In Appreciation, Leadership

Night after night Jimmy Fallon delights four million viewers (and very satisfied advertisers) with his genius monologues, insanely funny skits (“Ew!” has featured cameos by Taylor Swift, Seth Rogan, Channing Tatum and even First Lady Michelle Obama) and silly songs you can’t get out of your head. (I know I’m not the only one singing “Tight Pants” when stuck in rush hour traffic.) Sure, Jimmy is an actor, stand-up comedian, one of the best impressionists of our generation and can even play guitar and harmonica, but most of all he knows how to make a connection.

Isn’t that what every brand desires to do? If making a connection with your audience (customer) isn’t part of your strategic plan, add it right now. Whether you own a small coffee house that’s trying to stay afloat or you’re the CEO at Amazon, you must focus immediately on ways to communicate with your customer on a genuine, individual level. Don’t assume that customers will care about your product or service just because you have a marketing team and a $20 million advertising budget. And are your 500,000 Facebook followers actually paying for your products or services?

What can mere mortals learn from “The Tonight Show host? If you’re an executive, director, sales leader or manager, or an employee who wants to impress your boss and work your way up to the corner office, start with these three simple things Jimmy Fallon does amazingly well and apply them to your company:

1) Write thank you notes. Jimmy does this as a joke, but it has become one of his most popular skits that America tunes in to watch every Friday night. Why? Maybe because it’s cool to see an icon who earns millions of dollars make a big deal of something that your mom made you do when you were a kid.

Look back through the emails you sent over the past month. How many of them included “thanks for lunch” or “great doing business with you” in the message?

This week head to Target or Papyrus and buy a few boxes of classic “thank you” cards, along with a quality black ink pen. Then make a point to write a few thank you cards each week and actually mail them. (This requires buying stamps and finding a mailbox. Not an easy task but well worth the effort.)

If you’re in a leadership position at your business, order custom thank you cards with your company’s logo and give every employee a box, along with tips on writing notes of personal gratitude to current and potential customers.

2) Try something weird. If you watch Jimmy on a regular basis you’ve seen Panda. Quite possibly the dumbest, most random thing on that show. Until the fans cracked up, named the character, and created so much buzz that Jimmy brought Panda back again and again. Weird can work. (I’m not a fan of Bud Light but I do appreciate the “It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work” football campaign.)

You’re reading this as you sit at your desk, working on a spreadsheet, saying “I’m not daring enough to try something weird.” Go back to your weird, wonderful junior high self. Write down a few wacky things you did as a kid and think of how you can apply them to your current situation.

Funny costumes are not necessary. “Weird” can be looking at an idea from two years ago that everyone said would never work, and pitching it again. “Weird” can be inviting all of your customers to bring a potluck dish to a tailgate party in your office parking lot before a big college game.

If you do by chance overhear rumors of your sales department wanting to “get weird” and dress up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to brighten the day of patients at the local children’s hospital, contact your PR manager immediately. The local media loves this kind of outreach. And a free two minute segment on the evening news certainly can be a boost to business. This is when “weird” definitely works.

3) Acknowledge the team. Not a night goes by where Jimmy doesn’t enthusiastically introduce his house band, The Roots. Questlove and the crew are regularly worked into skits, and keyboardist Kamal is featured every Friday night as part of “Thank You Notes.”Without a doubt Jimmy sincerely appreciates every member of the band and makes it clear that they’re the best group of musicians in the world.

When was the last time you publicly thanked your team, let alone said you had the best marketing/accounting/operations/shipping/sales team in the world? Imagine how great your employees would feel if you treated them the way Jimmy Fallon treats The Roots? Just think about the potential for improved performance levels. Heck, the person who is always late might even come to work early if he felt you cared about him.

If you don’t have a team of rock stars to honor, then you only have yourself to blame. Harsh? Maybe, but as a business leader its up to you to hire the best (even if you don’t have NBC as financial backers) or get your current team the training and equipment required to shine and be “rock stars” in your industry.

Jimmy Fallon’s job is to make America happy and make money for his network. What can you do to make a difference in your business? Share your suggestions on my LinkedIn page with #DifferenceMaker.

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