In my experience, sometimes finding a good webinar can be a shot in the dark. They’re either not what they seem, or it’s a struggle to find good bits of info in the midst of thinly-veiled sales pitches.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Vocus webinar, “Nice Brands Finish First,” featuring the always-entertaining Peter Shankman. Not only was it full of traditional Shankman quirk, it had great points woven all the way through. Check out my top Shankmanisms (yep, think I coined that) and learn what being nice really means for brands.

Shankmanism #1: People spend time and/or money on companies and products they like. When they have to spend on companies they don’t like (wireless bill, anyone?), it creates a definite sense of discomfort.

Shankmanism #2: People want to see big brand depth of service with small brand quality and personalization.

Spot on. Not only is this doable, making it happen is probably one of the smartest things brands can do in terms of cultivating a great public reputation. I think a prime example of this is Nordstrom – they’re a massive retailer, but they do a fantastic job connecting with their customers on a personal level. Recently, when planning a trip to Cancun, I used their website’s Q&A feature to ask if a certain swimsuit I had my eye on was more fashion than function, or a good mix of both. A customer service rep responded within a few hours by saying, “Hi, Erica,” answered my question effectively, recommended other products she thought I’d like, and wished me bon voyage. And see? I’m telling people about my experience. Word of mouth marketing at its finest.

Shankmanism #3: When a brand is nice, they tune in to what their customers want –and give it to them – before they ever ask. Peter gave an awesome example of this essential in action, which he said is quite possibly one of his favorites ever. On a trip to Dubai, he was running low on toothpaste. When he returned back to his room one day, he found a fresh tube of toothpaste, along with a note reading, “Dear Guest: Upon servicing your room, I noticed that your toothpaste is running low. Knowing you have a busy schedule, I have taken the liberty to replace the toothpaste for you with our compliments.”

Peter is sure the hotel had no idea about the power he holds in the social and digital world, but when he shared his photo on social media, their revenue jumped by $1000s. This also speaks to the idea that you should treat all customers with an equal wow factor – you never know who they are and what impact they can have on your business.

Shankmanism #4: Many people see big brands simply acknowledging an issue online, i.e., “sorry about that – we understand,” as a great response. At least they said something at all, right? Wrong.

Do you need to go through a whole epic quest in front of all your social media fans to solve a problem? No, and moreover, you shouldn’t. But, your customers want more than to be understood. They want to be heard.

Shankmanism #5: There are two types of open people and brands. The first share quality content that doesn’t just give you a glimpse of who they are; it shows they’re making an effort to benefit you. The second reposts and shares anything and everything without considering the value to their audience. Unsurprisingly, customers quickly grow tired of type #2.

“What we share is indicative of who we are,” Peter says. “Having an audience is a privilege, not a right.” Before scheduling any content, stop and think for a moment: “Is this beneficial to my audience?” If not, no worries – something will be soon.

Shankmanism #6: Stop focusing on getting new customers. Instead, focus on the ones you already have – they’ll bring you who you want. To his point, Peter says those ever-popular “10,000th ‘Like’ wins a prize” promotions on Facebook are not a good move because they reward newcomers while isolating loyalists. I feel as though I’ve seen a definite decline of these as of late, and I’m glad, because I agree with Peter. You’re not only telling your existing fans they’re past their prime, you’re running the risk of collecting tons of fans who are only “Liking” you for the prize. In all likelihood, they won’t engage past initial contact.

Shankmanism #7: We live in a world where we expect customer service to be crap. Treat customers one level above crap, and you’ve got yourself a fan (not saying that’s a good place to settle). Treat customers above and beyond one level up, and you’ve got yourself a lifetime loyalist.

Shankmanism #8: Experience is the new currency. For customers, doing things no one else can holds a much higher value than money or prizes. On that same vein, giving customers those experiences turns out better for brands – it increases their chances for securing tons of positive WOM marketing.

Shankmanism #9: As a society, we generally share when we’re either really happy or really unhappy. When we’re happy, we’re only totally satisfied when we’re able to rub it in someone’s face a bit. Peter gives the example of those ubiquitous morning Facebook posts like, “Just left the gym! So stoked to get my early morning workout in – now I can have dessert. Lol. : )” It’s fine to post updates like that (in moderation), but admit it – you want someone to say something about it. And, when we’re unhappy, we feel better when others can share in our misery. For example, Peter says, when a flight is delayed, you’re guaranteed to hear a chorus of cellphone complaints the second you land. As a brand, strive to be that gym, not that airline.

Shankmanism #10: PR no longer stands for “public relations.” It stands for “personal recommendations.” If you build up enough clout with your customers, they’ll be your publicity.

If you want more Shankmanisms, check out the complete webinar on Vocus.