I spent most of last Saturday watching TedxManhattan: Changing the Way We Eat, a day-long series of speakers exploring everything from local food distribution systems to changing how school students are fed, meatless Mondays, and even using crickets as a protein source! I learned a lot and was excited to see how many different people are working in so many ways to improve our food systems.
Chef Tom Colicchio, Chef/Owner Craft Restaurants, and food justice advocate, was the last speaker of the day. He told a great story of how he attended a benefit for a food bank in New York City where over $2 million was raised. Everyone felt good about that – and rightfully so. Then, not long after, Congress cut $8.9 billion from the food stamp program, and as Colicchio pointed out, there would have to be a benefit raising $2 million- every day for 12 years – in order to make up that difference.
A lot of impact in that story, right?
And it reflects a value that’s important to Chef Colicchio and many others in the local food movement. I think most people who are working for more sustainable food with a local or regional focus are doing so because it supports some of their key values. It’s too much work for most to do simply for a paycheck!
This all got me to thinking about how we express our values in our marketing efforts. And should we?
“Yes,” is the short answer, I think, because in many ways, those values are part of what sets us apart from other companies offering the same services or products.
And I don’t mean values are always front and center – “I believe A, therefore buy my B.” But I do believe that it’s our values that determine what stories we tell; we choose the stories that best support what we believe.
And in the example of Colicchio, above, the story he told was background for his involvement in Food Policy Action, an organization formed “to hold Congress accountable for their votes on government programs that alleviate hunger and encourage good farming practices.” In addition to education, Food Policy Action also produces a National Food Policy Scorecard that provides information about voting records of Senate and House members.
I think the other reason that it’s good for your values to show up in your marketing is that it reflects who you are as a person. I always say that one of my attractions to the local eating concept was my two children; I’d like them to know where their food comes from and help them to make healthy choices. That’s important to me, and it’s part of why I do the work that I do.
Marketing – especially when you’re a small business or solopreneur – is your public face to the marketplace. Sharing the values behind your business is a bridge to reach out to your potential customers and let them see there’s a real person there. It raises the “know, like, and trust” factor, so connecting with those who share your values offers common ground for networking, idea-sharing, and other opportunities, including sales, of course.
As he summarized his talk last weekend, Colicchio lamented that most people on Capitol Hill aren’t even aware that there is a “food movement.” He suggested that going forward, the local, sustainable, organic community must work together, vote together, and speak with one voice, in order to let Congress know that, indeed, there is a food movement, and as he said, “we’re coming for you.”
Common values – and shared stories – is what will drive that effort forward. It will, also work for your marketing. Where are your values showing up in marketing?