Gratitude: The Secret Marketing Sauce You’re Not Using, But Should Be

By Brad Veach, VP of Marketing at Thnks

You’re staring at a blank document trying to come up with something to write – boom – writer’s block, the sales team is complaining about lead quality… again. A customer found a typo in your new brochure that just went to print, and the finance department wants to have a ‘discussion’ about budgets. We’ve all been there (and if you haven’t yet… you will). In the marketing world this is what we call a bad day.

I bet you’re wondering, why is this article about gratitude starting off with a bunch of complaints… Good question. The reason is simple, because this is exactly where gratitude can make its biggest impact!

Paraphrasing Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, in this recent article – “gratitude helps people realize that they wouldn’t be where they are without the help of others”. Many marketers are focused on lead generation. We have specific goals to hit, and that means grabbing the attention of individuals. There is so much to be grateful for in this process. You have a product that is interesting, valuable, and people want it. You have the tools and budget to put the message out there to attract them. You have the skills and ability to create the campaigns, ideas, and messaging that works (even though a typo slips through every now and then). You have a sales team that is extroverted (a strange beast to many of us digital marketers – you know who you are), and take that lead on a journey to becoming a customer. You have an account team and support team that keep them happy and continue to drive growth. And, of course, you are grateful that somebody out there listened to you, they paid attention, and they responded to your ad, email, website, message, etc… Each one is a small connection to be sure, but they all add up to make you a successful marketer. So much of that success depends on other people – every marketer should be overflowing with gratitude!

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Now, back to the reality of a bad day – when the raindrops are falling and it seems so much isn’t going your way. Simply stepping back and remembering all the things that you are grateful for can be a lifeline to keeping a good attitude, staying positive, and working through the issues to end with a good result.

The next step then, is how to take action with this understanding. The answer is that it’s not about perfectly expressing gratitude to every individual, it’s about infusing gratitude into our work strategically and habitually, so that it just becomes a part of what we do. The science – and the common sense – are clear. Being grateful improves your mindset and improves your relationships with others – whether it is old friends, colleagues, or people you just met by way of demo request who are interested in your product – gratitude will help move that relationship forward and strengthen it.

Referencing the same article from above on the science of gratitude, “In addition to giving individual benefits, gratitude may also help to strengthen ties with friends, loved ones, and those in our wider communities. The find-remind-bind theory, first proposed by psychologist Sara Algoe—an associate professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—suggests that gratitude can help people identify good candidates for a new relationship (find), appreciate existing relationships (remind), and motivate people to maintain or invest in these relationships (bind). As Sara writes in a 2012 paper on her theory, “Gratitude starts inside one individual and its effects spread to a dyadic relationship and perhaps throughout a social network.”

Wrapping gratitude into your workflow as a marketer can have a tremendously positive ripple effect in your professional life, and there are numerous untapped opportunities for including it in your toolbox.

It’s now possible to strategically target prospects, customers and your internal teams/team-members with digital, personalized gestures of gratitude – distributed in real-time at the moments when they will have the most powerful business impact. You can take that gratitude mindset and easily operationalize it one to one, or as a part of a broader campaign.

Examples of a digital gesture of gratitude are a personalized message coupled with a hot coffee on a cold day, a rideshare before a big event in the city, a movie night for the family, chicken soup when someone’s out sick, or lunch for the team just because. It’s now possible to express thoughtfulness and appreciation easily through a digital platform, and to do so with strategic purpose in mind.

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Why Digital Gratitude Works

  • Breaks through the noise and clutter of the business day
  • Surprises and delights the target
  • Grabs attention, makes the sender stand out among competitors
  • Put simply, tokens of appreciation make people happy – and happy people are more amenable to working with you and/or doing business with you

How & When To Leverage Digital Gratitude

  • Delight customers by pairing digital gratitude gestures with satisfaction surveys
  • Event marketing: immediately follow-up with attendees to show gratitude for joining
  • Webinar follow up a week after the event: offer lunch delivery and a set of additional thought starters
  • Agency partner appreciation and encouragement to keep sharing referrals, leads, opportunities
  • Internally with your team, to show appreciation, build goodwill, and spur higher productivity

In our business, we see digital gratitude interactions play out on a daily basis – and the effects never fail to impress.

As just one example, I recently worked with a large technology client who utilized digital gratitude to send “Thnks a Lattes” with a personalized message to 178 webinar attendees immediately following their event.

Numerous recipients responded quickly with their own gratitude for the gesture, which provided the sales team a vital opportunity to re-engage with the connections. This ultimately led the client into 22 new business opportunities, translating to $30,000 in new business value and a 300% return on the initial investment. This is just one example of many.

Personally, I’ve used gestures of appreciation within my own team and with various business partners to build stronger connections, make them smile and/or laugh, or just to simply say ‘thanks’. The saying that dots many of our advertising campaigns rings true, “a little gratitude goes a long way”.

Simple gestures of appreciation and gratitude truly are a secret sauce to spice up your marketing efforts. It can be a launchpad for forging genuine connections and creating positive sentiments – which in turn are the building blocks of successful marketing campaigns.


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