5 Tips to Becoming a Legend – And Not Just in Your Own Mind

Green shoes in a Nordstrom box
Full confession. Seth Godin is getting to me.  Every day he inspires me and I just have to act (aka blog).  A recent post goes to the heart of what makes a business brilliantly successful.  And it’s not the strategy or the product. It’s Feet on the street.  And, I would add, it’s not just your feet. It’s theirs.
This is how Nordstrom’s set itself apart from its competitors. It let folks return their shoes. No questions asked.  It put itself in the shoes of its customers.  And people liked this.  They really, really liked this. We trust Nordstrom’s because they trust us. Nordstrom’s is legendary.What can you do to become legendary?

What can you do that your constituents will truly appreciate?  What can you do to strengthen your relationships and build trust?
Here are a couple of the things that Seth suggests that I think work especially well:
  1. Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one
      This is my favorite tip.  I used to keep a stack of five thank you cards on my desk.  By the end of the week if I hadn’t used them all, then I’d failed.
  1. Run classes for your customers
      It’s important to remember that it’s all about our constituents.  Without them, we’re toast.  So we must provide something of value.  It can’t all be take, take, take.  We must also give.  It’s a value-for-value exchange.  The more valuable we can be, the more we will be valued. This isn’t rocket science.  But we forget. Don’t forget this year.  If you can’t run a class, offer “how to,” “tips” and “recommendations” in your blog or on your website.
  1. Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach
      Again, consider your consumer’s interests, needs and desires.  What can you teach them that will help them get to where they want to go?  Information about financial and tax strategies?  Tips on how to stay healthy?  Parenting advice?  Insights into Mozart?  Behind-the-scenes information about how the sausages get made?  If you stop to think about it, you’ll surely have some ideas.  Or randomly ask a few constituents directly.  Or ask your receptionist what people seem to want to know. It may be eye opening.
  1. Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why
      For those of us who work in the social benefit sector, this advice applies in spades to donors and volunteers.  They don’t always stop for the reasons you think; so, don’t presume.  I once called about 30 lapsed donors and found out that only 3 of them had made a conscious decision to stop supporting the charity in question.  The others had simply forgotten or genuinely thought they’d given. The remaining three provided useful feedback that helped us change internal systems that genuinely needed to be fixed.
  1. Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged
      This one’s a challenge for many of us who are understaffed and technological neophytes.  Yet it’s the future (and the instant I wrote that word the ‘future’ arrived!). Online is where engagement today is having its heyday. We don’t want to miss it.  This is one of the very best ways to build relationships and also to engage in targeted customer research.  And, yes, Nordstrom’s has a blog.  And they respond to comments.
What ‘feet on the street’ strategies are working for you?
How do you build trust with your constituents?
Is there a way in which you’re considered ‘legendary’?
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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. As usual, great advice from Clair. As a person focused on nonprofit branding, I think she is one of the must insightful bloggers on the topic. Particularly effective is the way she draws from multiple sources to emphasize a common sense to marketing your mission. As she says, “This isn’t rocket science.”

    John Burke

  2. Thanks for your kind comment John. It is much appreciated. I've been known to tell my clients that it's odd how the minute we walk into the office we seem to leave common sense at the door. It's not clear to me exactly why this happens, but it often does. When we remember to treat our supporters as we would our friends and family (and not those family members we're trying to avoid!) everything begins to come into focus. Again, many thanks.

  3. Thank you Clair for this insightful blog! So glad I came across you on LinkedIn! Will certainly follow you!

  4. Hi Claire, great post! I'm a huge Godin fan as well and have read almost all his books. I am going to start implementing the thank-you note ideas asap – I love it!

  5. Thanks Marci! My pleasure, and thanks so much for following.

  6. Brilliant minds think alike Natasha. 😉

  7. Claire,

    I love practical tips. I especially liked the idea of thank you notes. Because I have been trying to read more blogs, I am starting to share my love for leadership ideas with a co-worker. I gave them a copy of a blog post I really liked. I listed traits of a good follower/leader. I highlighted a few that were strengths of my coworker with a nice note. I wanted them to be encouraged that I saw strength in them. Thanks for the reminder!

    Dave Sena

  8. Solid and concrete steps you can take every day. Nice synopsis. Thanks.

  9. I love the shoes!

  10. They're yours! I'm sure by wearing them you'll be well on your way to becoming a legend. :-)

  11. Thanks Clay!

  12. Happy to be helpful. Sounds like you're headed down a positive leadership path. You go!

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