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Tom’s Shoes

November 16, 2007

Before I continue with my manifesto, I thought it might be wise to demonstrate an example or two of what I’m talking about. So this is Example Number One.


When Blake Mycoskie first started contemplating building a shoe manufacturing business, he started with this crazy notion that he might be able to make money and help the world simultaneously. Rather than build his business for massive profits, a percentage of which would be donated to worthy causes, he created Tom’s Shoes on this business model: for every shoe purchased, he sends a pair of (new) shoes to some place in the world where shoes rarely exist, but where they are sorely needed.

According to his website, he’s delivered 10,000 shoes to Argentina.

This hits the Consequential Value matrix on both sides. On the Consequence to Consumer, his efforts are physically very real, completely tangible–real shoes on the feet of real, desperately needy children. He scores huge in the categories of Material/Physical Impact and Global Impact. The Emotional/Spiritual Impact must be acknowledged to because of the well-being effect on the shoes’ recipients and the workers who delivered them. (We’ll assign numerical values later—right now we’re just talking.)

On the Benefit to Brand side, Tom also scores big in all 5 categories. To one degree or another, he’s educated his customers about the needs of the poor and of his brand’s mission; he’s involved his customers to the point of contribution (the mission encouraged purchase); the effort inspires the consumer to continue to buy; and surely customers become evangelistic about the brand. And in my opinion the brand gets a significant lift because the customer probably perceives Tom’s generosity as genuine.

If you’re skeptical about the brand lift, consider that Tom’s Shoes got the kind of promotion most companies only lust for—a documentary about the company and an NPR segment about the documentary.

Can you honestly say it didn’t cross your mind to buy a pair of Tom’s Shoes before you even got a look at them? How many brands do you know with that kind of pull?

Tom’s generous heart combined with sharp entrepreneurial skill brought about significant “consequential value”—in this case for the consumer, a huge group of non-customers, and for the brand itself.

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