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#1 Business Success Strategy – the Golden Rule

Altaf Shaikh | June 16, 2016 

A fortune cookie once told me, “Golden rule: he who has the gold, rules.” This is, of course, a humorous adaptation of the well-known Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Basically, treat others as you want to be treated.

Many great leaders in America’s history actually built their businesses on the Golden Rule. I would like to submit that it’s the #1 business success strategy today — that if we treat our customers the way we, ourselves, want to be treated, it will result in greater loyalty and sales.

The principle behind demonstrating respect is the value of the individual. The behavior is acting out the Golden Rule. Almost every culture and religion recognizes the value of the Golden Rule. We should treat people the way we want to be treated. Our actions should show we care. They should be sincere. People will notice if an action is motivated by a lesser reason or an impure value. Respect is demonstrated in the “little” things we do daily.
– Dr. Stephen Covey
The Speed of Trust

R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Find Out what it Means to Me

So sings the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in her popular 1967 version of the song, “Respect”. Respect connotes an act of esteeming someone or something, expressing high regard or deference.

Virgin mogul, Sir Richard Branson, said to be worth more than $5 billion, built his business empire based on respect. “Have respect,” he states in his book, Screw It, Let’s Do It. “There is nothing more important than your reputation. By treating all people as you would wish to be treated and having respect for everyone, you will have a far happier, more productive life.”

Dr. Stephen Covey was one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities, organizational experts, and thought leaders before his death in 2012. In his book, The Speed of Trust, he wrote, “The principle behind demonstrating respect is the value of the individual. The behavior is acting out the Golden Rule. Almost every culture and religion recognizes the value of the Golden Rule. We should treat people the way we want to be treated. Our actions should show we care. They should be sincere. People will notice if an action is motivated by a lesser reason or an impure value. Respect is demonstrated in the “little” things we do daily.”

Keeping existing customers and fostering ongoing loyalty is critical to the long-term success of any business. Some ways we can show respect to our customers in our marketing efforts include:

  • Making sure communications are relevant, provide value, and are based on the customer’s needs.
  • Respecting their time by timing communications to fit the customer’s schedule and preferences.
  • Showing appreciation. Recognize that they chose to do business with you over the competition. Make them feel good about that choice.
  • Making it a 2-way relationship. Ask for and listen to their opinions and preferences and take action on them.
  • Caring about their issues and success. After all, they’re more concerned about their own success than yours, so help them achieve their goals and desires.

It’s about Service, not Sales

In 1902, James Cash Penney founded a dry goods and clothing store that he named “The Golden Rule.” Penney believed that the Golden Rule applied to all aspects of life. “Profits must come through public confidence, and public confidence is given to any merchant in proportion to the service which he gives to the public.”

It was Cash’s conviction that “right service to the public results in mutual understanding and satisfaction between customer and merchant.” This company has been in business for more than 100 years and, today, is known as JCPenney.

So, when we think about the latest buzz words in marketing, such as, “customer journey”, “multi-channel”, and providing “brand experiences”, how do we do so in light of the Golden Rule? I think the first question to ask is, “Why are we marketing our products and services in the first place?” Answer: to fill a need. Who has that need? People. And, our needs as human beings aren’t just product-related. There’s a whole array of physical, mental, emotional and psychological considerations that go into satisfying our needs. As Richard Branson puts it, “A business is nothing more than a group of people making a positive difference to people’s lives.”

Let’s take the example of a woman shopping for a new outfit. What are some of the reasons that may have led to her shopping? Perhaps to:

  • Cover and protect herself physically.
  • Perform a certain activity more effectively and comfortably (yoga, hiking, dancing).
  • Boost her self-esteem and feel good about the way she looks
  • Please someone else.
  • Reward herself for an accomplishment.
  • Prepare for a special occasion or trip.
  • Fit in with peers or colleagues.
  • Support a worthy cause.
  • Save money because it’s on sale.
  • Save time and effort because the timing is convenient.

The store who understands her needs and motivations and can meet them at the time she’s ready to buy will be more likely to not only get the sale, but win her loyalty. That means being there when she’s ready to buy, which connotes having built a relationship with her. Relationships with customers are built over time, through consistency, and by utilizing all the channels they frequent to access information and make purchases.

Don’t Assume — Ask!

We really don’t know what our customers want or need until we ask them and analyze their behaviors. That requires gathering data and, then, using it to tailor personalized experiences for each customer. Some of the ways we can gather that data include: customer surveys and reviews, custom preference centers, transactions, social media, point-of-sale, special events and seminars, loyalty programs, apps, registrations, call centers, sales personnel, special promotions, and web analytics programs, to name a few. Capture everything you can that will tell you what is influencing your customers’ experiences and behaviors and, then, use that data to personalize their relationships with your brand.

Entrepreneur and success expert Brian Tracy writes in an article, “Practicing the golden rule in selling simply means that you sell to other people the way you would like to be sold to. The successful sales professional uses the golden rule to sell with the same honesty, integrity, understanding, empathy and thoughtfulness that they would like someone else to use in selling to them.”

What is your business doing to reach your customers and serve their needs? Contact us and let us know!

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Altaf Shaikh

Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is ListEngage’s Founder and CEO. Altaf has been in software development and digital marketing for more than 25 years. He started ListEngage in 2003 to help businesses transform their email and digital marketing. ListEngage has supported the Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2003 when it was ExactTarget. As a dedicated Salesforce Partner, ListEngage has served 900+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: 2013 ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 three consecutive years, and the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row. Contact Altaf at services@listengage.com.