Over on Vario Creative Blog, Mark Cahill has a post that has nothing - and everything - to do with marketing.
Mark's post is ostensibly about his woes in trying to dig up from under the storm that blasted New England this weekend. It was one of those snows-followed-by-rain that turned nice fluffy snow into slush that weighed like cement, which was followed - this being New England - by a freeze that turned the whole mess into something that set like cement.
While Mark struggled to snow-blow his driveway, followed by numerous failed attempts to get a plowboy to help him out (the stuff was destroying snow plows), he did run into some typical small town generosity. Read Mark for the long story, but his Samaritan not only stopped to help, but stopped by again to make sure that Mark was okay.
The result for the service station where the Samaritan worked is a rave reference and very likely a few new customers.
This was not, of course, the reason the Samaritan stopped to help - but it was the result of it.
Mark's post reminded me that service is not just for customers. Sometimes it means telling a prospect that you're not right for them - or that you're too busy - but that you can make a referral for them. Sometimes it means telling a prospect that they don't need what they think they need at all, even when it means lost revenue for you. Sometimes it means giving away an idea that's no use to you, but plenty of use to them, even when you know you're not going to win the business.
I've never been that fond of the saying "what goes around, comes around," but it sure can be true.
Sometimes the best long-run way to help yourself is to help others - without expecting anything in return.