This time of year—and this year especially—we’re all thinking more about kindness. We all agree that acts small and large that bring a smile, comfort, a laugh, or a moment’s respite from the craziness of daily life are a good idea, but do they have any marketing value?

Short answer: Yes, absolutely.

Longer answer…

There are people who advocate that doing anything that is not completely selfless is pointless, that acts of kindness somehow have less value if there’s something in it for you. I don’t agree, because I think acts of kindness inherently create a positivity that envelops both the recipient and the donor of these acts.

Think of it this way: You hold the door open for someone and wish them a nice day. That person goes the extra mile for someone else. That someone else decides to make an additional effort on behalf of another person. It’s the butterfly effect.

I’m lucky enough to be involved with a couple of nonprofit groups, and honestly? Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Because we’re all human, sometimes these activities can be hard going, even though we’re all there for a common purpose. But ultimately, I do it because I have certain skills that are beneficial to these organizations, and I have a responsibility to serve the community that is my lifeblood.

Also, when I’m looking for new work and I need references or referrals, these organizations are a great source for both. So there’s a lot in it for me, and I’m cool with that.

How does this translate to the real world for authors and publishing folks? It can be as simple as thanking a reader or as complex as setting up a foundation. One thing I know to be true is that (most of the) super successful authors—you know, the ones who inhabit the top of all the bestseller lists the world over—invest in kindness. They take the time to be compassionate. They treat their readers (customers) with respect.

We all want to feel appreciated. To be seen. To be supported in times when we might not even realize how much we need it. So kindness does, in fact, matter…as a marketing tactic as well as a human attribute.