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Friends. Faux Friends. Gougers and Moochers.

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Good & Evil - Friend or Faux Friend

Friends Are Good

Does simply saying I’m your “Friend” make me your “Friend”?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”  I agree with Ralph, a friend is someone sincerely interested in your well being and acts like it.

 Words don’t make us friends, actions do.

Faux Friends Are Not So Good

Let’s say I’m a small business owner and service provider.  I could be a Nail Technician, an Attorney, an A/C Repair Guy, a Wonder Woman Real Estate Agent a Botox Dealer or any other service provider you’re likely to call on.

In this story, I’m a Nail Technician and you’ve booked a Queen Of The Nile Mani/Pedi Special.  I’m excited, appreciative and  I do a fabulous job.   You feel Cleopatra Pampered and we had fun chit-chatting.  Yea!  So far so good.

You thank me.  I hand you the bill.  Your smile falls off your face.  Through clenched teeth you hiss, “Why so much Ken?”  I smile reply, “Well. . . you’re my friend.  My going rate is 65 bucks, but because you’re my friend, and I need the money, I charged you $85.  You understand. . . we’re friends, right?”

In other versions of this sad story, on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, I responsibly repair your failed A/C unit.   As your whip smart Attorney friend I help you craft a Living Will.   Or perhaps I injected your  forehead with Botox.  In all cases, I hand you a bill for 25% more than I charge strangers. 

How’d you like those horse apples?  Is this friendly behavior?  Hell NO!  You’d be outraged. We wouldn’t be friends anymore.  In fact, we never were friends, I was a Faux Friend.  Agreed or am I delusional?

There’s more. . .

Is the following story any different?

She’s a service provider and empress of her own small business fempire.  She’s a Wonder Woman Real Estate agent. 

Her iPhone rings.  She picks up.  She hears, “Hi Lisa, this is Mary calling for The Donald, he’d like you to stop by his at 2:57pm . . . bring your listing papers.  He asked me to tell you he want’s to list his sprawling bajillion dollar estate with you”.  Lisa smiles smudging the screen, “I’ll be there.”  Click.

She’s excited, appreciative and on time.  

57 minutes in, her appreciation deflates into disgust when she hears The Donald say,  “So Lisa, I called you because we’re such good friends.  We were wondering how much of a discount you’d give me. . . I  knew you wouldn’t charge me full price, we’re friends right?”

Tell me.  What’s the difference between a Faux Friend price gouging  and a Faux Friend demanding a steal, deal or discount in the name of “friendship”?  My friends, there is NO difference.  The “gouger” and the “moocher” are Faux Friends.  Period.

I’m sure you would never gouge a friend.   Please tell me you don’t mooch your friends for steals, deals and discounts.  If you do, it could be that’s why Faux Friends always ask YOU for steals, deals and discounts. . .karma, laws of attraction and all that.

Steals, Deals and Discounts

Whoa!  Before you get your tighty whities in a twist, I’m not judging fee schedules or business models.  Nobody wants to overpay and they shouldn’t.  Everyone deserves and desires value.  Asking for the best possible value/price is expected and understood.  Expressed concerns, objections, comparisons, evaluations and expectations are all welcome.  A pro can only ask for an opportunity to share their story, winning or losing based on merit.  

Here’s what I am judging.  Steals, deals and discount demands cloaked in the passive-aggressive guise of friendship is completely uncool and fauxney.  It’s equally uncool to expect a friend to employ you simply because you’re friends.   Guilting friends into choosing you is unsavory and demeaning too.  Friendships get you invited to the dance.  Impressing gets you invited TO dance.

If you don’t cave and discount, you might lose an opportunity.  When Faux Friends aren’t chosen for this or other reasons, they whine, anger and bemoan.  Pro’s and Real Friends respond to disappointment with poise, pride and grace.  Be a Pro not a Faux.

Bottom Line – We have to earn business.   It’s not an Friendship Entitlement, it’s a Friendship Fringe Benefit.

Friendship Fringe Benefits

I employ my friends because I like them and I want to benefit their finances, their family and their business.  Fringe benefits of friendship include trust, fair and honest treatment, kept promises, confidentiality and comfortable communication.

Let me ask you, why do you employ friends?  If you have more than one friend who provides a needed service, how do you choose between the two or three?

How To Be Chosen – 8 Tips 

  1. Keep secrets.  Don’t gossip about other friends.  Don’t criticize, mock or belittle other friends.
  2. Be a leader.  Be responsive.  Be Appreciative. Be responsible.
  3. Deliver more of what they want and need than your competitors.
  4. Demonstrate professionalism and performance.
  5. Don’t take your friendships and de-facto selection for granted.
  6. Express gratitude.  Share.  Encourage.  Be positive and realistic.
  7. Always move from friendship mode to professional mode when conducting business or discussing business.
  8. If you dress up and show up for strangers, dress up and show up for your friends too.

Do you have some tips or pointers on how to blend a killer cocktail of friendship and business?   Share it with us in the comments.  We all thank you.

Authentic Friendship

Don’t gouge, guilt or mooch. Shine with appreciation.  Compete hard and over deliver.  Celebrate and appreciate real friends, forget Faux Friends. Win and lose with equal grace.

Thanks for reading.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo Credit:  Evil VS Good by ~hiramatsuwil on deviantART

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jayson

    March 30, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    That’s a great way to look at it – thanks for the post and the new perspective 🙂

  2. Ken Brand

    March 31, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for the thanks Jayson, rock on. Clink-cheers.

  3. Heather Lawson

    April 1, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I had a friend pit me against her brother in law to see who would give her the better deal. There was no way I could compete against her brother in law for many reasons. Needless to say, I was very hurt. I didn’t think a friend would do that to me. I would never do that to a friend. I support my friends and treat them with respect.

    Great post!

  4. Pingback: Friends are in the business world: How to tell if they're true and genuine

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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