What does it take to reach the C-suite? Or have impact? Or influence? There are thousands of studies and articles trying to identify the “secret to success”. One characteristics that varies is the degree to which individuals overtly express “gratitude” – the state of being appreciative for benefits received. The ability to express genuine gratitude not only makes the recipient feel valued and appreciated, but it makes the giver feel better about recognizing the investment of others. Because of the importance of expressing gratitude to consumers, employees, bosses, and others, I am writing a series that will share insight about how marketers can develop and leverage gratitude. I am grateful to the five female leaders who provided the below insight on how gratitude can benefit marketers and companies.
Express Gratitude to Your Customers: Christine Alemany, CEO of TBGA
“By showing gratitude, marketers are expressing their appreciation for their customers. In turn, gratitude drives customer loyalty. This reciprocity is the foundation of a brand’s relationship with its customers beyond the transactional sale. When people subscribe to your email list, share posts with friends, or follow your brand, give people something of value. Provide loyal customers with deep discounts (or free beta periods) for new products; it’s a win-win. Your customers get to test your brand’s latest products or services. In return, their unbiased input will help improve your product before launching it to the overall market. Your clients become an extension of your team.
“Most importantly, be helpful: Help them learn something new for free. Host an online seminar, send a guide, or host a lunch-and-learn that your customers can apply to their own lives and businesses. Say thank you. A simple email or follow-up call can go a long way. Ask your clients if they are happy with your product or service, and act on their feedback. Even a minor tweak will build a stronger relationship with your brand. And be transparent. The truth always finds a way out eventually, so be honest. Showing gratitude makes customers feel valued, making them more likely to return, spread the word, and—most importantly—strengthen your brand.”
To Express Gratitude, You Must Have Empathy: Haley Paas, Chief Strategy Officer, Carat US
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“Successful marketers realize that consumers have a different relationship with brands now than in the past. There is a growth in discovery platforms, like Pinterest and TikTok, encouraging people to mix up the products they are choosing. Brands need to act with gratitude and respect, now more than ever, to deliver valuable product and advertising experiences that add to their lives. The patience for bad advertising doesn’t exist now.
“Marketers can demonstrate greater value by starting from a place of empathy with their audiences. It’s hard to show gratitude when you don’t know someone and even harder when you are just placing ads in front of them without thinking through the benefit of that ad experience. Marketers can think about creating a positive value exchange as the basis of their advertising experience as a first step in expressing gratitude to the people who buy their products. Coming from a place of gratitude and creating a positive exchange through advertising will kick-start a cycle of value back to the brand.”
Expressing Gratitude To Consumers Can Help the Organization: Camilla Grozian-Lorentzen, President of KERN
“There is scientific evidence that expressing gratitude has various positive benefits on humans—including better sleep, less anxiety and stress, an overall feeling of happiness and hope to take on life’s challenges, and deepening relationships with others. In a post-COVID world where so many people are burnt out (or worse), the benefits to marketers for expressing gratitude to their consumers are enormous. Not only will the marketing team feel more positive, but the consumer will also feel more connected to the brand. The feeling of authentic humanity and empathy released by marketers expressing their heartfelt appreciation to their consumers will have lasting impacts on the loyalty and engagement of those consumers with the brand.
“At KERN, we are focused on understanding the neuroscience of decision-making and why our consumers will or will not respond to our clients’ marketing efforts. One of the fundamental driving forces of happiness and satisfaction is a feeling of trust and safety. By sharing gratitude with consumers, we are triggering chemical reactions in the brain that give them that feeling of that safety and being part of something positive. This, in turn, will pull them towards the brands that look out for their well-being.
“Studies have shown that reinforcing positive feelings between brands and consumers and companies and their employees has lasting effects of lower attrition, lower churn, and increased willingness to do more. For companies that express gratitude, this can mean better employee retention and better-recruiting efforts plus higher lifetime customer value from their loyal consumer base. Gratitude is a regular part of our operations as we embody our first cultural value to Be Kind, which seeps into how we treat our staff and our clients alike. Making teams and partners feel appreciated benefits them and all of us expressing our thanks. We are all left with positive feelings and are drawn to working together over working with others.”
Customer Support Through Recognition Can Power Brand-Company Relationships: Stephanie Trautman, Chief Growth Officer at Wipro Limited
“Authenticity in marketing is essential for success in this business environment, and expressing gratitude is one of the most authentic ways to interact with the consumers who contribute to your business. Brands that accept and implement customer feedback to improve their services or products see their customers as people instead of dollar signs, and customers show them loyalty accordingly. Plus, when clients and customers feel brands’ gratitude—when they feel they’re cared for and appreciated—they are likelier to refer others to buy or use your services. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools in existence, as it gives incredible boosts to your business’s credibility.
Engaged customers who move beyond a transactional relationship to a deeper, trusting partnership or legacy clients who have been your customer for years deserve special recognition and appreciation. This recognition and appreciation can come in several forms. When clients achieve new business milestones such as funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, or company anniversaries, it’s important to give a shoutout that you see their achievements. Clients will know that you care about the success of their business and can be a true partner. Businesses of all sizes can express gratitude by focusing on what makes their customer successful, investing in them, making special accommodations to address their needs, co-creating with them and investing with them to deliver the outcome they need. Emotional, financial or resource investments encourage the customer to connect with your brand by trying a new service or product or working closely with you to create something highly valuable to them.”
Gratitude Relationship Marketing Creates Emotional Connections: Kyla M. Jones, U.S. Diversity Strategy at RAPP
“Where Loyalty Relationship Marketing confirms and celebrates the length of the relationship (often with gifts or purchase discounts), Gratitude Relationship Marketing affirms the emotional connection valued within the relationship. If marketers solely rely on Loyalty, it marginalizes the “switchers”—those who switched brands during the pandemic. Brands should show gratitude toward those individuals who trusted them enough to switch at the height of uncertainty. Loyalty is the earned cheers and high fives; gratitude is the “just because” smile and hug. Gratitude fosters a greater purpose and closeness in the relationship, which brands should demonstrate to truly retain individuals.
[Brands and marketers should] create an onboarding experience where you intentionally give thanks for the actions completed and trust within the first 90 days. It’s a critical phase in the customer journey, setting the tone for deepening the relationship and building sustained loyalty. Beyond celebrating loyalty with surprise and delight discounts, reinforce the bond consumers are building with your brand by giving thanks and showing appreciation. The priority of mental health has rightfully shifted during the pandemic. So, send out positive vibes, infuse empathy and tenderness in communications, and create a warmth that transcends timelines and inboxes. It’s emotional intelligence that companies and marketers should create equitable space.
There are psychological, physical, and social benefits associated with gratitude. By leveraging gratitude, companies are fostering a space of radical acceptance and compassion—simply for being an individual rather than a top performer or loyal employee. Employees will feel a stronger connection to their day-to-day, realizing they are doing more than selling a product—they are helping to make a difference. Gratitude is the regenerative smile we all need during a time such as this.”
Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler