It's the process that matters

My grandparents had a dog. He was the cutest, happiest puppy I’d ever met. I was a child, he was a puppy and together we got along well. I remember one sunny afternoon. I was sitting in the shade and the puppy was resting on the ground near my feet. Then, he got up and started chasing his tail in circles, and circles and circles, until he got tired and, with a satisfied look on his face, settled down for a nap. He accomplished his goal.

We all have goals.

More sales, more customers. Better customers. A better business. A sunnier office. More freedom. More fulfillment. There will always be another goal. We will always want more or different, because that’s what life is all about. Wanting and fulfilling.

Goals are beautiful, and goals do lead the way. We want our goals to happen, so we think about them a lot.

But it’s the process to get our goals accomplished that truly matters. It’s the process that changes us and has the most profound impact on us, not the achievement of the goals. It’s the process that occupies most of our living time.

If the process is what truly matters, shouldn’t we enjoy it a little bit more?

My grandparents’ puppy wasn’t just chasing his tail. He was chasing the fun of running around and around and around. He wanted to experience the process of running after his tail, and he did so with playfulness, exhilaration and surrender. Because it was the process that mattered to him, not the tail.

We’re programmed to think that the excitement will come only when we get to the destination. I’ll stop fretting when I get this done. I’ll be happy when I finish my product. I’ll be happy when I get my first 5000 customers. I’ll be happy when I finish my book.

But why not make the process as exciting as attaining the goals? Why wait until it’s all done? Why did I worry so much along the way, most of us think when we reach a milestone. Why didn’t I enjoy it a little more, we wonder with regret.

Like a puppy running after his tail, we too can revel in the experience of chasing our goals.

That book you want to write? It’s the process that matters. Enjoy it all, from allowing the idea to visit with you, to editing it, to sharing your book with the world.

That business you want more customers for? It’s the process that matters. Enjoy it all, from creating something meaningful to sell for money, to putting it in front of people, to saying thank you to the customers who buy it.

I invite you to fall in love with the process. Whatever you’re working on right now, whatever you want, whatever you want to change or whatever you want to become - it’s a process and it wants to dance with you. A jazzy, fluid and beautiful process.

45 Ways to make your customers and your tribe feel appreciated

The people you write for or make videos for. The people you sell your products to. The people on the other end. They’re inspired by you. They love what you sell. They listen to you. I know, because otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

If you’d like to make them feel appreciated, I hope you’ll find inspiration in my list below.

If I had to sum this list up, I’d say: be honest, be kind, be transparent and remember you’re an uplifter. Because you are. And we’re all ready to be uplifted by you.

  1. A thank you just because email

  2. Secret updates about a new product you’re working on

  3. A special section on your website only accessible to customers, where you post additional content from what’s visible to all visitors

  4. A behind the scenes video

  5. Dedicate a new product to a customer who inspired you

  6. Limited edition products just for elite customers

  7. Thank you handwritten cards

  8. Gifts that don’t have your company’s logo on them

  9. An event just for customers

  10. A virtual club

  11. Ask for your customers’ vote about something you’re working on (and show them how you’ve used their vote)

  12. A multi city tour to meet your customers

  13. Donate to a cause that’s important to your customers

  14. Fix people’s problems quickly and seamlessly

  15. Follow up with people who had an issue

  16. Answer people’s questions on social media

  17. Ask for people’s feedback and show them you used it

  18. A free product day, where everyone gets a free sample (inspired from Ben & Jerry’s “free cone” annual day)

  19. A free workshop on a topic valuable to your customers

  20. Give a shout out to special customers on social media and/or your other marketing messages

  21. Gather and share “customer stories” (ex. a newsletter with customer pictures and stories)

  22. Offer a surprise upgrade

  23. A “Happy One” card on the customer’s one year anniversary with your business

  24. A separate phone line just for customers (or just for VIP customers)

  25. Pop up (virtual or in person) week where “product experts” (i.e. stylists, engineers etc.) answer your customers’ questions

  26. Wish them happy birthday and offer a gift

  27. Give an unexpected reimbursement

  28. Respond personally to some customer inquiries

  29. Create a “year in review” for each customer

  30. Empower your employees to spontaneously do special things for your customers

  31. Create personalized products for some customers (inspired by Samsung http://mashable.com/2012/08/30/samsung-dragon-phone/#U.Q3rP5lLgqV)

  32. A celebratory, thank you or get well card signed manually by your entire team

  33. Tshirts with your customers’ names on them

  34. A concierge service only for your VIP clients

  35. Jokes, mantras or words of inspiration customized with a customer’s details

  36. A special video message from your founder or team

  37. Different emails for customers (don’t just change the message, change the design too)

  38. A different package for repeat customers

  39. An AMA (ask me anything) day where your team is available all day to answer questions asked by your customers in real time online

  40. “How I built this” 100% honest and transparent training

  41. Celebrate your birthday with your customers

  42. Start an award for customers only

  43. Monthly digital art with things overheard in your tribe

  44. Gift books that inspired you in creating your product, content or business

  45. Say thank you to everyone who gives you a shout out on social media

They understand something that’s often forgotten in CRM strategies

Harvey helped me with several small projects around my home. He also painted my apartment.

This past week Harvey texted me to wish me Happy Holidays. He wrote that he’s grateful for the work he’s done for me and hopes I will always call him when I need work done.

Bella works in a beauty salon and is incredibly passionate about what she does for a living. I’m one of her loyal customers. Bella texts me every now and then to ask me how I am, if I’d like to make an appointment and to let me know when she’s away on vacation for a longer period of time.

Bella and Harvey don’t care much about marketing. Yet they always have customers. They didn’t purposefully implement a CRM strategy. Yet, they abound in loyal customers.

They understand something that’s often forgotten in meeting rooms in large companies. They know the relationships they build with their customers are the backbone of their business. When they talk with their customers, they’re genuine and authentic and eager to build a long lasting relationship.

Building long lasting and profitable relationships should be the goal of every CRM strategy.

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s about using meaningful customer data to create strategies and systems that maximize each customer’s lifetime value. To maximize value, you have to build and strengthen a relationship.

Unfortunately, CRM is vastly misunderstood. It’s not just about a sophisticated tool or about customer intelligence. But more importantly, it’s not just about making more money from the customers you already have.

How you make more money from your customers matters. You can make more money in ways that set you up for customer retention and loyalty, or you can make more money in ways that set you up for one time customers. It’s easier to do the latter. But in the long run, the latter will harm your business.

No matter how big your company will get, no matter how big your customer database will grow, all your CRM efforts should ultimately be about creating relationships with individual customers. Not about mass marketing, but about recognizing each customer as a unique individual with unique desires. Not about shouting the same message to all your customers, but about saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. Not about creating a sale, but about creating lifetime sales.

Here’s a little exercise. Take a look at your marketing calendar, at all the marketing emails and all other 1:1 communication you have planned for the month ahead. How many of them resonate with the customer segment that’s receiving them so much so that these customers think that message was created for them and only them? How many push a mass marketing event? How many build an emotional connection? How many were created to make a sale and how many were created to strengthen a relationship and increase lifetime value?

Perhaps the reason why so many of us can’t answer these questions in a way that feels good to us is because it’s not always easy to create marketing that generates maximum sales and that also strengthens the relationship with customers as much as possible. It’s a mix of art and science. However, when your objective is to strengthen the relationship with your customers, and when you stay grounded in direct marketing and CRM best practices, it’s my experience that you will gain all the sales you deserve.