Help! My Business is Growing

Building better business relationships through appreciation marketing, with Curtis Lewsey

May 31, 2024 Kathy Svetina Episode 78
Building better business relationships through appreciation marketing, with Curtis Lewsey
Help! My Business is Growing
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Help! My Business is Growing
Building better business relationships through appreciation marketing, with Curtis Lewsey
May 31, 2024 Episode 78
Kathy Svetina

One of the most creative and simple ways to grow a business is by taking the Appreciation Marketing approach. It’s a strategy that can help you strengthen your relationships with your customers by showing your appreciation and that you genuinely care about them. 


It's a common problem in many businesses. You might just be too busy to stop and take time to acknowledge your customers, partners, and even those in your network. You might be focused on making sales or just not sure how to go about building these connections without coming across as insincere or inauthentic.


But by using Appreciation Marketing strategies, you can stop yourself from alienating your customers and instead grow a loyal following. This will in turn, lead to increased engagement with your business and your sales. 


The sad reality is though when companies fail to show genuine appreciation, they can alienate their customers and miss the chance to grow a loyal following. Even worse, the competition can quickly take over and leave them behind. 


But what exactly is Appreciation Marketing? 

How does it work? 

How can you use it? 

And how does it help grow your business?


In this episode, Curtis Lewsey and I discuss Appreciation Marketing and its impact on building genuine relationships with customers, partners, and stakeholders. We explore what it is, how it works, and how to implement it effectively for long-term success.


Curtis Lewsey is the Author of Appreciation Marketing ® and Founder of AMcards.com. With over 15 years of experience in the sales and marketing industry, Curtis has carved a remarkable path by understanding the true essence of relationships. He is the co-author of the national best-selling book, Appreciation Marketing® - How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude. He then started AMcards which helps businesses implement an automated Appreciation Marketing® Strategy - a simple, inexpensive, and highly effective system for long-term follow-up with real greeting cards.



We discuss: (timestamps)

02:35 What is Appreciation Marketing

03:43 The financial impact of Appreciation Marketing

13:57 Appreciation Marketing as a better approach to making sales

16:35  Building meaningful relationships through personalization

24:30 Automation can help streamline personalization.

33:30 Generic vs personalized gifts

37:32 Actionable steps to take to implement Appreciation Marketing



Resources:

Curtis Lewsey , Author of Appreciation Marketing ® and Founder of AMcards.com
 https://amcards.com/

LinkedIn -
https://www.linkedin.com/in/clewsey/

Email -
Curtis@AMCards.com

Author -

Appreciation Marketing, How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude

Sign up for a free card at https://amcards.com/

Get your Free Audiobook from Curtis at appreciationmarketing.com/audiobook


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/


Blog post | Building Better Business Relationships Through Appreciation Marketing



Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

One of the most creative and simple ways to grow a business is by taking the Appreciation Marketing approach. It’s a strategy that can help you strengthen your relationships with your customers by showing your appreciation and that you genuinely care about them. 


It's a common problem in many businesses. You might just be too busy to stop and take time to acknowledge your customers, partners, and even those in your network. You might be focused on making sales or just not sure how to go about building these connections without coming across as insincere or inauthentic.


But by using Appreciation Marketing strategies, you can stop yourself from alienating your customers and instead grow a loyal following. This will in turn, lead to increased engagement with your business and your sales. 


The sad reality is though when companies fail to show genuine appreciation, they can alienate their customers and miss the chance to grow a loyal following. Even worse, the competition can quickly take over and leave them behind. 


But what exactly is Appreciation Marketing? 

How does it work? 

How can you use it? 

And how does it help grow your business?


In this episode, Curtis Lewsey and I discuss Appreciation Marketing and its impact on building genuine relationships with customers, partners, and stakeholders. We explore what it is, how it works, and how to implement it effectively for long-term success.


Curtis Lewsey is the Author of Appreciation Marketing ® and Founder of AMcards.com. With over 15 years of experience in the sales and marketing industry, Curtis has carved a remarkable path by understanding the true essence of relationships. He is the co-author of the national best-selling book, Appreciation Marketing® - How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude. He then started AMcards which helps businesses implement an automated Appreciation Marketing® Strategy - a simple, inexpensive, and highly effective system for long-term follow-up with real greeting cards.



We discuss: (timestamps)

02:35 What is Appreciation Marketing

03:43 The financial impact of Appreciation Marketing

13:57 Appreciation Marketing as a better approach to making sales

16:35  Building meaningful relationships through personalization

24:30 Automation can help streamline personalization.

33:30 Generic vs personalized gifts

37:32 Actionable steps to take to implement Appreciation Marketing



Resources:

Curtis Lewsey , Author of Appreciation Marketing ® and Founder of AMcards.com
 https://amcards.com/

LinkedIn -
https://www.linkedin.com/in/clewsey/

Email -
Curtis@AMCards.com

Author -

Appreciation Marketing, How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude

Sign up for a free card at https://amcards.com/

Get your Free Audiobook from Curtis at appreciationmarketing.com/audiobook


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/


Blog post | Building Better Business Relationships Through Appreciation Marketing



Kathy (host):

Curtis, welcome to "Help! My Business is Growing."

