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If you've ever spent time on LinkedIn in the past year, you'll find that it is filled with searches looking for the "best" marketing and customer acquisition programs. Instead of another buzzworded corporate messaging cookie cutter strategy, our marketing plan focused on a very simple practice: gratitude. Studies show that gratitude is a great win-win for both the giver and the recipient.
There is one caveat, however – it has to be authentic.
So what now? It is all well and good to talk about gratitude as a concept or an idea, but it is only effective when practiced on purpose. Where do we start?
1. Start a “gratitude inventory” list.
Gratitude is something that can be practiced at any time of the day for any reason. However, when we are trying to develop a mindful attitude of gratitude towards other people, it can be helpful to have a list. A simple list of names with email addresses or phone numbers is sufficient. It's also good to have contact information on hand so you can stay consistent. An additional tip is to include a picture of the person on your gratitude list. The mere sight of their face triggers emotions and memories, and can help us take action to let them know how we are feeling.
Your gratitude inventory can be broken down by category or the type of gratitude you want to express, such as:
Related: The biological reason to practice gratitude
2. Set simple gratitude goals.
The goal here is not to create just another pointless to-do list item on your endless list of things to do. It's about creating clear, simple reminders for yourself to express your gratitude in an organized way while showing the intention to be grateful. The people in your life are very special, and you probably have dozens who would like to hear something as simple as a hearty "thank you" or "I thought of you recently and …"
Look for opportunities to say thank you. But don't thank people insincere. Sincere, real thank you is what people remember. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember what it feels like when YOU receive a real thank you. There's nothing like it in the world, is there?
3. Write handwritten notes (and think about thoughtful gifts!)
Almost all communication these days is digital. The Covid pandemic has simply accelerated forces that have already changed our world. Globalization, the ever-increasing power of technology to "connect" with apps like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, and enforced distancing have made it harder than ever to make real human connections with prospects, customers, and even people to build things that are important to us and that we love.
In my experience, writing handwritten thank you notes is a powerful way to break through the noise and give people a tangible, physical token of your sincere thanks. Nowadays kids may say this is old fashioned, but people naturally like to receive confirmation that someone has gone beyond sending a text message or email.
Two professors from the University of Chicago and UT Austin showed that sending notes underestimated how pleasantly they would be received and overestimated how awkward it would be to send a real, tangible note.
Related: Why Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective
4. Communicate the results of your gratitude work with your team.
Share any positive feedback, comments, and emails you get from your gratitude campaign and have a day for the team to talk about who to send thank you letters, ideas for other gratitude initiatives, and positive outcomes to. It feels good and these vibes will inspire and motivate the team for next week's gratitude campaign. The results begin to condense.
If you don't get together and share, positivity becomes isolated. This is an important point that is often overlooked and causes your gratitude to become a one-time cause rather than an ongoing practice ingrained in your company. Share your gratitude stories and how people reacted to you. All of these specific details have the potential to ignite your team internally and get the positive energy flowing.
Personally, I like the idea of “Thankful Thursdays”. People are in a good mood on Thursdays as the weekend is fast approaching. You can build on this by setting this day as your day to send thank you notes, share gratitude with your team, and share stories about how gratitude has affected your customers' lives in a positive way.
5. Acknowledge others who practice the gratitude and gratitude philosophy.
Building a trunk of gratitude practitioners not only feels good, but can also lead to meaningful business outcomes. For the most part, people who have made gratitude a priority have strong, vibrant networks of other fantastic people with whom they have deep relationships. How many times have you met someone with a huge "network" but all of them are superficial relationships?
Finding other gratitude practitioners is the best way to exponentially increase the effectiveness of your "gratitude marketing plan".
The best part about the whole gratitude campaign is that in the end you will find that it was never about getting more deals or more sales for your business. Expressing gratitude is one of the most profound ways to enjoy your life, and all business results are just the icing on the cake. After all, solid relationships are not only the key to business success, but the most important factor in living longer and more fulfilling lives.
Related: How to Practice Gratitude as a Business Skill