How to Boost Your Business with the Power of “Nice”

A woman facing the sun and riding the swing up in the air

I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for many years now. People here tend to be plain-spoken, straightforward and friendly.

Add the power of nice to your marketing

But this past week, I’ve spent some time in Nashville, TN. Here in the south, I’ve seen the power of “nice” in action. What does it look like?

  • It’s a clerk who takes the time to walk you all the way back to the part of the store you’re looking for (instead of just pointing it out and telling you where to go).
  • It’s a restaurant owner who works at the front desk taking names and chatting with customers as they wait to be seated.
  • It’s a young woman on an elevator who you’ve never seen before — and will probably never see again — who turns to you and asks “How are you doing today?” on the trip to your floor.

If you’ve spent a long time living in a place where people are a bit introverted, Southern hospitality might freak you out little at first. It’s unexpected, and catches you off guard.

But once you get used to it, you can’t imagine interacting with people any other way.

Which, of course, makes it an excellent marketing philosophy.

Read on to learn how to inject your marketing with some sweet Southern hospitality, y’all.

Say hello

Storefront businesses:

  • Greet your customers when they walk through the door. Make eye contact. Smile.
  • Make sure your employees understand why you do what you do. Then give them the freedom to make decisions about how they’ll implement your business philosophy where it counts: with your customers.

Online businesses:

  • Make it clear what you do and who you serve from the first moment someone hits your site. Make sure your business name is communicating this clearly. If not, be sure your tagline is taking up the slack.

Slow down and get to know your customer

Storefront businesses:

  • You’re lucky: you can see and interact with your customers in person every single day. Make it a point to ask good questions when you do, and look for unmet needs and places where you can offer solutions.
  • Host live events, tastings or samples, and exclusive sales. Invite a select group in early. Show up, shake some hands and get to know them in person.

Online businesses:

  • Ask customers to take a survey, and give them plenty of space to add their own answers.
  • Host live online events like teleclasses and webinars which allow for interaction and conversation.
  • Invite customers to connect on social media and get to know them on those platforms.

Guide them to what they need

Storefront businesses:

  • Make your merchandise easy to find. Organize it logically, and use clear signage.
  • Show your customer to the part of the store they’re searching for. On the way there, let them know where they’ll find the best bargains.
  • Make sure your customers know about everything you offer. Create a “menu” of services and products and put it at your register.

Online businesses:

  • If you do business on the web, make your navigation menu crystal clear. Consider a page like this to show prospects what you have for them.
  • Offer buying guides, comparison charts or quizzes to help people find what they need to solve their challenges.

Follow up on purchases

Storefront businesses:

  • Make sure your customer leaves knowing how they can contact you if they have an issue with their purchase.
  • Publish your website address on your receipts. Share your customer service email address or 800 number.
  • Ask customers to join a mailing list so you can stay in touch post-purchase. Offer them discounts, exclusive events and content created just for them in exchange for their email address.

Online businesses:

  • Make sure your customer knows you care just as much about them after the purchase as you did before. Check in to see if they’re satisfied or if they have any questions.
  • Start a long-term conversation by inviting prospects to join your email list. But don’t just demand they sign up. Offer them a gift. Need ideas? This post shares plenty. And these webinars have even more.

Make yourself accessible

Storefront businesses:

  • Man the front counter or sit at the front desk occasionally. This gives you invaluable access to your customers: don’t waste the opportunity for direct interaction!

Online businesses:

  • On your website, share your contact information beyond social media links. Share a mailing address and phone number, too. Even if your business is completely virtual, you can do this safely if you get a business mailbox and use a Google Voice or Skype phone number.

Southern hospitality is just plain good marketing. What can you do to apply it to your business? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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17 thoughts on “How to Boost Your Business with the Power of “Nice””

  1. I’ve lived in the South almost two years now and the Southern hospitality still blows me away. Strangers make eye contact on the street and say “Hi.” I have short conversations with people everywhere I go.

    Every time I’m leaving the grocery store (a regional Southern chain) I get asked once if not several times by the bagger AND the store manager (if he’s walking by), “Need help out?”

    Being “nice” is under-rated. It makes the simple day-to-day so much more pleasant. You’re absolutely right, Pamela: Carrying that over to your online presence goes a long, if subtle, way.

  2. I think this is so important. I send a card to a custmer every week, old or new. I also send a welcome letter when I get a new e-mail address. And i have a monthly short newsletter to keep them up on things. When I get a new customer I also will e-mail them after they purchsed to see if they liked it. I worked in retail for 40 years and great custmer service is always number one with me.

  3. For the record, I’m from Pennsylvania too, and I would do ALL of those things. 🙂 (But maybe that’s ’cause I grew up in Florida :). But I know what you mean… funny, as I’m exploring the meaning of ‘grace’, and ‘graciousness’, I love that I idea of Southern hospitality in your marketing. They do really make you feel welcome and home and wanting to hang around a while and chat. Will definitely keep this mind as I look at my website again. I have been told I make it easy, but I’m sure there’s room for improvement.

    • Thanks, Gina! People in Pennsylvania are friendly too … it’s just doesn’t play as big a part of our culture as it does in the south. Experiencing it firsthand got me thinking about how a little extra “nice” in our marketing might be a good thing.

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. 🙂

  4. Thank you Pam! As an etiquette coach, the power of “nice” in ALL aspects of our lives should never be forgotten. I too am a Pennsylvania girl and love PA resident’s “niceness” – yet there is certainly something very warm about that southern hospitality!

  5. I’m so glad you got to make the trip to Nashville! Great post. I really like how you made so many connections between our southern hospitality and running a great marketing effort.

  6. I totally agree with everything in this article. I’ve seen too many people toss aside others because they are not their “target market” but in reality … everyone you meet can add some value to your life, whether they purchase your product, refer you to someone else, give you some kind of advice that you were needing at that moment, help you think of new directions, or even just infect you with their energy and kindness. Everyone you meet has value – it is up to us, as small business owners, to stop and recognize that value, and to use it in our relationships with everyone around us.

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