Curtis (guest):

Thank you, it's an honor to be here.

Kathy (host):

So glad you're here. We're going to be talking about appreciation marketing, which is one of the marketing strategies that you can use for the business. And when we first connected, I was really intrigued by this concept because you don't really hear a lot about it. So, my first question right now is, what exactly is appreciation marketing?

Curtis (guest):

Well, in the grand scheme of things, appreciation marketing is sending out without expectation of trying to get something in return. So when you think marketing, you think, "What am I going to send out? What am I going to get? How many leads can I get? How many can I close? What's my return on investment?" All this stuff is marketing. One of the harder things to break down and evaluate is, when I take care of my customers, when I send birthday cards or reach out in kindness without expectation of getting something in return, what does that do for my business? Building the goodwill so people want to talk behind my back in a good way. And why do they want to come back to the business and send me their friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, to send me the business? So in essence, appreciation marketing is sending out without expectation of trying to get something in return.

Kathy (host):

So, you know, as a finance person, I gotta ask this. You're putting probably some resources in terms of money and people when you're doing that. It sounds great, but how does that really turn into a financial benefit to you? This is one of the things because, honestly, it sounds great. But if someone's thinking, "Okay, I understand this, but I still need to get something in return." What is your answer to that?

Curtis (guest):

All those studies that are out there show you that it costs upwards of 10 times more to get a new client than it is to retain an old one. And the number one reason why somebody is going to go and do business someplace else is they don't remember you. In some cases, of course, they're going to remember you. But the number two reason is perceived indifference, which is a fancy way of saying they don't think that you actually care.

Curtis (guest):

So when you simply show up in their life and show that you care, there are some things that you don't have to spend money on. It might cost you time to pick up the phone and wish somebody happy birthday, pick up the phone and say, "Can you believe it's already been five years since we've worked together? I just want to thank you so much for being so loyal and for your trust. Over the years, sending so many people my way just means the world to me."

Curtis (guest):

You see on Facebook or Instagram, maybe you're connected to some of your clients. Maybe you see somebody has a grandbaby. When you go on Amazon and buy a little something and have it drop-shipped to their house, get it gift-wrapped, and type a little note. Or you go to Edible Arrangements or Uber Eats and drop something. Those are little things where you're adding deposits, and those deposits add up and compound.

Curtis (guest):

So one of the things that you might want to look at is to say, "Okay, well, this client is worth X amount of money per year to me. Could I carve out 1% of that revenue and reinvest it back into that client?" So what if that client is worth $10,000 to you? What could you spend $100 on them over the course of the year? Are you going to maybe do something for the holidays? Do you want to do something that's more memorable?

Curtis (guest):

I'll give you an example. This is appreciation marketing at its finest. I was helping a mortgage broker years ago, and he had a coach. This was back in the day when I was first getting started. He told me he paid his coach $5,000 a month. I was like, my jaw almost hit the floor. Now I have a lot of people that pay coaches much more than that in different areas of their life. And I was like, "Wow, what do you get for five grand?" And he told me, "Well, the biggest thing is accountability."

Curtis (guest):

And one of the things that his coach just told him recently was that he needed to take his top 20 real estate agents that he worked with and go and stalk them on social media. Like, be friends with them, literally go into their interests, their likes, who they follow. Say, "Oh, that person went to a Tom Petty concert. This person loves Tom Brady," or whatever it may be.

Curtis (guest):

Now, in that industry, you can only spend a certain amount of money. It's like 25 bucks or something. There are certain things that you can do that you can write off, and other things you can't. And then there are regulations, no less like that in the finance world as well.

Curtis (guest):

So here's what he did. He went and he said, "This person loves Tom Brady. He's from Massachusetts, but he lives here in Florida and he's a real estate agent." And he bought one of those big foam fingers on eBay for like five bucks, and it said "New England Patriots," and it was the old school logo. Then he found an old picture of Tom Brady from college when he was playing in Michigan. He bought the picture, went to the dollar store and bought a little frame, put it in the frame with the $5 foam finger. He spent like $10 on this.

Curtis (guest):

And then he had his assistant help wrap it all up. He handwrote a letter, put it all together, and set it aside for the birthday present that year. But the birthday was three or four months later. His coach told him to do this for all 20 of them and do something memorable, something outside the box.

Curtis (guest):

Did it take time? Yes. Not much money. The amount of traction that he got on social media posting, everybody posted, everybody was tagging him. They were like, "Oh my God, this guy is great." And he's like, "Curtis, the return on those types of investments is hard to even calculate because one turns into another."

Curtis (guest):

Some real estate agents, they might send you a little business, they might send this person a little business, they kind of sprinkle it around. But when you do something like that, you're the only one in their mind that's going to take care of their loans going forward.

Curtis (guest):

So when you do those types of things, add value, it's really how you show up in people's lives. You get to lead by what you do. You earn repeat and referral business by who you are and how you show up in people's lives. Think about how he's showing up in people's lives. And then you can audit and take a look and say, "How am I showing up in people's lives?"

