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Why Gratitude is the Best Marketing Plan Ever

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you’ve ever spent any time on LinkedIn over the past year, you’ll find it stuffed with search queries looking for the “best” marketing and client acquisition programs. Instead of another cookie cutter corporate messaging strategy filled to the brim with buzzwords, imagine if our marketing plan focused on a very simple practice: gratitude. Studies show that gratitude is a major win-win for both the giver and receiver.

However there’s a caveat — it has to be authentic.  

So now what? It’s all well and good to talk about gratitude as a concept or an idea, but it’s only effective if it’s practiced with intent. Where do we start?

1. Start a “gratitude inventory” list.

Gratitude is something that can be practiced in any moment of the day, for any reason at all. But, if we’re trying to cultivate a mindful attitude of gratitude towards other people, then it can help to have a list. A simple list of names with email addresses or phone numbers will do (it’s also nice to have contact info handy to keep you consistent.) An additional tip is to include a picture of the person on your gratitude list. Simply seeing their face triggers emotions and memories, and can help us take action towards letting them know how we feel.

Your gratitude inventory can be broken down by category or what type of gratitude you want to express, like people you want to thank or even a certain list of people you admire but have never told.

Related: The Biological Reason to Practice Gratitude

2. Set simple gratitude goals.

The goal here is not to create yet another mindless to-do-list item on your endless list of things to get done. It’s to create clear, simple reminders for yourself to express your gratitude in an organized manner while bringing an intent to be thankful to the table. The people in your life are extremely special and you likely have dozens that would love to hear something as simple as a heartfelt “thank you”, or “I was thinking of you recently and…”

Look for opportunities to thank. But don’t thank people disingenuously. Genuine, real thanks is what people remember. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember how it feels when YOU get a genuine thank you note. There’s nothing like it in the world, right?

3. Write handwritten notes (and consider thoughtful gifts!)

Almost all communication is digital these days. The Covid pandemic simply sped up forces that were already transforming our world. Globalization, the ever increasing power of technology to “connect us” with apps like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams and enforced distancing has meant that it’s harder than ever to build real human connections with prospects, clients and even people we care about and love.

In my experience, writing handwritten thank you notes is a powerful way to cut through the noise and give people a tangible, physical sign of your honest thanks. Kids these days might say that’s old school, but human beings naturally like to receive an acknowledgement that someone went above and beyond sending a text or an email.

Two professors from the University of Chicago and UT Austin demonstrated that people sending notes underestimated how pleasantly received they’d be and overestimated how awkward sending a real, tangible note would be.

Related: Why Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective

4. Communicate the results of your gratitude outreach with your team.

Share all the positive feedback, comments and emails you receive from your gratitude outreach and have one day when the team can talk about who they are sending thank you notes to, ideas for other gratitude initiatives and positive outcomes. It feels good and those vibes will inspire and motivate the team towards next week’s gratitude campaign. Results will start to compound.

If you don’t come together and share, the positivity becomes siloed. This is a huge point that’s often missed and causes your acts of gratitude to become a one-time thing, rather than a consistent practice that’s ingrained into your business. Share your gratitude stories and how people responded to you. All of these specific details have the potential to ignite your team internally and get the positive energy flowing. 

I like the idea of “Thankful Thursdays” personally. Folks tend to be in great moods on Thursdays with the weekend fast approaching, and you can build on that by designating it as your day to send thank you notes, share gratitude with your team and tell stories about how gratitude impacted your clients’ lives in a positive way.

5. Recognize others who are practicing the gratitude and thankful outreach philosophy.

Building a tribe of gratitude practitioners not only feels good, but can lead to meaningful business results. More often than not, people that have honed in on gratitude as a priority tend to have strong, vibrant networks of other fantastic people they have deep relationships with. How many times have you met someone with a huge “network”, but they all tend to be shallow relationships?

Seeking out other gratitude practitioners is the best way to exponentially grow the effectiveness of your “gratitude marketing plan.” 

The best part about the whole gratitude campaign is that in the end, you’ll discover it was never about winning more deals or more revenue for your company. Expressing gratitude is one of the most profound ways of enjoying your life and any business outcomes are just the cherry on top. After all, robust relationships are not only the key for success in business, but the biggest factor in living longer, more fulfilling lives.

Related: How to Practice Gratitude as a Business Skill

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