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What We Learned from 9/11: Marketing Edition

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A day after the 10th anniversary of the tragedies in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, its time to reflect on what we've learned.

By putting these lessons into practice in our lives – from personal to business – not only are we recognizing the incredible sacrifices made, we're also honoring the memory of those we all lost.

We all have feelings, experiences, and thoughts surrounding 9/11 and its aftermath. In no way are we trying to be disrespectful towards the memory, but look at the tragedy as a lesson.

Out of great loss comes great meaning.

With respect, we're going to examine what we've all learned since and how it applies to business practices.

Remember, lessons can come from the strangest of places.

Though we're going to focus mainly on business lessons, all of these can be applied to everyday life.

Integrity

For inspiration, just take a look at the incredible sacrifice our men and women in arms have done on our behalf for the past 10 years.

Above all, integrity is having a strong moral core and acting in respect.

By sticking to your beliefs – in this case, your business' mission and purpose – you remain true to your word.

Be true to your customers. Be true to your products. Be true in your conduct, not only towards your customers but also to your staff, vendors, and competitors. Integrity is honesty: in practice, manner and thought.

It isn't even worth it, and more importantly, you'll never gain a lifelong customer if you act without integrity.

Marketing Lesson:

Don't fudge with the truth. If your product does X, then don't promote it for doing Y. The biggest culprits are those "vitamins" shown on late-night infomercials that aren't necessarily regulated. You'll never know this unless you can squint and read the fine print trailing across the screen. If you act this way, you're deceiving your customers. The fine print is a formality; don't make it so.

Grace

Take a close look at the actions taken. From 9/11 heroes to people working day in and day out on behalf of the victims of the tragedies, each person is working from the heart, from a place of honesty.

Grace is a mindset. Grace is a way to function and operate.

Working from a point of grace is difficult, especially in the ever-changing, complicated and competitive world of business.

We all want to be successful and work for a company that thrives and grows.

But, at what cost?

The image of your business? At the cost of your customer base?

It's incredibly hard to not succumb to the "quick and easy." It's incredibly hard to not lower yourself and your business in order to capture new customers and function on a level of your competitors.

If being graceful were easy, then everyone would do it.

Marketing Lesson: Let's be clear – we're not talking about grace stemming from a spiritual point of view, but rather a place of honesty. Promote your products and services as they are. Avoid the "fine print." If it's that important, especially from a legal standpoint, then be bold about it. Educate your customer base and ensure they know everything.Loyalty

Especially in New York City, first responders, from all backgrounds, stormed the city to provide support and aid to their brothers and sisters. Even those firefighters, nurses, police and paramedics dropped what they did in order to help out.

A true measure of a business of quality and substance isn't how well they treat new customers, but older ones.

Often, getting after the new is exciting, open to numerous possibilities and, frankly, exciting.

With a great business, their customer base, those that have been with them from the very beginning, are treated with respect. These loyal customers are to be treated with deference.

Your regular customers are what drive new business to you. These are the ones that talk to their friends and recommend your products.

Marketing Lesson: Review your customer list and highlight those that have been with you for years and are regulars. For your email subscribers, send out a loyalty promotion, thanking them for being with you. Do the same for your SMS and fax marketing customers. Review everything that has to do with your customers. Offer loyalty cards for customers that visit you in person. Send them a free gift or a great promotion. Honor these people; they made you what you are.

Compassion

Think about Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. A handful of incredibly brave people stormed the cockpit, hoping to prevent further destruction. From phone conversations, those passengers onboard knew about the situation in New York City. They recognized what was at stake, and tried to prevent another devastating attack.

It's selfless. And, for business, compassion is never focused on the bottom line.

Compassion is the unwavering devotion to other to help in any way possible.

Big business has a horrible reputation for forgetting everyone outside their realm. To them, it's all about the money. Scary conglomerates are fed by money and power but remain soulless.

Being compassionate, from a business point-of-view means that you're invested in the well being of your customers, staff, and community. Being compassionate means you're selfless and acting in the interests of others before yourself.

Marketing Lesson: Dedicate part of your efforts to give something back. Whether its money, time or donations of products, it doesn't matter. Give where you can. Donate a part of your proceeds to a worthwhile charity. Pledge that for every product you sell, you'll give away ten.

So, what have you learned personally or professionally from 9/11? Share with us.

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