Curtis (guest):

Because, you know, if you look at all your customers as dollar signs and decimal points, then there's a chance that the lens they look at you back is you're to them, it's like maybe just a transactional piece of a transactional company as well. Or you think of them as a transaction, they may think of you as just a transaction as well, and they're easier to take their money elsewhere.

Kathy (host):

Yeah, exactly. And when it's a transaction, it's so easy to go to some other guy or gal that's cheaper than you because there really is no differentiation. As you were talking about, especially in terms of now, people really being excited and posting on social media.

Kathy (host):

I know this is kind of a sad example, but it's a perfect example that I have come across in my life. Chewy.com is a pet store. And what they're really known for is when people have trouble with their pets, like if a pet passed away, they will actually send flowers to the owners and send their sympathies.

Kathy (host):

I will tell you, I mean, I have a 20-year-old cat, and I am getting ready for that moment at this point. But I've heard a lot of people talking about this on social media, on Facebook, LinkedIn, wherever it might be, of having that experience with Chewy. And now when I'm thinking of what am I buying for the cat, where am I buying it, I always go to Chewy. Not because I'm expecting something from them, but because it feels like they really care about their customers and that they're bending over backwards to make you feel comfortable, cared for, all of that stuff.

Kathy (host):

It's interesting. You might not have that experience yourself, but you see other people having that experience, and it automatically makes you more warmed up to a particular vendor than someone else. Interestingly enough, I can get cheaper stuff on Amazon, and I won't buy it on Amazon. I'll actually go to...

Curtis (guest):

Well, that's amazing. Yeah, that's definitely something to consider for anybody who's in business. It's like, how do you become the one within your network? Because see, everybody has this invisible door that's behind them that only they can open.

Curtis (guest):

I have a lot of people in my life, Kathy, that you don't know, that you might want to meet someday. And we build this relationship, and we have a level of trust. I know what you do. I may have a perfect fit for you in the future, may not be right away. It may be down the road.

Curtis (guest):

And you want to be able to have that. When I went to Australia years ago and I spent six months there in 2012, that's 12 years ago now. And I didn't know anybody. I was looking to build and grow a business in another country. So I went to these networking events, and I went there to first give, to see what I could do.

Curtis (guest):

So I was connecting with people, all different parts of Melbourne, Australia. And then I was tying people together and introducing people. I built some lifelong friendships, business relationships, because of me connecting different people. And because I wasn't there trying to sell first, I was there trying to understand what their business was.

Curtis (guest):

Yes, I was educating them on what was possible, what I had. But some of the best connections I made wasn't through them. It was them liking me and saying, "You got to meet my friend." Next thing you know, I'm doing a presentation in front of 100 people. I would have never had that if I said that I'm trying to get.

Curtis (guest):

See, that's kind of like appreciation marketing. It's figuring out ways that you might be able to add value to somebody, and then the law of reciprocity just kicks in. People want to try to do something and go out of their way to try to help you. I've grown a really big business because of that.

Curtis (guest):

In the book that I wrote called "Appreciation Marketing: How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude," we talk a lot about that. And when I say that you get to lead by what you do, you earn referrals and repeat business by who you are and how you show up in people's lives.

Curtis (guest):

One of the things I like to tell people is that the real fortune, people think the fortune's in the follow-up. "Got a lead, call them, drive to sell them, close them on to the next." The real fortune in the follow-up lies after the sale. Think about that for a second.

Curtis (guest):

I worked with a lot of car dealerships. And in the car dealership world, a lot of the mentality is, "Let's close out the week, close out the month, worry about next month when I get there." However, the people at the top, the people that actually invested in the company, people who have partners, ownership interests, they're trying to look next quarter, next year, few years down the road. And they're more apt to make investments that are going to help secure their future paycheck.

Curtis (guest):

And the smartest business owners will realize that one of their greatest assets are employees. You got to look at the employees as the greatest asset that you have. And then, you know, you got to take care of your customers. So if the second greatest asset is your customers, what are you doing to be able to stay in front of them?

Curtis (guest):

We're so focused on grabbing that next sale, getting that next piece of business. And this was me for a few years right out of college. I sold toilet paper, air fresheners, and soaps. I knocked on every door, every store, and every floor trying to sell that for Cintas Corporation. I learned a lot.

Curtis (guest):

And then I started transitioning, and I started realizing what are the biggest competitive advantages in all of business and life? Thank you. Being appreciative and being genuine and authentic in that approach.

Kathy (host):

Was there anything specific that happened when you realize, especially, you know, when you were selling toilet paper? And I mean, that is pretty transactional. What I think in my head, like, is there anything that was specific that happened, then you realize that light bulb went on and say, "Hey, there's a better way to do this"?

Curtis (guest):

Yeah, the number one sales rep made twice as much money as us. And he worked half the amount of hours. And I thought the company was just feeding him leads. And what I realized was, he had eyes and ears all over the place feeding him business. 

Curtis (guest):

So you're tied to last sale. So you start over really at zero every day, every week, every month, every quarter, every year. And so there was no recurring revenues, if you will, like for a salesperson, you get paid salary, you get commission on what you sell, it gets turned over to customer service. 

