Blake Mycoskie gets it. At the IDEA conference yesterday Blake was the first speaker, and he set the tone for the entire afternoon, as speaker after speaker echoed his sentiments. Blake is the guy behind TOMS Shoes, a worthy company with a worthy mission. For every pair of TOMS purchased, Blake gives a pair of TOMS to kids in Argentina and other impoverished areas, kids who don’t have any shoes at all.
TOMS works because Blake adheres to several key principles that form the cornerstone of successfull brands:
1. Be authentic
Blake makes honest products, delivers on promises and puts his money where his mouth is. People respect that. I love his super simple mantra: One for one. You buy one pair, we’ll give one pair away. One for one.
2. Be transparent
Blake’s team goes down to Argentina every two weeks. He’s always looking for people to come join him to see for themselves the impact TOMS is having.
3. Make it a mission, not a job
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Blake shared an awesome video of high school kids who sell shoes at their schools. They aren’t doing it for themselves, they’re doing it to help others. He also shared this anecdote: People come to their offices for the first time and ask, “Which one is Tom?” An employee will point to someone and say, “That’s Tom over there,” when it might really be Joe or Mike. Then they’ll say, “And that’s Tom over there” pointing to a female colleague. The point is, they are all Tom.
4. Give to get
At the end of his presentation, Blake asked us all to send him a text message. Everyone who did got a free pair of TOMS, and Blake gave a pair on our behalf. Now, if he’d hadn’t done that, would I still have written this post? Maybe. Would I have bought a pair? Probably not. Will I tell everyone the story of TOMS shoes everytime I wear that free pair? You bet. So, for one free pair of shoes, Blake gets this blog post (and no doubt I’ll write about TOMS again) plus he’s created a brand advocate (which is better than a key influencer).
I’ll have more from the IDEA conference over the next several days.