Helping others can be a tricky topic because it likely has a different meaning for each of us. For you it might mean donating clothing or other gently used household items to a charitable organization. For others it might mean giving money to a charitable cause. It could also mean giving your time and talents to help others become better people in some way or another. All of those are great definitions of helping others and maybe you engage in all of those activities. But here’s the kicker: Do you consider helping your customers by giving of yourself? You should and here’s why.
Give more than they pay for
Helping others today typically results in creating a population more likely to be able to help you in the future. Think of helping others as an investment in your future. If you truly offer the help in a selfless manner, you can practically guarantee a return on investment.
Driving non-profits results
I’m active in the Audi Club of Wisconsin, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on community service. The primary vehicle for giving back to the community is its annual Teen Driving Clinics in both Milwaukee and La Crosse Wisconsin each year.
In exchange for a $35 donation to the club and a day of their time, we run an all-day driving clinic that includes classroom and practical exercises on a closed course. Even with the generous support of Shell Oil, the organization loses money on the event after paying for location rental, lunch and refreshments that we include in the cost of the event. Still, we do it happily; year after year after year.
We do it because we all get a great sense of accomplishment and pride watching these teenagers go from being afraid of their own vehicles and unsure of their own skills to excellent safe drivers in the course of a day. When I first volunteered this year, I was amazed to see how quickly the transformation can occur with proper instruction and a supportive cast of volunteers. What these teens (and their parents) drive away with is worth far more than the $35 they pay for the day’s activities.
What we as club members drive away with is a sense of pride and accomplishment that is priceless. We’ve made some of the most vulnerable drivers safer and more likely to survive the most dangerous part of their driving life. And let’s remember that makes the road a safer place for everyone.
Educating a customer base for “free”
So when a client subscribes to one of our ColorMetrix products and it takes hours and hours to help get them up and running we do it willingly and happily. We do it in part because we know a satisfied subscriber will typically stay with us 5 years or more. We also do it because we know we’ve helped educate someone about color verification and process control in an industry that could use more people educated about the topic. A more educated industry means a stronger industry that is more likely to understand the value proposition of our products and services.
Give before they even pay you
Can you imagine going to the grocery store and asking for free samples of the food before you buy it? Oh wait … They actually do that at the grocery store. Some brands even send me coupons to get a package of whatever it is they want me to buy for free. Friends who own a local restaurant lured me in with a free sample for my wife and me.
Maybe your business is offering consulting services like my BSChat. How would you give away free samples of that? For starters, you might write 3 or 4 blog posts a month with the type of advice you are proposing to sell. That way folks can get a feel for the way you think and convey your ideas. If consulting were my full-time endeavor I might offer Clarity calls for free. As it is, I currently offer those calls at a very reasonable $1/minute for those who want to get a feel for how I think and interact with them.
The key is to give of yourself by helping others without expecting a return on that investment of time. The reality is that return is practically guaranteed if you give of yourself in a truly selfless manner.