Curtis (guest):

This guy, he looked at the drivers. So when you sell an account, the driver drives a truck weekly, and takes the dirty laundry or the dirty floor mats or changes out the toilet paper and the air fresheners and the soaps and that kind of stuff, right? So this service, a business service that we're selling. Well, all those drivers were all his friends. 

Curtis (guest):

And when you're driving on the back street, and you see a sign that says "Under New Management" or "Coming Soon," that's a perfect opportunity to get that phone call. Because usually the first one in the door gets the business. They don't need your services after they open but they can sign that contract ahead of time and be ready for it on opening day. 

Curtis (guest):

Well, he had so much business coming his way. And then I didn't realize this little strategy. And then what he was doing was making sure that he appreciated when something like that happened. He'd give them a $25 Applebee's gift card, or he'll buy them lunch, or he'll meet up with them and have a beer. That's the kind of stuff he was doing, like what friends would do.  

Curtis (guest):

And so when he told me that, he says "Curtis, you need to get to know people a little bit more for who they are, not just what they do. If you're looking at everybody as what they do, you realize who they are, what they do might feed who they are, who are they as a person in real life, what do they like? Because this is what they do to maybe generate an income to provide for their family, but what are their passions? What do they do outside of work? Where do they like to travel? What do they like to eat? What are their hobbies?" Those types of little things.

Curtis (guest): 

And I'm not saying you need to get to know everybody like that, but there are certain people, what if you have a referral source that feeds you business? And you get to know them and understand them, then you're the only person that they're sending business to. 

Curtis (guest):

Anyway, that clicked for me when he said that to me, and then I started focusing on how maybe it's not as transactional. But maybe there's other people that I can build relations with that's going to help me work smarter, not just harder.

Kathy (host):

I mean, what I'm hearing is, it's a lot of it's based also on creativity. So you have to be a little bit creative to think outside the box. But if you're trying to implement this, like, what are some of the things that you could do to get yourself to be creative about this? 

Kathy (host):

Because, I mean, I've seen this, sometimes people will send, you know, wines and these gift baskets and stuff, which is fine, it's great. But what really moves the needle, from what I've heard so far, is making something meaningful. And it doesn't have to be expensive, like, you know, the Tom Brady picture, it just has to be meaningful to that particular person. 

Kathy (host):

So how do you find those meaningful things about your referral partner? Or about your future, hopefully, the repeat customer? I mean, do you stalk them?

Curtis (guest):

You know, there's, in some people listening to this, they may be like, "That's kind of creepy. I don't have that type of connection with my customer." Like, there's, that's a little bit different. Yes, I get that. But there's also some people that, you know, customers have become friends, referral sources, like look at that as an extension, like they're bringing you business and you want to make sure that you, it's just keeping your antennas up.

Curtis (guest): 

If you do happen to follow some of these people on social media, or you happen to follow them on LinkedIn, or whatever it may be, you can see that they post certain things. Like, "Oh, this one person, oh my gosh, they just adopted a little boy." Beautiful. Recognize it. 

Curtis (guest):

So when you can go out of your way to appreciate, recognize, or congratulate with things, not just a comment or a like, or a love on social media, but taking it to that next step. 

Curtis (guest):

For instance, I have a lady that I know, she's, I've known her probably 10-15 years, she's very influential in a certain industry. And she's a world-sought-out speaker, trainer, consultant. And we're just talking the other day, and then I saw her daughter posted on Facebook, and tagged her so I saw it. And it was a collage of pictures saying happy birthday to her mom. 

Curtis (guest):

I texted her that day, and I actually just spoke to her a few days before that, and wished her happy birthday and everything. But I took that picture, I downloaded it, ran it through a photo enhancing program. And she goes, "Oh my god, I love that so much. I want that in a picture frame." 

Curtis (guest):

I'm going to do it, I'm going to actually print it out, put it in a picture frame and I'm going to mail it to her. She may get another one, maybe she'll have it up in her office and another one someplace else. But I'm going to do it for her. Those are types of things that people will never forget.  

Curtis (guest):

For instance, I own AMCards.com. And so AMCards, I built as a solution, especially for salespeople for follow up and for staying in touch and doing something in a creative way. Well, you can take pictures and turn them into greeting cards. You can have your own signatures, you can also pre-schedule cards and say, "I want birthday cards for the next five years to go out. I want happy anniversary of doing business."

Curtis (guest): 

Like, okay, you signed a contract, or you bring on, you onboard a new client. Next thing you know, like that might be June 1, 2023. Well, June 1, 2024 is coming up. You can have a card automatically go out saying, "Can you believe it's already been one year since we started working together? Wow, time flies. Just want to let you know how much I appreciate you and your business." 

Curtis (guest):

You can have that scheduled and that still feels very personalized. And you can attach a gift or a gift card to go out if you wish. So there's a lot of things that you can do. I built that, for that reason, to be able to help create some automations and build it into workflows if they want to, but then also be able to do the most impactful one, which is the one-off heartfelt, one-to-one, download a couple of pictures.

Curtis (guest): 

I also use it for prospecting purposes, too. So I'll give you an example. I have this big car dealership, and they sell 1,100 cars a month between three locations. And the owner, one of the owners bought a restaurant last summer. And how I found out, I put a Google alert on his name. So I would be notified if something got posted on the internet. 

