I recently had the pleasure of meeting a business owner whose business card has on the back lists of things he loves and hates.

As well as being a great way to quickly share his personal and company values, it struck a chord with me – what would mine be?

The first one that came to mind was a pet hate: particularly after almost five years as a self-employed person – people who don’t have good manners in daily business.

A recent LinkedIn post bemoaned people who start emails curtly with the addressee’s name. It got a huge wave of supportive comments, including from me.

Just as annoying, IMHO, are those who fail to say ‘please or ‘thank you’ when you’ve helped them in some way or they need your help.

Now I know we’re all busier than ever and there’s pressure on those employed by companies to maximise the ROI on their time, but, really, how long does it take to click ‘Reply’ and type ‘Thanks’?

About four seconds at most. Over a fully business day, maybe a total of two minutes at most.


So, even if you’re charging £1000 a day (£125 an hour) for your time, that’s just £4.17 ‘wasted’. Or £958.34 a year. That seems a lot, and worth saving, but there’s a cost to it too.

One of the life-changing things I discovered when I did my MBA was the difference between Transactional Marketing and Relationship Marketing. With the former you’re focusing only on that one transaction and trying to maximise your profit on it. With Relationship Marketing you’re looking to get repeat business from that customer, so act in order to ensure they buy from you again and increase the total value of that customer to you in the long-term.

Unless you’re a postcard seller at the Statue of Liberty – who’s very unlikely to see a tourist again, transactional marketing makes no sense. For most businesses, especially ones providing a service, relationship marketing is more appropriate if your focus is on the long-term and growth.

Similarly, one of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received was to always put the client relationship first – because if there are problems it will survive them. If the relationship’s not good, it won’t. I’ve found that to be very true. Thanks for that Alison Dwyer!

You may also have seen the slogan ‘There’s no more B2C or B2B, just H2H’ – Human to Human. That’s very true. As marketing gets more competitive, more of it, particularly on social media, is about making a connection with people as a human being – starting or maintaining a human-level communication that builds a strong bond between the people and their respective companies and brands.


One of the benefits of taking this view is that not everyone is doing it, so those who do operate this way enjoy differentiation – the strongest of the three basic strategies – and some competitive advantage.

When I was the features sub who compiled the Rob Scott’s Top Ten section of The Sunday Post, I always had more time for the book PR who made time to come to Dundee to see me in person than the ones who just emailed or called. Now I’m on the other side of the media fence, I do the same. Mike Watson, Editor of SBNN, said I was only the second PR to make time to meet him.

In this ever more competitive and challenging world, paying attention to those business relationships makes sense – increasing your chances of solid organic growth as well as building a valuable network with whom you can share invaluable information you wouldn’t otherwise get.

Obviously, this approach is no guarantee that you won’t lose some clients for other reasons – such as cost – but doing this you’ll do what you can to create a stable base of competitive advantage over those who don’t make time for manners and thinking win-win.

Opportunity Cost

Earlier I calculated that the time cost of saying ‘thanks’ for someone charging £1000 a day is £958.34 a year. But what’s the Opportunity Cost of not doing so – the value of the things they’ve given up by choosing that option?

The answer in this case is we don’t know. But it doesn’t take a massive leap of imagination to think of referrals never gained from the unthanked  to new clients who might bring annual income far exceeding that. Or direct business with someone not thanked when they move to a bigger company which could be a client.

Internally, manners are important too. Two decades ago UPN’s ahead-of-its-time Leadership Development Programme taught me staff will always remember the times you didn’t say ‘thank you’ more than the times when you did. And how many times you remember will factor into their motivation and effort. Which is why good leaders, rather than those who are just efficient managers, make time to say ‘thanks’.

Your parents taught you manners cost nothing when you were young and good manners make sense in business. Not having them can cost a lot.

Or do you disagree? Please let me know.

Oh and thanks for reading this! 🙂