’s birthday, their anniversary. I send cards at either Thanksgiving or Christmas or sometimes right in the middle to kind of do both and then I do another one like at the beginning of the year. So sometimes I pick St. Patrick’s Day or Easter or spring or 4th of July. So I can just create like a campaign where I create a card one time and then I pick the groups of the people – I always put all my people in different categories, in different groups in our contact management relationship system that we use. That way, I can pick out who I want to send them to and then click the button and 5000 cards go out all at once.
Kody: Well, I’m glad you brought that up, that there’s a system that helps you do this because when we hear you say all these things you do, it – people listening right now, I mean it sounds overwhelming. It sounds like that’s all you do all day every day is send cards galore to people everywhere. But you actually have a system that helps you do that.
In fact, you’ve sent over 80,000 greeting cards in the last 13 years to people in your life, whether you do business with them or not. You’ve just given us the examples of how you do it. Can you break down for us – I mean how much – again, you’re a big time blocker. How much time a day do you spend sending cards, just on average?
Laurie: I schedule 15 minutes a day. So that’s – usually that’s all. Every once in a while, if it’s something throughout the day – like if I’m out and about and I end up seeing somebody or I capture a moment and I know the person or whatever or I find out who the person is and their address, then I might log on to my phone and send one card really quickly and gift right then. But other than that, it’s – the same thing. I have a time block and it’s 15 minutes. So it’s – yeah, it’s not a lot of time. But –
Kody: Well, that’s amazing. On average 15 minutes a day turns into 80,000 cards over the course of 12 or 13 years. So that’s what – hopefully the message that we convey here is that with systems like we have – and you use a system called SendOutCards. With systems like that, you’re capable of time blocking and doing this. Now do you do it – because I know you’re very modest and you don’t like to share your success. But you run a very, very successful consultant business and – what other kind of marketing do you do?
Kody: So this is it. This is all you do.
Laurie: Yes. I don’t do any – I don’t pay for any other type of marketing at all. I send out cards and keep in touch with people and yeah, whether they do business with me or not. A lot of people that I even send cards to are in the same business with me or where they wouldn’t do business with me, with what I do, whether it’s web and graphics design or in the send-out-cards business or anything that they wouldn’t do business with me because they already do what I do. But I still send them cards because I’m still building that relationship and I totally believe what goes around comes around and what you give out comes back to you and it has worked. So I keep doing it.
Kody: Very much a habit for you. It’s in you and you can’t turn it off. You just keep doing it in 15-minute time blocks a day and that’s what you do. In fact another interesting stat that you shared with me earlier, in 2016 – everybody listen to this. This is crazy.
In 2016, you sent close to 10 packs of brownies, just a little gift. There’s a little gift that the SendOutCards system allows – and there’s all kinds of gifts. But one of the big selling gifts is two packs of brownies in a beautiful box and they can go with the greeting card. You sent close to 10 packs of brownies every single day the last year.
Kody: Who are you sending these to and why? I mean what? I mean that’s amazing. So why are you doing that?
Laurie: Well, I’ve always said that I love to send out happiness through the mail. So that’s what the cards – I always try to – any card that I send, I want somebody, when they open it, to smile. So I don’t want it to just be a “blah” card.
I want them to enjoy it and be happy and feel that emotion when they get it. The brownies are yummy. They’re just so yummy. So you can send a two-pack and it’s super convenient and economical and I just decided one year that – that that was it. That I wanted to do more than just a birthday card and so I decided that every birthday I had come up, that I was going to send two packs of brownies with it.
So in my contact manager that I have, I have between 5 and 15 about birthdays every single day that come up in my database, that remind me. So yeah, so I just decided that I added two packs of brownies with the campaign. So it was already set up for me and I just clicked that button. But that way, everybody got not just a card but they also got a nice gift from me.
Kody: Wow, that’s incredible. I’m going to act on a prompting right now as we close the show up and I don’t mean to put you on the spot. But I feel prompted to do so. Laurie, you are – people watching you right now, you’re a bundle of positive energy. You’re happy. You do amazing things every day to please other people and to bring kindness into people’s lives. Obviously we’re in a world today that desperately needs that. You resonate kindness from you, happiness from you, and you’ve been through a great deal of trial in your life in the last five or six years. You have dealt with adversity that would break most people.
I just feel compelled to kind of close this right now and – if you would like to share what you’ve been through, that’s fine. But just how do you go through such adversity like I know you’ve been through and resonate the kind of joy that you resonate on this call? Can you just share with us what makes this – so you can be like that?
Laurie: Yeah. So I’ve had like seven major heartaches in the last five years from losing my husband, to my mom, and several people close to me. I actually tell a lot of my walk and my book that is being released this week actually called We All Have Choices and that said, I was so blessed with a mom who raised me to have that positivity mindset and then of course the people that I’ve been allowed to be around and attracted into my life the last several years helped me to feed me that mindset and still have moments obviously.
You know, when I first got the news of my husband being killed in a car wreck, all that positivity pretty much went out the window. But still it just – because I live that so much every day and I read and I – in the bible, it talks about that Paul encouraged himself in the Lord and David encouraged himself in the Lord.
So you have to encourage yourself. You have to lift yourself back up. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps and move forward. So I know how important that is and like for me, I know – you know, not only do I know that I have a lot of people that watch me and follow me. But even more so importantly, I have children that are watching how I react to these situations because they’re going to have situations in their life that one day, they will have to react to.
So I just know how important it is to find some sort of positivity, something that you can be grateful for. One of the things I do is every day in my gratitude journal, I write five specific things for that day that I’m thankful and grateful for.
