These are words from “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” a well-known Christmas carol. Though now seen by some as politically incorrect (good will toward all vs. just men!), the sentiment is something we should all strive to achieve. As people in business, the question we all grapple with is how we incorporate “good will” into our marketing efforts.
Most businesses consider good will as part of their public relations efforts. The dictionary describes good will as “an attitude of kindness or friendliness; benevolence; cheerful acquiescence or willingness; a good relationship, as of a business with its customers.” A more intellectual definition is “the positive reputation of a business viewed as an asset, equal to the excess cost required to acquire the business over the fair market value of all other assets.” Doesn’t sound very festive. So how do you show “good will toward all?” Only during the holidays? Or all year long?
What are the motives for giving back to the community? Some do it in order to get good publicity, have their name affiliated with a visible cause (Jimmy Fund, Rotary, Hospice, etc.) and to get some publicity in the local paper. Others do it quietly for personal reasons. The important thing is to get involved with something that matters to you. If you’ve lost family members due to cancer, strokes, or heart disease, for example, get involved with organizations that support these causes. If it’s just for the publicity, it shows and people know; it will ultimately work against you. The campaign years ago, “Practice random acts of kindness” reminds us to act from the heart to help those in need. Sure, sponsoring an event, wearing a shirt with your company name on it, etc. are good for your business, but make sure the organization means something to those involved.
Volunteering your time is something many people never consider. Our society has become so self-focused that many kids these days have never spent any time doing something for others unless there’s something in it for them. Larger companies often offer incentives to encourage their employees to volunteer their time to worthy causes and organizations. If you have a child who’s preparing for college, you know the importance this plays in their college application. What do you do yourself? And how do you encourage your staff to follow suit? You’ll get so much more from the experience than the folks you’re helping.
Charity Begins at Home
The holidays can be a very difficult time for those who have experienced loss or are alone not by choice. It’s so easy to get swept up into the frenetic pace of the season ~ take the time to notice who in your life could use a visit, an invitation to a concert, a reminder that you care. This could be family, friends or clients. If giving gifts, it’s never too late to make a donation to a charity in the name of your clients, friends or family members. Yes, it’s a deduction on your tax return, but it’s also a way of ‘giving back,’ helping those in need in honor of those who mean the most to you.
Take action from the heart and you’ll be remembered with a smile ~ you can’t buy that kind of good will.