Big businesses tend not to take sides. They try very hard not to offend anyone at all. They walk the middle of the road. They bend with the wind of opinion, apologising for everything. They are never, ever, political.
Which is all very nice, but it tends to mean that we don’t really care about them. Think about the businesses and brands you really care about. Do you know what they care about? Do they care about anything?
I wanted to share a story from Penzeys Spices.
No, I hadn’t heard of them either.
They’re a small business in Wisconsin, and look like they do great spice blends. Some friends of mine say they are the best. But what caught my attention was a post that one of those friends shared from Penzeys, about the 75th anniversary of Casablanca, one of the greatest films ever.
Get past the sales message and bam! Political statement number one. So I think we know straight away that this is not a Trump supporter.
But even that is unusual, in being that upfront about a political alliance. It also then goes on to be very human and talks about the film being about love. They wish us all love. And they talk about cooking and love, so back to their business, but not in a clunky way.
Won’t they offend someone?
God, yes. But there’ll also be lots of people who love them. And perhaps there’s more than enough of them to make a good business.
Even a very good business.
Particularly as this appears to be a very authentic part of who Penzeys are. They were out supporting the Women’s March in Washington in 2017, they urged people to vote in 2016 (without telling them which way to vote), they’ve spoken out about the Affordable Care Act.
I hope within all of this that Penzeys is brilliant at the core of their business, that the spices are incredible. I don’t even know what I’d do with a mix called Mural of Flavor, but I want to buy it. But the additional stories from them, the conviction without preaching and worthiness, well, that would convince me to part with my money.
Otherwise, you may as well buy from the supermarket.
Stand for something. Stand out. Stand up and be counted
It’s an advantage you have over big businesses. They’re too scared to.
Yes, there’ll be people who don’t like you, object to you. But wouldn’t you rather be liked by people who value the things that you do? People that are in your tribe. People that get you.
Aren’t they the people you’re going to create content for and make them go “oh, this business gets me”. It goes both ways. It stops you merging into beige blandness. It makes the connection between them and you. And businesses we’re connected with are the businesses that matter to us.
And it doesn’t have to be something strident and angry. Take the Military Match Program from Community Coffee.
When you buy coffee, they send coffee to the US Military. They send handwritten notes in with those boxes to say that the military men and women are appreciated. They support veteran organisations. And this is just one of the things they get involved with.
They stand for something; they stand for community.
What does your business stand for? Tell that story. Show people what you stand for, what you care about. Those are stories worth telling, and they are stories people will remember, and tell for you.
So, what do you stand for?