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Want to Slash 50% Off Your Marketing Budget? Try Being Nice...

by Peter Shankman  |  
April 10, 2013

In the '80s, in the days of Michael Milken and Gordon Gekko, the rule on the street was "eat your young." Nice guys finish last. Hold your information. Keep the rules to yourself. Win at all costs.

No matter who or what you have to trample.

Today, with the advent of mobile technology and 24-hour-connectivity, those days are long gone. And those who have yet to realize that are on their way to being eliminated. If your company isn't "nice" from the top down, your revenues will suffer—and you'll actually spend more money on marketing than you have to.

We live in the "Sharing era." People share for two reasons: to share happiness with a slight sense of smugness (oh, check out this photo of the room upgrade the Westin just gave me!) and to share disappointment, with the logic that people aren't truly miserable about their situation until they've made everyone around them miserable, as well. (Listen to the cell phone conversations the next time your flight lands three hours late.)

We share more now than ever before... simply because we can. Every phone is a broadband ticket to immediacy, with the ability to upload statuses, photos, and videos to the world in real-time.

So, want to improve your marketing and drop your costs? Teach your employees to treat their customers one level above crap.

Let's face it: In addition to being a society of sharers, we're also a society that expects to be treated like crap. You expect the fast-food place to screw up your order, you expect your exit-row window seat to be replaced by a middle seat in the last row of the plane. We expect to be treated like crap, because it's what customer service has generally become.

But... being nice can change all of that. When the rest of the world treats customers like crap, treating yours one level above can make all the difference. And it doesn't even have to be above and beyond (although that's nice, too)—just one level above.

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Peter Shankman is the founder of The Geek Factory Inc., a marketing and customer service agency with clients worldwide. His third book, Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Out, and Collaboration Is In, hit stores on April 2, 2013. Reach him via

Twitter: @petershankman
LinkedIn:  Peter Shankman

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  • by F.V. Wed Apr 10, 2013 via web

    Hear hear! This has been my way of dealing with vendors at the company I'm currently working for. I truly believe a level of respect has to be practiced for a variety of reasons. It's a small world out there -- word of mouth counts and being nice will not only work in your favor but it makes for an overall better work environment. Why would you add to the already mounting stress of everyday by being a jerk? Unfortunately the company I work for has the opposite mentality, but it's something I'm trying to change. Great article!

  • by Michael O'Daniel Wed Apr 10, 2013 via web

    Try treating your employees one level above crap first, and then it's much easier to motivate them to treat your customers one level above crap.

  • by Cynthia McGarity Wed Apr 10, 2013 via web

    AWESOME article!! Thanks for this viewpoint and also illustrating to companies by way of the bottom line that graciousness is important. I believe, truly, that this is the key to success moving forward.

    Well said!

  • by Soeb Wed Apr 10, 2013 via android

    good article. In todays socially connected world it is very important to get public appreciation for your product. However it is very difficult to do so. People tweet or post very quickly about a bad experience with a product, however they are not so responsive with appreciation. There comes ina great challenge for marketers to make improvements to the product service which will make people appreciate by default.

  • by Mike Wittenstein Sun Apr 14, 2013 via web

    Spot on, Peter. Treating people well is good business. Kindness flow right to the bottom line--especially if the business is designed on purpose to make it easy for employees to shine. So many businesses rely on the kindness of their employees to 'be nice'. It works so much better (and it's more authentic) if the processes in the business are kind on purpose and by design.

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