The “Pay it Forward” approach to business. A powerful marketing tool.

As my 29th year in the marketing business wraps up, I felt compelled to share a philosophy of doing business that might shock you. In fact, revealing my enthusiasm for this approach may make me look like a kook or worse. I call it the Pay it Forward (PIF) approach.

What prompts me to write this article is a reoccurring circumstance that leaves me befuddled. I find myself attempting to explain to people that I’m willing to help them in some way just because I like their product or perhaps I am inspired by their story. I don’t assume that I can help or that I’m some sort of omnipotent business savant – I just offer to help if I can. Call me kooky.

As a purveyor of PIF, I expect nothing in return for making introductions, sharing knowledge or supporting their endeavor. This lack of expectation is a challenge for many people in business that are conditioned to look for the “catch” or the sales pitch. When they find none, they pass on the opportunity because it sounds too good to be true.

As my 29th year in the marketing business wraps up, I felt compelled to share a philosophy of doing business that might shock you. In fact, revealing my enthusiasm for this approach may make me look like a kook or worse. I call it the Pay it Forward (PIF) approach.

What prompts me to write this article is a reoccurring circumstance that leaves me befuddled. I find myself attempting to explain to people that I’m willing to help them in some way just because I like their product or perhaps I am inspired by their story. I don’t assume that I can help or that I’m some sort of omnipotent business savant – I just offer to help if I can. Call me kooky.

As a purveyor of PIF, I expect nothing in return for making introductions, sharing knowledge or supporting their endeavor. This lack of expectation is a challenge for many people in business that are conditioned to look for the “catch” or the sales pitch. When they find none, they pass on the opportunity because it sounds too good to be true.

The Pay it Forward approach is not pure altruism. It does deliver a benefit for the giver. I’ve described it as dropping a nickel in the Karma bank. You quickly build a lot of karma. (That does sound kooky…) The reward isn’t a quid pro quo; it doesn’t necessarily come from the specific person you help.  It comes from the tremendous power of building what Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (authors of Trust Agents)* describe as creating a “value vacuum”.

Simply put, when you provide something of value to someone with no expectations, it creates a vacuum of value. The receiver feels a need to return value because it is a natural human instinct. The thing of value can be as simple as an introduction or an hour of collaboration or a kind word. Thus, creating many instances of people wanting to return something of value in some way delivers real opportunities. If there is a catch, it is that one never knows from where the opportunity may arise.

Fifteen years ago, I would have called this “psycho-babble hooey” or some equally dismissive word play. Now, I cannot deny the overwhelming opportunities this approach has afforded me and my business.  This is not to say I spend a significant amount of time working for no compensation. But I do dedicate some time to people I believe are worthy and can benefit from my experience. I particularly enjoy connecting people for mutual, positive impact.

This may seem quaint  in today’s cynical business world. But my uncle Bob said as he gave me the number of one of his colleagues, “If this guy sounds too good to be true – get over it. He just is.”

I’m glad I made that call.

 

*Note: If you buy Trust Agents, (and you should)  I won’t get a dime. I know Chris and he has no idea I posted this and linked to the book.


 

Comment below: How has Paying it Forward benefited you?

 


1 comment

  1. Lucas - January 23, 2015 11:21 pm

    I like your stuff, Pete, and I appreciate you sharing some of your ideas and experiences with the likes of me.

    Keep it up!

    Lucas

    Reply

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