Curtis (guest):

And I saw that he was written up in an article in Daytona Beach. I took the article, screenshotted it, made it into a card and sent it to him. That card helped land me an in-person appointment with him. And I mean, it'd be a very large account if I land it. And I think I'm getting closer. You know, I think that we're going to do it. It's just a matter of timing for him. We will. But once we get it started, it won't stop. It's one of those things that they're investing in their future.

Curtis (guest):

So, you sell a car, in the next three to five years, they're getting, you know, cards and gifts and stuff like that. So, yeah, there's a lot of things you can do. I think that one of the biggest things is being intentional, and slowing down. 

Curtis (guest):

I was taught a long time ago, sometimes you really need to slow down in order to speed up, to go fast. And this is one of those things. So I actually, we launched like 30 car dealerships in the last 30 days. And those are big accounts for us. 

Curtis (guest):

And so I have one of my people on my staff now reaching out to the comptroller who handles all of the financials, and they're the ones approving the ACHs or whatever. So, I'm going to reach out to them and say, "Hey, we'd like to practice what we preach. Do you mind please sending me over the birthday of the general manager? And you know, this person and any of the other key people that you think that we should be sending cards to." 

Curtis (guest):

We'll get that data, build it in. And then I have notifications in our CRM that's going to make sure I'm notified ahead of time. So I can do some personalized stuff. Like after we launch, I'm going to send them a charcuterie board, and say, "I'm so glad that we could cut a deal, appreciate you." You know, it's just something corny, it's funny, but I want them thinking about us. And I want them with a smile.

Curtis (guest): 

And when they pay that check, they have no problem because, you know, what we're providing far exceeds what they feel like they're spending. And then it's harder to service like that, when it's wrapped around emotion, and you're leading with your heart, because what we're doing is making them look really good. 

Curtis (guest):

They're sending birthday cards. When was the last time you got a birthday card personalized in your mailbox? Very few. And if you do, maybe one, maybe two. Most of it's like a text message GIF, or a meme. Like that's what people get these days.

Kathy (host):

I mean, it was just my birthday about a month ago. And I got three birthday cards. It was from my physical therapist, from my financial advisor, and from a friend. And I got super excited, even though I knew, and I will tell you, this is so funny, I knew that the financial advisor and physical therapists, they're basically sending the same cards to everyone else. But I got super excited because I'm like, "Look at that, I got a card!" It's so funny, in physical...

Curtis (guest):

Print is more emotional. You know, we have everything's digital these days, and nothing really gets turned into print. So when you do something, it makes you stand out. And isn't that the purpose in business - to stand out, to be different? And that's kind of what you want to look at.

Curtis (guest): 

And, you know, I think that's a good rule of thumb, like I mentioned before, one to one and a half percent of your commission, or gross. Like, you know, I try to have a car dealership, if they make $3,000 on a car, they should be able to carve out 30 bucks and invest in that customer over the next three years, $10 per year for three years. They pay for it upfront. There's no reason why they shouldn't be able to do that.

Curtis (guest):

Even like a real estate agent that might get a $10,000 commission, they should be able to find $100 to $150. Now they're probably going to buy a closing gift. But then what's even more important than the closing gift is remembering them a year later, two years, three years, four years later. Because one client in the real estate world could be worth $150,000, $200,000, $250,000 in commissions over the lifetime. 

Curtis (guest):

You know, when if you had a couple, few dozen of those people in your life that over your career are feeding you a deal or two a year - my cousin, my sister's coming into town, you know, all that kind of stuff. So it's just something to consider. When we get so caught up with trying to get that next piece of business, we oftentimes forget or take for granted what we currently have.

Kathy (host):

And you know, there's ways to automate that. And AMCards automates a lot of that stuff. But if you were trying to get to a more personal level, like we've talked about, you know, with the Tom Brady example, obviously you can the ideal probably would be to use both of them so that you have more touch points. 

Kathy (host):

But if someone's listening to this, they say, "Oh, my goodness, that is a lot of... that's a huge time commitment. And that seems to be a lot of effort." Is there anything that you can do to make this more streamlined, to have even the stuff that it's highly, highly personalized, put it into some sort of a workflow so that it's easier?

Curtis (guest):

Yeah, and sometimes, you know, easier is not always better. You could say, "Hey, I have a virtual assistant. Awesome. I'm gonna have them call." But you wouldn't have your personal assistant call your best friend on their birthday and wish them a happy birthday for you. You just don't do that. Some certain things you don't want to outsource. You don't want to outsource your own heart. 

Curtis (guest):

There are certain things that, like when I mentioned about the anniversary of doing business, or a birthday card, you can make that highly personalized. And you can have it automated as well, at the same time.

Curtis (guest):  

However, real-time things that happen, I would also audit your database and take a look at it and really scroll through and take a look and say, "Who are my A, B and C? Who are people that I've done business with? Who are people that I haven't done business with, but have referred me business?" That could be an A, as well.

Curtis (guest):  

"Who are the people that potentially could be a huge referral source for me? Who are the influencers in my life? Who are the people that could completely, drastically put my business to a whole nother level, if that person sent me the types of business?" And that's a longer-term play.

