Jun 08 2010

The Soft Side of Business

Helping the needy 


doesn’t mean


competitors will 


eat you for dinner



  In fact, quite the contrary. When you slow down or stop your business-wheels long enough to reach off your merry-go-round and help some of those who can only afford to stand off to the side and watch you calliope-music your way around in circles, you are investing in your community . . . and ultimately in your own business, if you’re smart enough to make it newsworthy.

“Charity starts at home” isn’t just a sarcastic jab at humor.

But most businesses either fail at trying to make newsworthiness out of nothing, or at thinking that efforts to proclaim newsworthiness out of acts of generosity somehow taints the integrity of the charitable offerings. Both are wrong. First of all, the public is not stupid. People can see through thinly-veiled acts of self-proclaimed greatness with one eye shut and both hands behind their backs.

Don’t invent situations in order to gain favorable news exposure and publicity. Editors typically reject such self-serving efforts, and even when something does manage to slide by and end up getting attention, the public sees it for what it is.

But when your business does something heartfelt to help someone or group of someones, don’t be overly timid about spreading the word. Why? Isn’t that too much like bragging? Doesn’t that rub people the wrong way to be tooting your own horn?

The truth, since you asked (okay I asked for you) is that the more exposure your business gets for having sponsored an employee fundraising for some worthy organization or situation, the more you will have primed the pump to prompt others to follow suit. Then what? Then you will have shoe-horned (have you ever seen a shoehorn?) in even more helpful acts than your own.

The soft side of business — whether it’s charitable fundraising, or giving an employee or supplier or community family the support it needs to get through a crisis, or sponsoring a neighborhood clean-up project, or donating products or services or time, or providing technical or administrative back-up to a local or regional nonprofit organization — can work wonders for business reputation.

People (your customers, clients, patients, and prospects) BUY reputation! Connect the dots.

You haven’t time for all the solicitations at your doorstep? That’s like saying you haven’t enough time to learn time management. Ask for someone in your organization to follow a criteria list you hand off to screen applicants and make periodic recommendations for situations that fit inside the annual or semi-annual or quarterly budget you set and insist on.

When the tax-deductible budget is spent, solicitors go on a waiting list, or apply again next year. Make sure arrangements are made for news release announcements before and after (at least) every event, with content that’s always focused on the benefiting individual or organization, and always urging others to get on the bandwagon (or your merry-go-round!).  Soft is good.


Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

God Bless America, and God Bless Our Troops 

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Dec 03 2008

Small Business Rocks (when it’s not too busy dancing solo!)

Every business


 has a responsibility 


to those who support, 


patronize, and service it. 


     I just heard a great radio commercial about two competitive antique stores right near each other that urged listeners to visit both places!  Can you imagine? 

     Do the businesses in your town cooperate and help one another, or do they seem to be out for themselves?  Is business cooperation real or just given lip service?

     Local business organizations seem to breed more in-fighting and one-upmanship games than genuine teamwork efforts to support the growth of area business.  One exception appears to be the Market Street “arts” or “creative” district undergoing major revitalization in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.

     Unfortunately, however, business teamwork face-liftings like this are rarely the norm.  “There’s always a small band of energetic active members,” reports one frustrated chamber of commerce leader I spoke with recently, “but they can never seem to put a fire under the others — the majority.  Our more aggressive businesspeople end up going under, over, or around the rest of our membership.  Our efforts are not nearly as representative of the town’s businesses as we like to think they are.”  

     One Virginia merchant chatted freely about her refusal to be involved because, she says, “All these organizations are the same: they collect dues, fees, subscriptions, and donations and either do nothing to promote business in town because they can’t agree on what to do, or they do things that benefit only a few businesses — the most active, or the biggest (which of course pay the highest amounts).”  

     “She’s right,” chimed in a neighboring business owner who happened by.  “Or, the other extreme is that whenever one of these so-called business organizations ends up doing something, it gets so completely screwed up because it ends up being done in such an unbusinesslike manner.  It’s embarassing!”  Hmmmmm.  Y’think?

     A New Jersey retailer/friend said, “Every year, I get membership sales pitch calls from the local chamber of commerce, the county chamber of commerce, the state chamber of commerce, the national chamber of commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Small Business Administration, the local merchants’ association, the Better Business Bureau, you name it!  If I could afford all these memberships, I’d be making so much money I wouldn’t need their help!”

     Add to this list, solicitations from youth and senior groups; athletic teams; health and education  programs; charitable organizations; community food banks; fire and police departments; EMT and first aid squads; state police; high school and college organizations, and on and on. 

     Every one most certainly a worthy cause.  It’s simply that running a financially successful-enough business to be able to afford to help all these fine folks when they come knocking at the door becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible.

     The best way to avoid the upset feelings that accompany making (or not being able to make) these kinds of contributions is to be sure to budget them in as a normal cost of doing business, to stick with what you’ve bugeted (and tell unexpected solicitors you’ll consider them for next year’s budget, or simply include a contingency fund in your budgeting for “emergency” situations). 

     Of course it’s also worth remembering that the vast majority of these causes is tax-deductible, and –most importantly– that every business has a responsibility to the community that supports and services it, and to the support services in that community!

     As for building more cooperative and more supportive attitutes between neighboring businesses, tune in tomorrow!   halalpiar   

# # #

See Nov 29th post (below) for New Year’s contest prize and rules – Then GO FOR IT!  Emails to Hal@TheWriterWorks.com with “SOUNDS OF THE SEASON” in the subject line.  # # #

Check out and contribute to the daily growing 7-Word Story started 85 days ago (inside a coffin).  Click on the link to the right, or go to the “BOOKS” tab at the top of this page, then to the top headline link.

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