In the past, marketing and advertising were all about how much you could “get” – getting the customer to watch your ad, getting people to buy your product, getting people to remember your catchy advertising jingle. But today, in the era of social media, online research and mobile apps, when consumers have more information and greater transparency than ever before to know about the brands and products they buy, it’s not good enough to make your marketing about “getting.” Instead, smart small business owners today are focusing their marketing on “giving.”
The new big trend in marketing is generosity. Generosity in marketing can take several forms. Many businesses try to create a sense of generosity in their marketing by offering great value in the form of content marketing. For example, Kabbage offers this free blog full of small business advice and helpful resources; the goal is by giving all of this value to small business owners for free, maybe our readers will be more inclined to consider getting a small business loan from Kabbage. Other businesses offer generous discounts, coupons or customer loyalty programs to reward their best customers.
Another form of generosity marketing is related to connecting your business with a favorite cause or a sense of mission to serve the community. This type of generous marketing can be seen in a variety of examples around the country.
In Detroit, there was recently a news story about James Robertson, a man who could not afford a car and didn’t have reliable transportation, so he walked to work at his factory job every day – 21 miles round trip – for 10 years. This story created a public outcry – many people were shocked and saddened at Robertson’s circumstances, but also impressed and heartened by his display of self-reliance, discipline and work ethic. People raised more than $300,000 for James Robertson on GoFundMe, and a local Ford dealership announced that they were giving him a free new Ford Taurus (with a suggested retail price of $35,000) so that he would never have to make that long walk to work again. Several other businesses – law firms and financial planning firms – volunteered their services to help James manage the money from his online donation windfall.
This was a particularly extreme and high profile example, but it goes to show how companies and communities will rally to support a good cause – and how companies can have a chance to contribute while promoting their own brands in the service of helping people in need.
In my own home city of Des Moines, Iowa, there is an Italian restaurant on the South Side of Des Moines called Chef D’s Rock Power Pizza, where the owner, Chef Derrick Walton (known as “Chef D”) offers a special free pizza dinner for homeless people every Monday night. Derrick Walton has been interviewed in news articles saying that earlier in his life, he was homeless, and he resolved to himself that in the future, if he ever were in a position to help other people in those circumstances, he would help. So now that he runs his own restaurant, every Monday night he closes his restaurant to the public and offers a free pizza dinner to people in need. Chef D was recently featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and Ellen gave him $10,000 to help provide additional pizza dinners. This is a great example of how a small business can make generosity central to its mission and its marketing.
Another example of generosity in marketing is small business owner April Leffingwell, founder of Shea CHIC Boutique, who was recently featured in a Kabbage blog article on entrepreneurs who overcame big odds to start their businesses. April gives generously to animal charities and helps pay for veterinary medical care for animals in need, and she makes this sense of generosity part of her business’s message, marketing and mission.
There are many great examples all around us of how small businesses and entrepreneurs can use their generous spirits to make a difference for people (and animals) in need. Generosity is the new marketing. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s often the most effective way to get people to learn about (and remember) your business. If you give people a reason to love you and root for you, they’ll be more willing to buy from you, spread the word about what you do – and keep coming back.
How does your business make a difference for those in need? Tell us in the comments below.