Less than a week after Valentine's Day, love is still in the air. This week especially, people are focused on the most important human emotion of all. The greeting card aisle was crowded with customers searching high and low for the perfect way to express sentiments toward their partners. Florists were inundated with orders and restaurants were packed with reservations, as ways for lovebirds to show how much they care for one another. Simply put, love moves people to action. When we utter "till death do us part," we've expressed the ultimate in loyalty, so expressing that is paramount.
So while you scoured the racks for a just-for-my-sweetie card, or baked cookies for your kids, or got surprised with a bouquet at your desk, why weren't you thinking about your customers in the same context? We can all relate to romancing our significant others, so why not "romance" your customers? Are you just fulfilling a job or are you building the "love"? What can you do to stand out and make them fall in love with you?
1. Create a deep emotional connection. Even if you met your better half at a bar, your longterm relationship isn't just about that initial spark. You're on each other's wavelength with hobbies, dreams, travels, and desires. You sought out this information from her over time, as your relationship grew and developed, and it's changing every day. Do the same with your clients. What do they hope to gain? What are they afraid of? Where can you find common ground? If it's clear that you're working toward understanding your client's intricacies, you'll be sure to stand out.
2. Demonstrate you have the same values. As a casual fling develops into a serious couple, it's because of an alignment of values: family, religious beliefs, location preferences, lifestyle choices, etc. For customers, it's no different when choosing a company's product or service--is it aligned with their needs?
3. Make it sizzle. In order to last, any relationship has to be fun, exciting, and even sexy. Dinner on the couch in front of the TV every night just doesn't cut it--things have to still feel new and different, even if you've been together for decades. Would you still buy from a company that was stagnant? I don't think so--I'd much prefer to spend my money with a team that's on the forefront, always innovating and keeping me engaged.
4. Show your loyalty. As a good partner, you need to make it clear you'll have your significant other's back, even (and especially) when things go wrong. We vow to support our spouse "in sickness and in health," and so on and so forth. For your clients, make this same promise--and keep it. You can't guarantee a perfect performance record, but you can guarantee that you'll make it right when things aren't 100% as they should be.
5. Sprinkle in some mystery and intrigue. With your loved one, a little surprise and delight never hurts, as you continually are able to keep it fresh. A gift for no reason? Yes, please. A spontaneous weekend getaway? Why not? A surprise party with family for a big birthday? Talk about feeling appreciated. Customers are no different--why not send them an unexpected "thank you" note or care package? You can be rest assured that they'll be gabbing about that to their network when they get the mail that day.
6. Show you have THEIR best interest ahead of your own. In any relationship, this is the ultimate demonstration of love, because it shows you truly care about the other person and are willing to sacrifice for his/her benefit. This happens all the time in relationships--moving for a spouse's job, taking on more hours so someone can be a full-time homemaker, eating healthier to support someone dieting... the list is long here, folks. And yet, most people approach any business relationship (especially one with negotiation involved) wondering what's in it for me. If you take this oppositional, supportive approach into a meeting, you'll be amazed at how appreciative people will be of your attitude.
The same principles that make us fall in love with each other can be deployed for your business, as long as you do it in a thoughtful, authentic, and (of course) loving way.