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3 Uncommon Ways to Find Growth: The Law of Reciprocity

What is the Law of Reciprocity?


The law of Reciprocity states that an individual or group will tend to return a favor to an individual or group that has helped them in the past. In the business world the Law of Reciprocity helps demonstrate the effect altruism can have on a business’ future growth. 

While it can be difficult to measure the ROI on goodwill, we believe helping others is it’s own reward and while you may not see immediate profits from your generosity we know it will ultimately help you get ahead of the pack. 


Get Help from an Industry Leader


Reach out to the industry leaders your product is designed to help and ask permission to interview them. Veteran’s in the industry are often willing to share insights with newcomers. Perhaps because they are already familiar with the Law of Reciprocity, and they know a little assistance can pay dividends in the future.


Start your search with current clients, then expand to businesses you have interfaced with previously. This can include companies you met at conferences, former professors or mentors, and those who are part of your Linkedin network or  Linkedin connections. Cold calling or Cold emails are also an option, but tend to see lower success rates. No matter how you approach these individuals, be straightforward with your request and be respectful of their time. 


Once an industry leader has consented to an interview, ask if they will also agree to be recorded. While this step is not necessary it is advantageous to be able to refer back to the video or audio for insights and you can derive a great deal of content from their recording in the future.


During the interview, ask questions about the specific strategies and practices that led them to success in your vertical. Inquire about pitfalls they have seen their competitors fall into in the past. Finally ask them about what they feel like you and your competitors may be missing in the services they provide. 


This interview has three purposes. First, it will help you discover best practices to implement in your operation. Second, it will help you discover what industry leaders expect from companies in your field and may reveal areas of opportunity for your growing business. Finally and perhaps most importantly it will help you cultivate relationships with giants in the industry.


Get involved in Community Service

Providing service as a company might seem counterintuitive to growth; however, service can often open up doors that you didn’t even know existed. 

Start by asking your team what are some good volunteer ideas. It is likely they are already aware of several charitable organizations and community service events. By involving your team in the service search you can quickly find a cause or group to support. More importantly, if they can pick the service opportunity your team will approach your volunteer project with genuine excitement and passion that is impossible to fake.

These volunteer experiences have a lot of potential benefits. First there may be press opportunities gained at even the smallest community service events and you may even forge business relationships with other companies while volunteering. 

Second, volunteering opportunities are an excellent opportunity to energize your team, focus on team building, and get out of the office. Bonus points for closing the business for the day and letting your customers know that your team is out for the day providing community service. 

Finally, companies and individuals are becoming more socially conscious and people are looking to partner with companies dedicated to bettering their community and world. Remember the law of reciprocity? As you and your company are seen serving the world around you potential clients are more likely to reward you with their business. 

Don’t ask for someone’s email address. 

This is the most daring and counterintuitive of this list. John Booth, a VP of Marketing at Cipher Systems writing for impactbnd.com, points out that you don’t need everybody’s email. You need the emails of people who are likely to become customers. 

Prospects are getting tired of surrendering their email to download content that doesn’t turn out to be so valuable. They also really dislike having to unsubscribe from mailing lists that aren’t actually helping them, either. The solution is to pivot to chat, and other methods of providing value and solving prospects’ problems before asking for anything in return. 

The law of reciprocity remains in full force here. Customers will be grateful for your orientation towards providing a service, rather than just mining them for data. This will generate higher levels of loyalty and increase the probability they will recommend your company to others. 

As Booth put it,

At the most fundamental level, my goal as a marketer is to build trust and establish credibility with my prospects.

I do this by sharing my company’s perspective, experience, and intelligence in a way that is educational and designed to answer their questions and help them solve their problems.

Doing all of this without asking for an email address is a very effective way to build trust and credibility, and it makes great business sense.


The Law of Reciprocity in Business: Grow like never expected

Countless businesses struggle on the edge of obscurity never gaining the trust, loyalty or customer base they want and that is because they don’t understand the Law of Reciprocity. Many business owners fail to see beyond the mere dollar and cents of running a business and never learn that the key to business growth lies in serving others. While there are countless ways the Law of Reciprocity could apply to business growth we hope these three examples have helped you gain a greater understanding that the more you and your company gives the more you will grow.

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