Lisa and I were recently traveling the South Island of New Zealand for two glorious weeks. It was absolutely amazing – New Zealand is indeed adventure-land. On several occasions when chatting with folks in NZ we found ourselves telling the tale of what Common Soles is up to. For the most part, everyone responds quite well to our story (or at least we tend to meet very nice people!). They can get into the Common Soles story quite easily, as most everyone appreciates businesses that take on a social bent.
What’s interesting though is where the conversation typically goes after the initial back-and-forth on what Common Soles is and what we are up to. 9 times out of 10 we hear stories of other small social ventures the individual knows of, either through a personal connection, or something they heard about via the media that resonated with them. Folks get incredibly excited to share the stories of these socially responsible organizations. It’s really neat experiencing the energy that is generated during conversations on social ventures. People get really excited about them regardless of their association with the organization, and regardless of whether or not they have even conducted a transaction with that organization!
That's what is really interesting to me. I don’t think for-profit social ventures are fully leveraging the power we have in the circles we communicate within. We’ve got more influence that we realize as we’re getting our message out to more folks than who we actually engage with. It’s viral. It’s so viral that marketing, PR, and other cause-related agencies are sprouting up all over to offer guidance and expertise to brands on how to do it right, and then maximize the benefits. But what is “doing it right?” and what exactly are “the benefits”?
We believe we’ve got some pretty good answers for those questions.
Doing it right: That comes down to being as transparent as possible, and actually effecting the change we preach about. We don’t aim to change the world, just the micro-initiatives we bring to you via our initiatives page. Better to complete these bite-sized initiatives successfully, then to plan and talk about large, earth changing initiatives that never actually get implemented. It’s also about operating in a responsible manner – ya, that’s a big one…
The benefits: This ties into my above statement. The benefits of Common Soles initiatives are immediately tangible. Give a kid a new book and they will use it. Fix up a classroom not being used and voila, it’ll get used. You get the point.
These conversations weren’t exclusive to New Zealand, we’re having them all over. Everywhere we journey we find ourselves listening to strangers tell us about their favorite social venture. And even though the ventures are all different – the intense positive energy and genuine excitement emitted is all the same.