I’ll never forget the first conversation I had with my friend, Meagan. We were hiking in the Angeles National Forest outside of L.A. There were rather a lot of us on this day hike as friends-of-friends rounded out our original core group of hikers to about 15 or 20. We split off into smaller groups of twos and threes as fitness levels and varying degrees of patience created a kind of natural selection process and determined who was going to end up in conversation together.
Meagan and I found ourselves together and as we made our way down the trail we discovered that we both loved traveling and had done a lot of it. As we talked I was starting to realize how much I liked this person, but when our discussion turned to food and cooking – another passion for both of us – the conversation had gotten to the point where we were already planning our next meeting. But then Penzeys came up and that’s when we knew we’d be friends. You may know that Penzeys is a company that sells spices, herbs and seasonings. These days they have specialty shops all over the country, but back when I first met Meagan they were a fairly small mail order business. Not many people knew about Penzeys in those days, but Meagan and I were both huge fans, and once we realized this our conversation – and friendship – really had gone next level.
Today Meagan and I live across the country from one another but we’ve stayed friends. We both are still loyal Penzeys customers too, and that’s the issue that I want to talk about in this blog post. Penzeys has always had a strong brand and a clear voice. Back when they were the “little guy” there were certain things that they always talked about, and which came across in all of their materials: quality, integrity and a kind of homeyness. It made Penzeys customers feel loyal and inspired, like we were part of a movement of goodness, healthy home cooking and a place where the little guy could come out on top.
Now, decades later, the tone of Penzeys hasn’t changed much, even though the business has become much, much larger. The company has put their voice behind social issues and hasn’t been shy about political ones, either. While their choices may cost Penzeys the business of a few customers, the remaining ones are loyal advocates who feel like the company understands them. And the steady growth of Penzeys earnings speaks for itself as a testament to what happens when you’re real and authentic. You end up with a tribe of brand advocates – loyal customers like me and Meagan who not only talk about the brand, but who bond over it, forming a life-long friendship halfway up a mountain!
These days, more than ever before, it’s imperative that businesses begin to show their real selves to the world as a way to attract the right people to them. Even corporations need to realize that it’s okay to be a little weird and quirky. Trying to please everyone only leads to a bland vanilla brand that no one will ever get excited over, so go ahead and let your hair down. Be yourself.
Take a chance and share your thoughts. Let us hear your voice, peek behind the curtain of your operation, see you step in front of the camera. When you find the courage to let your voice be heard, and do so consistently, week after week, you’ll watch with amazement as your tribe begins to form around you, one loyal follower at a time.
Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit. Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017. To find out more about how you can use video to grow your business visit our website.