True service or opportunism? You decide.

Tips to walk the gift-giving line

This may sound like déjà vu because it is largely a carryover from a post a couple of week’s ago but I couldn’t help myself.

I saw a TV commercial the other day and it was one of those ubiquitous during-the-Coronavirus-we-are-with-you ads. What bothers me most about these ads is that companies are using sad music, now-clichéd phrases like “during this trying time, we at XYZ are with you,” and then comes the cleverly-cloaked sales pitch, “we are working tirelessly to keep our doors open to serve you.” To make matters worse, often the product is something that’s simply inappropriate to the message – think luxury car. Why do I need a luxury car during a health crisis? How will that make things better for me or those who are suffering through sickness or financial strife?

While I may sound like a curmudgeon (not unusual), I hate being sold under the banner of (cue the music) we’re-with-you-during-this-crisis. This happened after 9/11, it happens when there are earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters, and, it’s in really poor taste. It just looks like a sickening way of exploiting people’s misfortune for gain, and, while it may be well-intentioned, it looks opportunistic and wrong.

You see there are givers who give with no thought of return. They just give because they want to help. They are authentic. Then there are those who are opportunists. These folks give when it is convenient and they serve to gain. What may look authentic is actually not. It is a façade.

Fortunately, there are companies, colleges, and other organizations who have retooled their work to make masks and other things to actually help in this crisis, those are the ones who are authentic and truly in it with us. A great example is Dyson, the vacuum cleaner company. Within a couple of weeks Dyson designed and retooled their manufacturing to make respirators. Are they selling me vacuum cleaners? No! They are doing something to really make a difference, and I, as a customer, will reward that later when I need a vacuum cleaner. Dyson is providing authentic service rather than trying to benefit off of misfortune.

So what about your business or organization? Is it authentic or opportunistic? Are you just using the time as an opportunity to sound helpful but you’re just selling something, or are you finding ways to truly help? How can your business be more authentic and truly provide honest service to others during this pandemic instead of just cloaking a sales pitch under a blanket of faux service?

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