Does it make sense to clap for your customers? It does not, you answer. You may be right, for the conventional way is for an audience to clap for a speaker, preacher, performer, artiste, player, or marketing professional making a presentation.
Can this be reversed? Yes it can, and whoever pioneers it will certainly blaze the trail for a new communications order that can bring profitable results. And it means that in these hard times, it certainly makes business sense to clap for your audience, especially your customers, so that you can sell more. That may sound odd but it is a different kind of sound, the sound of wisdom and common sense. But how do you rationalize this? You ask again. Let us begin from the fundamentals.
I have always advised marketing professionals to go against conventional practice and begin to clap for their customers. Doing so would be unusual but that is what will guarantee unusual results in the unusual marketplace now. Why? Because the dynamics of the global economy have become very unusual, and so have the players, regulators, customers expectations, and competitor strategies. To get and hold the attention of your clients, customers, you have to clap for them so that you can prosper.
You no longer have to wait for your audience to clap for you, no matter your spectacular marketing performance. Begin to clap for them to show appreciation and maintain their loyalty. If they clap for you for impressing them, clap louder for them in return so that you can sell more. Sometime ago, the banking industry in Nigeria was jittery over a fake list of distressed banks that was circulating. No one knew the origin of that list but it was an unusual competitive strategy which the Central Bank of Nigeria frowned at, branding it de -marketing. And so, if market forces become unusual, why don’t you adopt unusual marketing strategies that are not illegal to consolidate your hold on consumers, increase market share, and improve bottom line. You want to tighten your hold on your customers or clients, begin to clap for them. And clapping in this sense is figurative, not necessarily with your hands. It is marketing clap.
Does marketing clap differ from hand clapping? Not really. It is just that the actions are different, but the motive is the same. Hand clapping is when you hit your open palms together several times to show appreciation, approval, or enjoyment over some activity, game, performance, or demonstration.
Hand clapping is an action that communicates a message that you are pleased. And it is spontaneous and done repeatedly in quick succession. That means that you hardly clap for something you do not approve of. And you cannot clap with one hand.
Watch the person who claps. She smiles, her eyes beaming with delight. In many cases it is accompanied by loud cheering and ovation. The result is a contented person, spectator, or participant expressing delight with clapping of hands and a beaming face.
Clapping is an expression of delight, a thank-you action, a friendly gesture, and an indication of welcome, support, and encouragement. Above all, it is an action that says, I value you, I encourage you, you are excellent, you have done well, please keep it up.
In soccer, when spectators at a stadium clap and roar, they are appreciating good play. And when they cheer their team, they are encouraging the players to play better and score goals. The message is clear: You have to clap to prosper.
Cheering is a step ahead of clapping and both actions show the nature of your audience. When your audience claps for you, they are spectators that appreciate you. But when they cheer, they become your supporters. So the challenge for you as a business owner, CEO, or a marketing professional is to clap for your customers/clients and motivate them to become your supporters. They are the audience you need in these unusual times to remain competitive and to prosper.
Spectators differ from supporters. The former stand by you when the going is good; when you are doing well, winning, and getting results. But the fact of life and business is that you may not win always. That is when they abandon you and switch loyalty to your competitors until you get your act together.
Not so for supporters. They stand by you always in the best and worst of times. They can even strengthen their support by forming a Supporters Club. Where you go, they go. Where you stay, they stay. When your performance drops, they cheer even louder. They detect your weaknesses and point them out to you like technical advisers of football teams.
So you can imagine what happens when you empower your spectators (customers) to become your supporters. You will thrill them so much that they will become life members of your brand, business or club. That means there is no going back in their business relationship with you. And so when you clap for your audience, you are reversing the thank you order. You are effectively saying, “Thank you for thanking me”. You have to clap to prosper.
Have you considered how refreshing it would be if teachers clap for students, state governors clap for citizens, parents clap for children, bosses clap for juniors, marketing directors clap for sales managers, masters clap for servants, husbands clap for wives. It will unleash a social and marketing upheaval of more sales, of change and contentment in homes, schools, the sales force, and the workplace. Morale would surge; sales increase; relationships improve; old wounds healed; bitterness, resentment and forgiveness erased; courage developed; and customer loyalty strengthened.
Marketing claps go beyond hand claps, and they can improve your bottom line. You think it will not work? Try this. If your daughter is reciting a poem and suddenly misses the lines, begin to clap for her and even cheer. You will suddenly see her confidence build up, mental faculties re-organize, and she quickly remembers her lines and completes her poem. That is how it works. Clap for your customers and clients, you will boost their confidence, promote loyalty and patronage, and transform them from spectators to supporters. Besides, they will see your humility. Nothing thrills an audience when they see humility inside excellence. It is a winning combination that guarantees effective leadership, marketing thrust, and big returns.
There lies the secret of clap and prosper, a process that begins with excellence, humility, and dovetails to more sales. These qualities stand out in a marketplace that is choked with pride and fraud.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth demonstrated this when He washed the feet of His disciples telling them that whoever wants to lead the pack should be the servant of all. That is wisdom. Clapping for your customers may go against conventional practice, but it is wisdom. And what do the scriptures say about wisdom in the book of Proverbs 8: 18-19, and 21. “Riches and honor are with me. Enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth”.
Dear CEO’s and marketing professionals, humility goes with wisdom. Humble yourself by clapping for your audience. How do you do that? In so many ways. If you give long service awards, you are clapping for your employees. When you use sales promotions, loyalty and reward programs in marketing your business, you are clapping for your customers. Wherever there is no reward for loyalty, customers remain spectators and hardly become supporters.
When a state governor builds infrastructure and implements programs that improve quality of life, he is clapping for the electorate. When he was campaigning on the soap box for their votes, they clapped for him. Now is the time to clap for them.
When a church organizes a crusade or retreat and serves free refreshments and accommodation instead of asking for tithes and offerings, it is clapping for the congregation saying “thank you” for coming. You have to clap to prosper.
When a service provider lowers tariff or offers free service for a certain period, it is clapping for its customers.
Same way for corporate bodies and professionals. Change your marketing communications strategies for the time has come for you to clap and prosper. Do not delay.
Eric Okeke is a motivational speaker, business writer, copywriter, and corporate storyteller. He is one of Nigeria's most experienced financial journalists. His strenghts are writing, speaking, humor, publicity, and corporate storytelling. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org