Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bizlove Before Happiness

The book Delivering Happiness is on every best-seller list, and with good reason.

The author, Tony Hsieh, turned a good idea (sell shoes online) into a billion-dollar venture called Zappos (you've heard of it?). He succeeded by adding a simple element to online commerce: Make customers and employees happy, and the profits will follow.

By making product returns easy and all dealings with Zappos fun, Hsieh (pronounced Shay) created legions of customers for life who gladly refer others, while building a loyal workforce that comes to work every day with passion.

Pretty neat. And profitable.

But it turns out that Delivering Happiness was anticipated 7 years ago by an excellent book that's still worth reading today: Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, by Tim Sanders, a former Yahoo! executive.

I read it about 5 years ago and fished out my notes, to share with you here, in the hopes that you can use its lessons to get more clients like your best clients -- just as Zappos does.

In a nutshell, Sanders argues that business as warfare ain't the way to go. Instead, true success comes only when you care genuinely about your clients and other "bizpartners."

Spreading your "bizlove" is "the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your bizpartners."

What intangibles should you share? Here are two of the most important ...

Your knowledge -- everything you've learned in your life. Sanders recommends reading as much as possible, as much like a student as possible. To wit, make notes in your books so you can grasp the big ideas, then share them with customers, partners, and friends.

When Love is the Killer App was written in 2003, blogging wasn't yet widespread and Twitter didn't exist. Today, these two tactics let you quickly share your knowledge with as many people as possible.

Your network -- all the people you know personally and professional ... and all the people they know. Like knowledge, your relationships increase in value the more you share them. Sanders suggests you become a "connector" and serve as a hub for relationships that add value to the lives of your clients and others.

Example: If you sell dry cleaning services and you know the best tailor in town, wouldn't it make you look like a hero in the eyes of your customers if you shared that relationship with them? And wouldn't it profit your business if that tailor referred others to you?

Too bad it took a big, hairy, audacious, billion-dollar success story like Zappos to reawaken so many people to the idea that loving your clients is good for business.

But smart companies like Nordstrom, Land's End, Southwest Airlines, and The Vermont Country Store have "loved" their customers for years.

Forget client service. Do you love your clients?

And do you show it to them, by delivering an experience that's exceptional? Remarkable? Something that leaves clients feeling like they got more than they paid for?

You'll know that you're spreading "bizlove" -- and delivering happiness -- when you see it: Clients who are excited to buy, who buy again, and who refer others.

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