Is that saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” complete BS? It may seem on the surface that people who treat people badly seem to have anti-karma. We can all think of examples of actors or business tycoons who have had amazing financial success and notoriety, seemingly at the expense of others. An argument can be made as to whether someone who treats others miserably is actually very happy themselves, but that is subjective and up to them and their eventual eternity.
There are examples in internet marketing of “black” techniques that work and work well, for a while. An SEO ranking built on bought links, spam email raids, keyword stuffing and the likes that worked 10 years ago would probably be banned from Adwords today. Point and shoot tactics work better than shotgun marketing but more and more segmentation is creeping into every campaign and it is finally boiling down to “content is king.” This not farmed content shipped in at a dollar a page from Bangladesh, but real relevant content generated by hand by the people who care about what they are doing and what they are writing.
I don’t think we can badger anyone into doing anything anymore. I was reminded of a story from my youth that relates to my own kids (and business) now. Returning home from College to visit mom and dad got less and less frequent as my schedule grew and my ties with the parental structure became less important in my life. Rather than trying to either learn how to let go, or how to become more relevant again, my parents started to try to put the pressure on. The reaction to a phone call from college would literally be “how come you never call?” Dinner table conversations would devolve into bitch sessions about my inattentiveness and how poorly I treated my parents. The end result; I really didn’t want anything to do with them after a while. I loved them, but there was no nurturing.
I have tried to take this lesson to heart with my own children, and therefore customers. When my kids forget a birthday or holiday or I don’t see them for a summer it reflects on their schedule and my own karma. What do I have to offer them ? When we get together are we doing something new and stimulating and relevant to them, or just sitting around eating and drinking? Am I putting conditions on our time together? Is there a feeling of quid-pro-quo in the relationship? Are they feeling a sense of obligation to hang around with us? If the answer to any, or in some cases many, of these questions is affirmative we need to take a look at the end result. By self-seeking short term gains, we can be causing resentment and opening ourselves up to be replaced by the next available option. I eventually used to do ANYTHING other than drive home from school.
Your customers will do the same thing. In today’s market f you are putting the “squeeze” on your customers your karma will eventually catch up with you. There used to be monopolies in credit card companies, airlines, even power companies. None of that is true anymore. The old axiom of “If you don’t serve your customers, someone else will” has never been truer. Even in the more traditional businesses competition has grown and re-grown to a point that it just doesn’t make sense. For every smaller boutique company that gets swallowed up by a “giant” three more emerge.
Look at the airline industry. We have seen consolidations of a magnitude unimaginable in the 60’s. Whether through failures or buy-outs and mergers, two thirds of the brands I grew up with no longer exist. The beauty is that for every Continental-United merger there have been a new Southwest, Virgin, or JetBlue.
America has always been the land of the entrepreneur and that will not soon change. We have the spirit, the opportunity, and the means. The digital age is no different. If you are bullying your customers or extorting them for your service, technical support, or content, the time will come that someone else will provide all of this openly and freely.
There about thirty “meet-up” groups, twenty or so webinars and at least a two dozen white papers and free”e-books” that cross my desk weekly. It causes me to filter huge amounts of information and hundreds of offers. These offers range from the blatant unabashed “look at how we do this and buy from us” to the more subtle “we’ll give you this in exchange for your contact information.”
One webinar I watched last week had a really fresh and nurturing approach. “We will give you all of this content free.” There was no contact information form. They didn’t even ask for an email address, the premise being that if the content was good enough (and It was) that you would WANT to be with them. You would seek out their company and contact them.
Just like I pushed back as a kid when someone tried to make me guilty, or extort my attention, people are getting absolutely saturated with conditional offers. Instead of “fill out this page and we will tell you part of what we know about…” consider the following:
“We have enough respect for you, and confidence in ourselves that we want you to have this information. We are not asking for anything in return. We sincerely hope that it is helpful to you and your business. If you find it valuable we are confident that you will remember where it came from.”