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Everybody knows how to spot a phony.

A man shakes your hand when you meet him and somehow very quickly gets to talking about his business.  He proceeds to give you his card and end the conversation to move to the next victim.

originalsYou know he doesn’t actually care about you.

You click on a link and find a slideshow with 50 pages, all of which you know will add to their “page views”.  Scattered in 18 different places on the first page are ads to play a mobile game, buy a house, lose fat, get bigger muscles, grow a longer… well, you get the idea.

Feeling used yet?

As Christians, we are told to put off all falsehoods.  As Christian businessmen and women, we should never try to trick people into becoming customers.

The goal is authenticity.

We want those we work with to know who we are.  The dollar is not the bottom line, even though, as a business, we have to make money.  The bottom line is relationships.

This article assumes that you don’t want to rip people off.

The goal is authenticity. #relationships Click To Tweet

Be User-Friendly

typewriter2Don’t make your users sort through a survey, a pop-up ad, and some click-bait before they can read your main page or “About Us” page.  I bounce right out of there the second I feel like I don’t know how to get to the page I want.

Make your menus easy to read and clear enough to understand.

If you don’t, you can come off as greedy at worst, and pretentious at best.

Be Selective in Your Advertising

Speaking of pop-ups… If you’re a Christian business, please leave out the scantily clad Kate Upton for Game of War advertisements.  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

The businesses you advertise for on your website should be similar to your own product or service.  At the very least, they should not be contradictory.

We’re not just going for non-offensive.  We’re going for consistency in your online presence.

Involve Yourself in the Community

Be charitable!

There have got to be causes in your communities which your business can get behind.

Sponsor it.  Participate in it.  Offer to help organize.

This communicates that you care more about relationships than you do about money.  Both are important, but authenticity shows that you use your resources for good, and not just to get the most money possible.

Be charitable! #altruism Click To Tweet

Be Consistent

Let’s say you run an outdoorsman equipment supplier – you sell gear for fishing, hunting, camping, kayaking, boating, etc.  But your production plants do more damage to the environment than a nuclear warhead.

Or you own a flower shop, and on Valentine’s Day, you’re putting out some stock while joking crudely about your wife to an employee in earshot of customers.

This kind of inconsistency will communicate to people that you don’t really believe in what you are selling.  What’s worse, it will communicate to people that you aren’t who you say you are.

Love Your Followers

magazineHave you ever received a personal email from a customer who was glowing with excitement about your product?  Or a repeat customer who always orders the same thing off the menu?  Or someone who tweets about you regularly?

These are the people you need to cherish.

Showcase them on a special splash page and explain how their enthusiasm is inspiring.  Send them free merchandise.  Give them personal responses when they contact you.

Respect Privacy

This one’s pretty simple.  Don’t sell their contact information to third-parties to make a quick buck.  Your newsletters to your followers will go right in the trash with a firm “unsubscribe” right back at you if they find out it was you.

More importantly, it’s a slap in the face to those who trust you with their information.

Follow Through

If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

If you say you're going to do something, do it. #integrity Click To Tweet

Build a Reputation Slowly

A reputation is strongest when it is built over time.  Your brand gains a good reputation when you repeatedly give the customer what they want.

Do not go for the shortcuts which give an impression of success when you haven’t actually proved yourself yet.

Don’t buy 1,000 followers on twitter.  Never manipulate reviews for your product.  Don’t put out complimentary yet false information about yourself.

Have Quality Customer Service

v-neckChances are, you are not doing much customer service yourself if you own the business.  So police this well.  Hire people who have a history of good customer service, and then do regular quality checks.

But if you are doing customer service yourself, then make every effort to leave customers with a feeling of thankfulness when you help them in ways they did not even expect.

Read this heart-wrenching story about what the effect of good customer service can be.

Be Yourself

Ultimately, it comes down to this – be yourself.

You are a sinner saved by grace, so be humble.

You are gifted in leadership, so lead well.

You have a business to run, so steward it in ways that impact people.

Be generous, understanding, compassionate, selfless.

Be Christ to your community through your company.  Your city (and the world) will be better off for it.

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