Sixth grade is an awkward school year for most boys and girls. Girls look at boys as so immature and lame; boys look at girls as so confusing and weird. It was a time of stupid pranks, smutty jokes, and snickers about anything personal or private. And, one of the most awkward times of the school year was Valentine’s Day.
Our sixth grade class all participated in decorating a giant “mail” box into which valentine cards were placed upon arrival on the morning of Valentine’s Day. Each valentine had the recipient’s name on the front of the envelope and the giver’s name on the inside of the card. Most gave valentines to the people they liked; some gave valentines to everyone. It was not odd that your best guy friend got an amorous sounding card or that you gave an unsigned one to that cute girl you were too nervous to talk with. There was red punch and conversation hearts candy.
When valentines were given out in the afternoon, I got one from Mary Francis Stevenson. Mary Francis was not one who gave cards to everyone. So, in the parlance of a sixth grader, I assumed it meant something. I was too self-conscious to look at her when I opened it. But, I sure thought about it a lot…for days afterward. A week or so later I got up my nerve to talk with her on the playground at recess. It opened up a great friendship. We did not become boyfriend-girlfriend. But, we did become great friends. And, she helped me start to “crack the code” on girls.
Giving a valentine or valentine-like expression to customers who are not advocates just might turn them into ones. It might change their relationship with you from consumers to clients; from transaction acquaintances to partnership alliances. They could not only become your advocate, but your mentor as well. Don’t spend all your attention on your newest or best customers; give them all a chance to become your valentine.