Impressive vs. Service

by Matt Mattson

not-impressed Do you try to impress people or serve people?

Does your organization attract members, volunteers, donors and fans by… trying to impress people or trying to serve people?

There are two ways to promote yourself, recruit people to your organizations, or position yourself socially.  1) You can try to impress people. 2) You can try to serve people.

Let’s break this down.  Imagine two organizations that both need more members.

The ABC Club just launched a major re-branding initiative complete with a snazzy new online presence, cool new signs, a whole poster and T-shirt campaign around it’s new theme, "ABC Club: Unbeatable, Unsinkable, Unmatched."  They have a booth set up on a street near you and they’re handing out pretty cool water bottles with their logos emblazoned brightly across the front. They’re all wearing brightly colored polo shirts with their new catchphrase printed on it. They hired 6 professional promoters (models) to work the booth, shake hands, and to repeat their catchphrase as often as possible.  The passersby are stopping, taking a water water bottle (in exchange for their contact information), hearing the catchphrase, and smiling politely. ABC Club is impressive. Very impressive.

The LMNOP Group just started a major initiative of their own.  They have a booth set up down the street near you too, but their booth is not nearly as impressive or shiny.  They have 6 regular looking people dressed neatly but not exceptionally.  Everytime someone walks past their booth volunteers are doing two things – 1) finding some way to make the passerby’s day (high fives, jokes, smiles, a welcoming handshake, an interesting question), and 2) asking the passerby about their needs related to their group’s cause.  The passersby are generally stopping, talking for a while, exchanging contact information, and leaving with a smile.  The LMNOP Group doesn’t have any giveaways, they aren’t wearing matching bright colored clothes, they don’t have a catchphrase (they have a list of powerful questions), and their signage is professional, clean, and simple, but not really exceptional. The reason people are engaging with them is because of LMNOP’s focus on the passersby’s needs. They’re listening and caring.  They’re serving. They want to help.

There are two ways to do business.  Two ways to do sales.  Two ways to recruit members. Two ways to make friends.  You can impress or you can serve.  Both have advantages.

I choose to serve as often as I can. Maybe that’s just because I’m not that impressive :-)   I tend to think it is a better way to approach the world. But some mix of the two is probably the right answer.  Which would you rather do?

Do you try to impress people or serve people?