Where do you start? ‘Do unto others ….’ No, I mean literally.

Whenever I make a keynote speech about the dangers of Clicksand, almost invariably the same question will be raised in the Q&A afterward. Business owners always want to know how they can get out of the trap. One of them will usually ask, “What is one simple thing I can immediately do (or have my team start doing) to get us back on the right track of building real relationships instead of being trapped in Clicksand?”

My response is to give them a phrase they can use as a practical guide. It’s the old Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

That’s a phrase we’ve all heard many times in our lives and it’s a good general sentiment, but when I tell audiences to use it to get out of the Clicksand trap, I don’t mean it as a fluffy feel-good adage. I mean they should use it as an easy-to-remember, literal how-to guide to reimagine their marketing communications—especially communications for their most valuable business relationships.

If you’re wrestling with the same “What’s something I can do right now to get back on the right track?” dilemma, here’s how the Golden Rule can lead you in the right direction.

Start with what people are doing unto you

An easy place to start when trying to (re)discover the most effective ways to communicate with the people who are most important to your business (potential customers, referral sources, high-level future employees, etc.) is to use yourself as a mini focus group. You receive dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of messages a day. Most of them go unopened. And most of the ones you do open do NOT make you glad you opened them.

But a few messages get through that actually give you a good feeling. Maybe they provide you with some information you need, or make you smile. Even more important, a very small minority of the messages you receive each day are worth responding to—and you take the (valuable!) time to reply to them. Those are the messages to pay attention to as part of your “do unto others” focus group effort.

Then, do unto others…

As you notice which messages in your own inbox elicit A) good feelings, and B) a response from you, you’ll start to see patterns that are consistent across those messages.

In general, you will probably notice they are almost always personalized in some way—something showing that the sender knows (and values) you as a person and not just as a “target.” As social creatures, we humans are wired to notice if someone takes the time to care about us as an individual, and we all tend to respond favorably to anyone who treats us specially.

You will see other patterns as well. The messages will often reference something you and the sender have in common. Sometimes the message might ask a question. You’ll probably also notice that almost all of the messages you respond to are short.

We get into the science of these interpersonal dynamics when we work with clients at Civilis Marketing, but even if you don’t dive deeply into the psychology involved, you can gain a lot from this approach. Just noticing what you enjoy receiving from others will get you back into the proper frame of mind for what you yourself should be saying and sending to the people who can most contribute to your potential success.

But don’t stop there

It’s not enough, however, to just take note of what works and get into the “proper frame of mind.” Remember, the first word of the Golden Rule is “do.” It’s “Do unto others…,” not “Notice what others do….” So be sure you really put it into practice.

The easiest way to do that is to simply replicate what you see. If you got a message from someone and you liked receiving it, turn around and immediately send the same kind of message to someone else in your world with whom you want to enhance your relationship. Did someone send you a question that gave you a chance to feel like an expert and help out with a problem? Ask someone else a question to give them that same feeling. Did an old acquaintance send a note because it’s been too long since you’ve seen each other? Think of someone else in your world that you could similarly reach out to.

Keep at it and you will quickly see (and feel) the difference in the way you are interacting with the people who are important to your success. You’ll also see results. The Golden Rule technique will start you down the right path, and the responses you get back from the people you reach out to will energize you, enhance your success, and entice you to keep moving forward to get out of that Clicksand trap.