BRANDING

Market Like Patagonia, Warby Parker, and Tom's Shoes

Your social values can be a boon to your brand--and your revenue. Here's how.
SHOE DROP: TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie in Los Pelotones for the first "shoe drop" of 10,000 pairs.
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In a noisy, competitive business world, you need all the help you can get to stand out. Your customers have many choices, and need to know why it makes the most sense to do business with you and not your competitors.

Don't miss one of the most important decision-making factors that consumers, who are more socially-conscious than ever before, use to make a buying decision: values.

You probably already have a social compass. Maybe it's outlined on a poster on the wall of your company cafeteria. Maybe it even already does a good job of guiding your employees' professional behavior. But do people who don't work for you know what social issues you and your employees stand for? If not, you're leaving one of the strongest cards in your marketing hand on the table.

Tell your customers what your values are.

Build your values into your brand. Weave them into your marketing messages. Customers with a similar mindset will gravitate to you, and draw them to you with strong emotions because you care about what they care about.

There are good examples you can learn from. Entrepreneurs who have shown their values and stood by them have seen it pay off in increased sales and higher customer loyalty.

Take a cue from Patagonia, Warby Parker, and Tom's Shoes.

Take Patagonia, for example, the maker of outdoor clothing and gear. It not only tells customers that it uses a portion of profits to help make the earth greener and healthier, but it also put in place standards so that its vendors adhere to those ecological commitments too. And in 2011 Patagonia had a 30 percent increase in revenue and opened a dozen new stores to meet increased demand. While admittedly sales growth is a function of multiple factors, loyal customers voice their approval of Patagonia's conservation efforts in blog posts.

Another good example is Warby Parker, which sells eyewear online. Right from its launch in 2010, Warby Parker told customers it believed it was an injustice that huge portions of the world population needed glasses but couldn't afford them. Warby Parker pledged to keep its prices down, and made its mission to make eyewear affordable for so many more consumers. Customer reviews and strong sales prove Warby Parker right.

Tom's, the shoe company, has done a great job communicating its values mission too. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone decide ultimately to buy shoes from Tom's because it heard about the company's incredible policy of sending a pair of shoes to a needy person for every pair of shoes you buy.

Your customers will love you, too.

Think about it. You also have values. Your passionate about particular causes. Bring them to work with you. Stitch them into the fabric of your business. Make them a part of everything you do. And then tell everyone. Shout it from the top of a mountain, and your flag. Your customers will love you for it.

And if it's there's a little breeze on that mountain top, zip up your new Patagonia windbreaker. Your purchase may help plant a tree.

IMAGE: Newscom
Last updated: Apr 18, 2013

JEFF HOFFMAN | Columnist | Co-founder, ColorJar

Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of ColorJar, is a serial entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of Priceline.com and uBid.com. He is also a frequent public speaker on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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