I was out of the office last week attending the funeral of my grandmother.  In her mid-eighties, this woman had survived the Great Depression, raised 5 children and lived long enough to dote on and enjoy 13 great-grandchildren.  Over the years, she hosted countless parties and holiday gatherings for huge numbers of people.  Her door was always open, and there was never a better hostess.  However, what many of us remember most about my grandmother are Sunday dinners, where it was “just us.”

Even during these simple Sunday meals, Grandma insisted on setting the table with the “good” dishes.  When her kids or grandkids would ask why or complain about having to do the prep and clean-up that went with that task, she always had the same answer: “We do this because your family is the most important company you will ever have.”

There is an immeasurably important life lesson here.

There is also a very valuable business lesson: While many companies spend a great deal of time and energy on attracting new customers or on promoting the next big thing, they may lose their ability to focus on the value of those closest and most loyal to them by taking them for granted.  I’d encourage all readers to take the time to communicate with their own employees and to recognize and reward their best customers.  Marketing isn’t just all about lead generation and new customer acquisition; it’s about keeping your friends close.

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