Curtis (guest):

I'll give you an example for that. I have a RE/MAX agent in Virginia who was in a networking event, and asked for an HR manager of a certain specific company that does government contract work. It's a big, big, big company. And they do a lot of relocations, a lot of people coming to town, flying in, that's going to put their roots there. And other people that are relocating to another location or another division.

Curtis (guest): 

He sent a card with a box of brownies to the HR manager, because somebody knew that person and said, "Hey, I met this person. I would love to meet with you. I'm the local property expert here in the area. And I would love to be of value and a resource for you and your new position." 

Curtis (guest):

They accepted to go for coffee, they met in person. This one person sent over a couple of people that were coming to town. And next thing you know, within months, it was 10 deals a month. Over 100 deals a year came from one connection. Blew up their business. 

Curtis (guest):

And so, was that one person that could put your business to a whole nother stratosphere? And so for me, I mean, I could really say, "Okay, maybe it's a dealer car group that has 50 locations." Imagine if that person liked me enough to roll it out to all 50. That's not a play that's probably going to happen in a week or two. I'm gonna get in front of that person eventually. And then I got some creative, outside-the-box things that I can do that can send to them to capture their attention. 

Curtis (guest):

And maybe there's one person out that 50, that's going to pilot it for us. We go above and beyond, make it so smooth and such an awesome experience for them that they can't wait to tell everybody else in the group. That could be life-changing for me.

Curtis (guest): 

So that kind of stuff, if you think about that, in terms of your business, and also like, "Who are the top customers?" Like one dealership is equal to over 100 to 150 real estate agents for me. So the time to land a dealership might take about the same amount of time to land 100 to 150 real estate agents. But then managing 100 to 150 with customer service and all that kind of stuff versus one, I look at my opportunity costs. 

Curtis (guest):

I might want to spend a lot more money to acquire this customer over here because, you know, the future is brighter. And, you know, like, so there's when you're saying like in your financial perspective, so when you break it all down, where's my time best spent? And where are the opportunity costs? If I'm saying yes to this, I'm saying no to something else.

Kathy (host):

Exactly. And then there's also, you know, not all money is good money. Because if you say yes to something, it's going to take a lot, like you said, you know, with a real estate agent, it's going to take a lot more resources. You're going to have to scale the operation, you're going to have to have more expenses with that. 

Kathy (host):  

Versus if you have one dealership, you already have the operation set up. And just adding one more, it's not really going to make that huge of an impact as if you have 150 people that now you have to service and give customer support and all that. 

Kathy (host):

So it matters to do that analysis before you, I think before you start nurturing these relationships and trying to figure out where do I put my appreciation marketing efforts. It pays off if you take a step back and say, "Okay, who should I really go after? And how is that going to affect the business if they're starting to send me all this business? How is that going to change my business? And in what way, in what capacity? And how is that going to affect the... you know, am I able to service these people?" It goes back again, you know, not all money is good money.

Curtis (guest):  

There's a lot of strategies that you can put in place. Here's another strategy. What do you think about the saying "Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated"? Let's apply that to referrals. 

Curtis (guest):

Let's say somebody sends you a referral. You may not sign the contract, you may not earn a commission check, that deal might never ever come through. But one way to ensure that you may never get another opportunity is to completely blow it off and not even really recognize that that person went out of their way to send you a referral. 

Curtis (guest):

Now, if you reward the behavior of somebody sending you a referral, you go out of your way to show your appreciation and gratitude, whether it's a small gift, or a phone call, or a handwritten letter, or whatever it is that you do to let them know how much that means to you, there's a really good chance that even if that one doesn't close, there's a good chance that another one may in the future, because you'll get more opportunities when you're that appreciative. 

Curtis (guest):

And then after it does, reward the behavior. And then if something does transpire, and something goes through, if it's legal for you and it's okay to share, because there's some industries like the medical profession, you can't go back to the person who referred and say, "Now they're my client, and I'm working with them," because of HIPAA violations. I think there's certain industries that you can't do that. But there's other industries that you absolutely can. A real estate agent, if they refer their cousin, they can go out of their way and do something extra special and nice for that person.

Kathy (host):  

And in finance, even in the medical profession, it could just be a simple thank you, thank you for sending that person over.

Curtis (guest):  

Yes, but no reference of that they became a client or not, because there's certain... My sister's in the medical profession, and I was trying to get her to send referral cards, maybe little Starbucks cards or something like that. And she's like, "I have to be extra careful. I'm not even supposed to talk after they send them my way." Technically, there's catches in certain industries, of course.

Kathy (host):  

You're right. I mean, if you're a psychiatrist, psychologist, those can get really hairy. But I mean, for regular ones, like, for example, for me, I'm in professional services, a fractional CFO. I always say thank you. I mean, at least you can do is say thank you. Generally, I'll send a gift, a nice gift there as well. I mean, it really depends on who's sending the referral. But then go out of your way. 

Curtis (guest):  

Because what happens if somebody sends you something, and they work in an office with other people that might be similar to them in their nature? And they send you, I mean, I would go out of my way and send Uber Eats some cannolis, and some brownies and cookies, and a cake or do something where I just send it over there. 

