One of the simplest, yet least utilized, marketing tools any business has is simply using good manners in their dealings with others. Business etiquette makes a statement about your business philosophy that no Mission Statement can. Like the old adage "Actions speak louder than words," how you treat others says more than any slogans you use in your advertising.
Etiquette is a set of standards for behavior in dealing with others. Manners are how you put those standards into practice. Every business should have that set of standards clearly defined and practiced in every interaction. When implemented well, business etiquette is like a common language that all of you speak. It can include things like always returning calls the same day, dressing professionally, and speaking with courtesy to your customers, vendors and fellow workers.
Some businesses address the need for etiquette standards by writing a code of conduct, and others even post it on the wall. Most of us are familiar with the concept of conduct codes in a military setting, but they are equally useful and important in business. Google is famously known for including "Don't do evil" in theirs. Some of the other practices Google considers important for each of their employees and board members to follow are: to serve their users; respect each other; avoid conflicts of interest; preserve confidentiality; protect Google's assets; ensure financial integrity and responsibility; and obey the law.
However you wish to express this in your business, what is most important is for the people in charge to actually live by those standards, and to reward others who are also following the code. Part of this is listening - to employees, customers, the marketplace - and adjusting your standards based on what you hear. Listening implies respect, a commodity that gets you respected back.
While many of the common courtesies that are part of normal business etiquette are well known, some special considerations need to be made when crossing cultures. Not only do different cultures internationally have different expectations of what constitutes etiquette, but different cultures within our own society can have differing expectations. For instance, senior citizens can have a very different perspective than college-age students. Asian-Americans may see the same situation differently than Hispanics. We are a diverse society with very different views on what constitutes appropriate behavior. Consequently, good manners include respecting these differences and treating them appropriately.
Internationally, it is extremely important to know local etiquette customs if you are going to have successful business transactions. For a start, before working internationally, learn about their political system, leaders, heroes, and language. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a World Factbook online that gives detailed information about every country. This contains invaluable information that will aid in any international venture. Be sensitive to other customs such as business attire, gift giving, and protocols for negotiating. There are numerous books and websites that provide in-depth information about expectations around the world.
The bottom line is that the behavior exhibited in how you conduct your business has a profound effect on your financial success. It makes good business sense to set standards and live them. And, as an added benefit, it makes for a much more pleasant working environment.