So when I do have those moments and I go to my bed and cry, I can pull out my gratitude journal that’s right in my nightstand next to my bed and I can read through thousands of pages of all these things that I have to be grateful for to make me get back to that positivity mindset and make me realize what I can be thankful and grateful for because there are so many things that God has blessed me with in so many different areas.
So even though I might walk through some sort of tragedy that I might not be so happy with and I might not understand and who knows, might not ever understand until I get to heaven, I still can trust the fact that I’ve been blessed in so many incredible different ways that I need to stay focused on being thankful and grateful for that and that’s – and what you think about, you bring about. That was one of my mom’s favorite phrases and she used to tell me that. I mean from the time I was little, that I could walk, I remember her saying that.
So I totally believe in just making my mindset think and focus on the things that I want to attract into my life. So I believe that helps and has helped me to help other people that have ended up walking in the same shoes as me.
Kody: Well, Laurie, you’re a great example. We appreciate your stories. We appreciate what you provide for the world today. We’re in such need of the kindness that you provide and even walking through adversity and you’ve shared with us some really cool things that you can do to stay in the positive, which is so important in the world today.
So thank you very much for being on the show. We really, really appreciate you. Next week, you may want to tune in next week. By the way, those of you who are watching this, just get back with the person that shared this with you and they can share with you more about the system that Laurie uses and how it could help you in your business and in your personal life as well.
We’re about bringing the human race together and we’re going to do it through kindness. So we have a way to do that. We’re excited about it.
Next week, we have a very special guest, Jordan Adler. Jordan Adler is a highly successful network marketer and author, very well-known in the network marketing and entrepreneurial profession and best-selling author of the book Beach Money.
My goodness, you want to be on the show because he’s going to share with us how – what he does in his network marketing profession, what he does as an author, and how he shares and teaches other people how to be kind using relationship marketing principles.
Great show for all of us to tune into next Wednesday, Jordan Adler. This week, Laurie Delk, thank you very much. Again, your book is titled We All Have Choices. Where can we find that? Where could someone get a copy of that? I know I’m excited for it.
Laurie: It’s on Amazon, We All Have Choices.
Kody: We All Have Choices by Laurie Delk. It’s on Amazon. Please go and get a copy today. Thank you Laurie. Thank you everybody for tuning in. We will see you next week. Take care now.
Get your LinkedIn SSI score, and learn how to be a better connector influencer.
LinkedIn previously had the SSI (Social Selling Index Score) as a feature that people only had access to only if they were paying.
Where do you rank?
Check HERE to calculate your score:
Click HERE to connect with me and build your network.
The Score Breakdown:
The Social Selling Index is broken down into 4 components:
1) Establish Your Professional Brand – Complete your profile with the customer in mind. Become a thought-leader by publishing meaningful posts.
2) Find the right People – Identify better prospects in
less time using efficient search and research tools.
3) Engage with Insights – Discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships.
4) Build Relationships – Strengthen your network by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers.
Have a professional profile shot (doesn’t have to cost a lot or anything, but just you, and professional, decent background)
Your profile should show your accolades and the potential you’d bring to a prospective employer.
SSI is a score that measures how well each person utilizes proper social selling practices. You can measure your progress, as well as see the links between your social selling and your performance. It shows how well you have implemented best selling skills practices into your social media strategies on LinkedIn. Once your profile is complete, the more you connect with other decision makers, share great content, and connect with potential prospects, your SSI numbers will likely rise.
In essence, the more you are engaged with social relationship marketing and social selling, the better your results will be.
LinkedIn’s algorithms look at profile completeness when determining your score. Prospective clients many times will look at your score as well. Many times before people buy from you, do business with you, or even contact you or connect with you – they check you out on social media.
You must establish yourself as an expert in your field. It doesn’t mean spending a lot of money, always, but business does take some time and money! But you want to post educational and useable content that helps enrich your followers and guide them to why you are good at what you do, and why they should trust you and believe in what you do.
Posting your experiences and accomplishments is a great way to start. Posting useful and relevant updates, educational, spiritual (if you choose to incorporate this into your business), effective information will reinforce your professional brand. Your prospective clients will turn to you when they need assistance, and your SSI score will shoot up as well.
When you’re viewing people and looking for 2nd or 3rd-degree connections, the right kind will help you to create warm introductions with productive prospects and leads. Use the advanced search features on LinkedIn to give you even better results.
Always look at who has viewed your profile and make sure to engage with them, if appropriate.
Always look for specifically influencers and decision makers – you want to connect yourself with senior level executives—people who can make waves for you when the time comes. Connections with many people is always great, but those who have influence over many others, can help you in business even more.
Think of what interests you, share that, on your wall, in groups that are relevant to your interests…..as you do, many of your prospects and prospective clients that have those same interests, will see you more as an expert, and also help connect you even more with the right people on LinkedIn. Remember to be consistent and share good and educational material.
Building trust in relationship marketing is key to your success. You can enhance your relationship marketing in many ways, texting, phone calls, social media connecting and posting, in person, and sending to keep in touch through the real mail. This will in turn also help you in referrals….instead of asking for them, deserve them – show your connections why you deserve their referrals.
When it comes down to it – it is all about knowing the right people. Don’t just accept everyone that asks. Your SSI score looks at how you are connected with others as well, and how each of you relate to each other. It also looks at when others accept you or not, if you have a lower acceptance rate, your SSI may suffer.
It is also always best to reach out as much as possible. When someone sends me a request, I look at their profile before accepting, to see if I might think that they would be a good fit. I do not randomly accept everyone. Then I send them a message, asking them WHY they want to connect with me. The thing is – you want to add value, but you want others to add value to you as well. Don’t just merely think in the numbers of how many I can have, and how many possible sales that might be. You want the right people, and the right sales.