Curtis (guest):

And next thing you know, this big gift shows up, and they're not going to eat it all themselves. They're going to pass it out to everybody. "Who sent this?" "Oh, it was Kathy. I sent her over a referral." "Oh really? My person never does that." Just to get them talking. 

Curtis (guest):

Send it to their work. I have done that many times. I have somebody that works in an office and might be an insurance agent. And then next thing you know, I send them a big box of brownies, and then they're sharing them with everybody. 

Curtis (guest):

And I'm not doing it because I'm trying to necessarily... I'm doing it because I know that they're probably going to talk about me. Of course, I want to show my appreciation to that person. I don't say, "Here, share it with everybody. And if anybody else could use my services, let me know." But then you're going. Then what happens is you're sending to try to get something in return. You're disguising it as appreciation and gratitude. 

Curtis (guest):

Chapter five of my book is called "Chocolate Frosted Dog Crap." And that's exactly what it is. If it's your birthday, and I send you a birthday card from afar, it looks like a piece of chocolate cake with frosting on it until you open it, until it gets in front of you. And I set this cake down and you're like, "That's not chocolate cake. It smells." You can literally smell it. It's crap. It goes in the garbage. It doesn't land with a warm and fuzzy.

Curtis (guest): 

The same thing as if I was to send you a birthday card that says, "Happy Birthday. Hope all is going great in your business and your family. P.S. The greatest compliment in the world is a warm referral. Oh, by the way, I'm never too busy for your referrals." Then it becomes a piece of marketing. I'm disguising it as appreciation and gratitude. And it's what we call sending out propaganda crap. 

Curtis (guest):

So that's kind of... I do share that because when you're doing this, you want it to be genuine, and you want it to be authentic, because if it comes across, it could actually do more harm than good.

Kathy (host):  

What is your opinion on these gift baskets and wine and sending these types of gifts without actually really understanding what the other person likes? I mean, I call them just generic type of gifts. Do you think that they do you any favor or they're actually a disadvantage?

Curtis (guest):  

Well, I feel like number one, if somebody receives that and they think negatively of it, I almost feel like there's something wrong with that person. You're going out, you already tried to do something nice, you're trying to do something. Maybe it lands differently. 

Curtis (guest):

If somebody says, "Well, I told them that I don't drink and they sent me wine," then that's a little different, because you're not listening to your customer, you're not listening to the person. However, I have a drink from time to time. However, if somebody sent me a basket, or wine or something like that, I would go out of my way to say, "That's really nice of you. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. That's nice." 

Curtis (guest):

Even if I don't drink it, I might bring it to the next house I go to. I'll bring it as a gift when I go to somebody else's house for dinner. It's kind of... And I'll have it at my house when somebody comes to my house to drink. They have something there. And I'll store it.  

Curtis (guest):

And the other thing too is some people get to the point where they're like, "You know, that's great. I feel guilty, because I haven't... I just..." Well, it's never too late to appreciate. If you have that in the year and say, "Well, geez, this happened back in December, and I still feel guilty." Tell them you feel guilty. It might be amazing. 

Curtis (guest):

Say, "Hey, I've been feeling guilty since December, because I keep thinking of you. And I haven't officially thanked you for going out of your way or picking my daughter up from school when I was tied up. It means a lot to me that you're always there to help me." Whether it's a next-door neighbor, or a friend's parents or something.

Curtis (guest): 

When you start doing that, and get in the habit of doing it not just in business, and you do it elsewhere. My business partner, he sells private jets for a living. He's an executive at a huge private company. And he gets in the habit of sending six cards every day, but they're not always business. Some are personal, some are business. 

Curtis (guest):

I remember 10 years ago, he was doing this years and years ago. He sent it to his bus driver, his brother's kid that it brings to and from school every day. And he goes, "You know, this guy, every day is waving to me when I bring my son out to the school bus." And he goes, "I just kind of sent him a card thanking him for bringing my son safely to and from school every day. And that means the world to me, because my son means the world to me. Therefore, I appreciate you and everything you do." 

Curtis (guest):

The guy got off the bus, shook his hand with a tear in his eye and said, "I've been driving bus for like 13 years, and I've never had anybody say thank you." That's awesome. 

Curtis (guest):

So when you get into a habit of doing that kind of stuff, it starts getting addicting, and it starts making you feel really good. Because you're getting text messages and emails and... AMCards are not the only way. It's just I feel like it's one of the best ways because nobody does it anymore. Showing up in a mailbox makes you stand out. 

Curtis (guest):

Buy a stack of cards at hand or go to Walmart, go to Walgreens. With AMCards, people can sign up for free and send a card. I just think that it's just being able to make it personalized with a picture. And doing something like that to make it above and beyond.

Curtis (guest): 

I had somebody run a marathon and they were raising money for their kid who had surgery at Boston Children's Hospital. It was life-saving surgery. And they ran it to raise money for the Boston Children's Hospital. It was big, near and dear to their heart.

Curtis (guest): 

People that train for a marathon, that's a lot of work. I mean, I ran two half marathons before, and I had to get medical treatment at the end of both of them. So I have a personal appreciation for that. I'm like, "Wow, that's a lot of training. That's a lot of work. Good for them." 

