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Andy Nulman on happiness, respect, and word of mouth

I asked a few simple questions to a bunch of smart marketers.

Enjoy this great answer from Andy Nulman, President and CMO, Airborne Entertainment and founder of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival.

Great marketing comes down to one simple idea: Earn the respect and recommendation of your customers, and they will do the rest. What is your advice for any company that wants to …

1 … make people happy?

Ironically, this was our three word mission statement when I was the CEO of Just For Laughs, “Make People Happy.” Didn’t matter who–the performers, the sponsors, the staff, the customers; it was our job to ensure that everyone loved dealing with us, and left each encounter with a smile.
Easier said than done, though.

Making people happy is a monumental task. This is why I have become the advocate for Surprise (albeit positive Surprise). I don’t think there’s a better way to ensure happiness than to continually deliver the unexpected to your deliverees. The easy part is the initial Surprise, which spawns great word-of-mouth and keeps people coming back…once. The tough part is to maintain a flow of positive Surprises that will send people away happy, and plant a seed of curiosity to return and see what you come up with next. This is the a virtuous circle; the gift that keeps on giving for both parties.

A challenge, yes. But don’t worry; if you’re not up to it, your competition will be.

2 … earn respect?

To me there is only one respect that matters, and that’s when people say great things about you. It’s nice to be appreciated, but frankly, silent appreciation is as good as no appreciation at all.
True respect comes when you do something that makes people talk; when people look up to you, to what you’ve done, and want to tell others about it. This is why, while writing this, I turn my head slightly to the right and gaze at the adage I had framed and keep within eyesight on my shelves. Its message:

Never promise more than you can deliver.

Always deliver more than you promised.

Follow those two simple rules and you’ll generate true, gilded, long-lasting respect.

3 … get a word of mouth recommendation?

Ask for one. It seems pedantic, but with all the media touchpoints that bombard us every waking hour, and everything else that goes on in our lives, the events that could spawn w-o-m recommendations are often overshadowed and quickly forgotten, no matter how exceptional they may be.
Asking is “the closer,” so to speak. What you are doing is making your customer part of your story, integrating them into your success. It’s the difference between actively participating or being a mere spectator on the sidelines.

Thanks, Andy!

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