Being a proper Southern lady (which I totally am so just ask anyone who’s never met me in person please, as otherwise this charade won’t go on for much longer) I am always very impressed when someone takes the time to say thank you, but when they take the time to actually do something to indicate their thanks? I’m devoted to them forever.
There’s too little of this in the world today as simple gratitude keeps getting replaced by more and more entitlement. For example, I am a big door holder. I don’t mean that I hold big doors, although I would, but if I have the chance to hold the door for someone even if this person is 50 feet behind me, I’ll do it. The other day I held the door for some total bleached blonde cow with a baby carriage and she pushed past me, smugly staring me down without saying a word. She’s lucky I had my daughter with me or I’d have gone into a hillbilly rage where the Muzak suddenly turned into the music that played on The Dukes Of Hazzard when there was a fight scene. Why couldn’t she just say “thank you” and not make me wish I’d brought my cast iron skillet with me as I shopped? (I usually do.)
Now I am good at holding grudges, and quite prone to them when it involves someone being late because if I hate anything more than someone not saying thanks, it’s someone being late. I would post a selfie of my frown that’s pulling my face apart right now just typing this, but it might detract from my stupid stories. While my longest-standing grudge has gone on since 1991, my newest two were born just days apart, within the past month. Both involve food because after no “thank you” and lateness, not getting fed really, really, really makes my blood boil.
If you have not yet fallen asleep, cursed me for being boring, or sent me an email virus for wasting your time, here’s my point (finally): it takes very little to piss someone off, and very little to become a star in someone’s eyes. If the effort is the same, why don’t you go for the positivity that comes from being nice, from saying thank you, and from showing some class? It’s as simple as pointing someone to an answer she seeks on Twitter, or thanking her for participating in your interview or crowd-based piece, or doing anything that shows that her niceness is appreciated.
A few months ago, Casie Gillette asked me to contribute to an article that she was writing and since I love to spout off when asked, thinking it’s not as obnoxious as spouting off when I’m not asked (which is untrue), I did so. A week later, I received a Starbucks gift card as her way of saying thanks.
Every Christmas, I get a gorgeous gift basket from a company that I send referrals to and I’d name them here but I don’t want to irritate anyone that I don’t send referrals to. This past year, Bill Sebald sent me a package of fruit and chocolate that was the size of my bathroom, which is not outdoors contrary to popular opinion, and he said it was because I had helped him get the guts to start his own business. My advice was mostly a series of curses and anecdotes about how much it sucked to work for someone else but still, it was a lovely thing to do.
Now, I’ve definitely been sent something as a way of thanks from many people over the years and I don’t want to keep naming them because I’ll sound way too “go me!!” but wow, when I think over the past few years, it’s been really amazing to see people being appreciative of something as simple as me giving them 5 minutes of my time. I am still quite open to receiving gift baskets in case you’re wondering but just remember how much I detest coconut.
Do I do this classy thing, sending gift baskets willy nilly? NO. And I’m ashamed as hell. I can barely remember to tell people that the post they contributed to is now live, and that’s my number one goal for 2014: start telling people that the post they contributed to is now live. Ok, I’m kidding. It’s “start doing more to say thanks.” Maybe by this public self-shaming I’ll get better.
I talk about this kind of thing all the time and its importance in marketing can’t be ignored, especially if you need to make sure that people know who you are via some channel other than Google. Word of mouth could save your ass one day. Gestures of thanks, in some form or another, are going to make a difference. Give out coupons to your existing customers, send out a free appetizer or dessert to a regular diner at your restaurant, host an open house and get everyone drunk off their asses.
My husband’s barber has doughnuts for their customers every weekend. My daughter’s dance studio has a homework room and coffee for the parents. A particular saleslady at a department store in my town can always manage to dig up an extra coupon when we buy something from her. When we bought our last car, the saleslady sent us a very lovely thank you note and while we obviously made her a nice fat commission, it was still something that keeps her in my mind for the next time we buy one. My friend bought a giant chicken coop and being the kind of person who gets jealous of someone else’s chicken coop, I had to have one since mine looked like it could cave in or explode, but many places that sold coops wouldn’t deliver. This place did, so bam – I have a chicken coop that also doubles as a room for guests. (I consider free delivery of a giant building to be a way of saying thank you. If you don’t and you’re happy moving 1000 pound structures yourself, then by all means keep up the good work, you big meathead.)
What about if you are talking about a business that isn’t something local like this? If you need to send sympathy flowers to someone in Arizona to say “sorry you live in a bigoted, backwards, and homophobic state” then how will you find them? You’ll probably use Google right? You won’t know who’s made a nice gesture in a case like this unless you read a review, and now I have (hopefully, kind of) proven my point: goodness means people like you and when they like you maybe their voices can outweigh the haters. Haters love to give reviews though, and I’ll tell you that the last time I reviewed a place, it was a pizza delivery company who kept me waiting for 2.5 hours then got indignant when we said um we’ve had to go ahead and eat as otherwise we’d have died. Every day I drive past their shop and every day I make the same face that my old cat Tinkerbell made when we drove her to the vet. However, if I’d ordered pizza from a company who threw in some fried mushrooms for free, I might have reviewed them. I’d have been more likely to review them than I would have if I’d gotten fuck all for free, I’ll tell you that.
So think about what you can do to look good. Be nice, say thank you with something, and just generally don’t piss someone off, especially someone who grew up near a creek, has attended the birthday party of a giant pig, thinks rocking chairs are proper furniture, has a mother who says things like “I always wanted to learn how to play spoons!”, owns chickens, has read Deliverance and not just seen the movie, because just seeing the movie is kind of lame, and owns several large pieces of cookware that can be swung. Google can penalize or de-index your site but they can’t truly make or break your entire business reputation unless you let them.