Curtis (guest):

Then they crossed the finish line and you take that picture, and put it on a card and send it to them. Number one, they're never gonna throw it away. Number two, they think of you differently, because they're like, "That was really nice." People have intentions, but then never act on them. 

Curtis (guest):

So just being intentional. And if I could give people just one thing that they can take away from this podcast and say, "Okay, I want to implement appreciation marketing. Where do I start?" Because there's a million things that we just talked about. We just talked about a lot of different things.

Kathy (host):  

That is exactly where I was going with. So you have... you have shows that you've been listening to other episodes.

Curtis (guest):  

So if there's just one thing that you could take away, here's what I would do. Time block appreciation marketing for 30 minutes in your calendar next week. So what day is it that you're listening to the podcast? Let's say you're listening to this podcast on a Wednesday. I would pick next Wednesday, and time block 30 minutes and type in "appreciation marketing." 

Curtis (guest):

Now if you do nothing between now and next Wednesday, something else will fill up that 30 minutes and you will not end up doing anything because you don't have anything planned. Here's what you're going to do over the next seven days. You're going to keep your antennas up. And you're going to recognize, appreciate or congratulate somebody and you're going to look for different opportunities. My guess, maybe five to seven. It might be more, might be less. 

Curtis (guest):

Give you some examples. Maybe somebody's dog just passed away. It's a family member. And you want to recognize that. Maybe you want to send an AMCard, put the Rainbow Bridge poem in there, take the picture of the dog that just passed, put it on the card, and just write a little message. I've done that. People call me with tears in their eyes, trying to hold back, be choked up.

Curtis (guest): 

Maybe somebody just had a baby. Maybe someone got promoted at work. These different life events that are meaningful. Maybe their daughter just graduated college, and they got the cap and gown on, you got the family picture. 

Curtis (guest):

So what I would do is on my phone, in my notes, I would have a running list or email yourself and don't open it and just in the subject line, just put... in the subject line. So then the following week, when you show up to your own appointment with yourself for appreciation marketing, you have five to seven things that you can check off. 

Curtis (guest):

Now what's gonna end up happening is over the course of the following week, when people are getting these cards, you're gonna start feeling what it feels like to go out of your way to make somebody else's day better, to put a smile on somebody else's face. And then you do that consistently, week in, week out. You do five a week for a year, you have over 250 different times that you've actually touched people. 

Curtis (guest):

Four years down the road, four years is going to come and go, you do that 1,000 times. I'm only one person. You might do it two or three different times over the next three or four years. But you're going to be looking for these different opportunities and people don't forget this stuff. 

Curtis (guest):

Heck, my high school assistant baseball coach... I never even realized that I hand-wrote him a card. So my high school baseball coach, assistant coach, he passed away from cancer a few years ago. And it didn't make it... I feel really bad. I didn't get a chance to make it home for his services. 

Curtis (guest):

Somebody took a picture of a note that I wrote him. I don't remember. But I graduate high school and I wrote him a heartfelt note of what it meant for him, all the years and all the hours that he spent on the baseball field and practice field and thanking him. 

Curtis (guest):

He had that... He had a box that was in his bedroom that he put meaningful things in. And that box was displayed at his funeral. Somebody took a picture and I was all choked up. I was... I don't even remember that note. But wow. How can you show up in somebody else's life to make that box?

Kathy (host):  

That's beautiful. Curtis, I got goosebumps just listening to you. Please tell us where can people find you?

Curtis (guest):  

Online, Curtis Lewsey on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Starting to get out there a little bit more. The book is "Appreciation Marketing." It's on Audible. You can listen to it. I think we got to update our... We just got a whole big shipment. We ran out. And so there's a whole bunch more that we should be uploading to Amazon here soon. 

Curtis (guest):

But Audible is great. You can also go to appreciationmarketing.com/audiobook. You can listen to it for free. You can download it for free. Give it away as a gift. 

Curtis (guest):

Now, one thing that I would recommend, if you like the idea of sending some cards, go to AMCards.com. Sign up for free, send your first card for free. And then there is a member of our team, they'll probably reach out to you. And if you want to do a demo and learn a little bit more, that's great. 

Curtis (guest):

If you mention that you're on this podcast, I'll make sure that my team waives the entire $199 setup fee. And so there's no contracts and people can just get started with a low membership. So if they just mention the podcast... You'll sign up for free and then you'll see that you have to pay $199 as a system license one time, but I'll make sure I cover that for you. If there's something that you see as a fit for your business and stuff like that.

Kathy (host):  

Awesome, Curtis. That is so very generous of you. I really appreciate it. So if you want to take that offer, go ahead and do it. You will have all of the links and all of the social profiles from Curtis in the show notes. So please go ahead and do that. Thank you so much, Curtis.

Curtis (guest):  

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you and it was an honor to be here today.

What is Appreciation Marketing
The financial impact of Appreciation Marketing
Appreciation Marketing as a better approach to making sale
Building meaningful relationships through personalization
Automation can help streamline personalization.
Generic vs personalized gifts
Actionable steps to take to implement Appreciation Marketing