“Give, give … and give some more!” Make 2012 the year of the CGO!

We are in a precarious economic times. It seems like every business is trying to find that edge, that one thing that will set them apart from their competition.”The status quo won’t work – and if you don’t change then your day days are numbered.”

Well now it’s all about solutions. The question is:  What is it going to take for your firm to be one of those that makes the cut? I’m going try to throw out some ideas over the next couple of weeks … here’s the first one.

Hire a CGO … a Chief Giving Officer. Their job is to figure out and nurture ways your company can give. And not talking about “giving back.” I’m talking about giving, “Paying it Forward” – regardless if you’ve received.

Never miss an opportunity to give!

A few months ago I was visiting my daughter, Alex, in Los Angeles when I saw this banner on a gas station in West LA yesterday:  

We give 20% of all our proceeds on Tuesdays to the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Tolerance.”

I’m not Jewish and I don’t care if they don’t have the best gas prices in town … but I’m still going there. They’re giving, they’re trying to be part of the solution – and I want to patronize a firm with that attitude.

People do business with people and companies they like and respect. The little bit I’ll save getting the best deal pales in comparison to helping someone who’s out there for the greater good. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. All your capabilities and “stuff” is not “the be all and end all.” Make your firm one that if … I don’t do business with you, then “I’ll feel guilty.” There’s always “workarounds” on capabilities.

Giving  – corporate speaking, can be in two different forms:

1. Give to existing causes – like my example above. This is nice, but an easy out. Unless your clients and target market identifies with the cause … it probably won’t resonate, except for its symbolic value.

2. Create your own causes. This is where the CGO comes in. Remember most of your business is local. Local in the sense that your customers share the same “away from work” issues that you do. It’s their community too. Imagine if your firm is seen as a major player in helping make your neighborhood better. Don’t just give to the Salvation Army, for example. Organize “ground crews” where you can solve local problems – ground crews that are led by your employees and your clients.

Given the chance, you will be amazed at what happens. Buyers, who you have to go down a gauntlet to see, will be standing hand in hand with you – helping the homeless, working in a mentoring program (that you built) … or even cleaning a public neighborhood park and fixing its playground.

This isn’t just about selling or marketing, and it’s not about any of the other services I’ve advocated over the last couple months. It’s about getting to core of humanity, human motivation and what makes us tick.

I have to believe we all, or at least most of us, want what’s good for all us. Call me an idealist. But if agree and you truly believe this – then why not demonstrate it in your company? Make giving such an integral part of your culture that without it, your company … well, it isn’t your company. Make it what your firm is all about.

Now this perspective may sound crazy. Well maybe it is. It’s not like Groupon where group buying and half off is all the rage. It’s not about advertising on Facebook, or tweeting till your figures bleed.

What it’s about … is being a person, and being a company that people feel proud to do business with. And worst case … you’ll sure feel better about yourself.

Please throw in your 2 cents worth – yea or nea. Share your ideas on giving and making it a marketing priority and a business strategy.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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