This is a portion of my interview with Brandon Frank from Fleet Feet. I have talked to a many business owners and there is a common thread you will hear woven through these conversations. It’s the “Giver’s Gain” philosophy. The more you give the more you get.
This is hardwired into us as human beings. If you are given something of value and it’s unexpected or unsolicited, people’s first natural reaction is to return the favor. It is hardwired into us. Think about a time someone gave you something out of the blue. Maybe it was a book or a gift card or a even a compliment. Your reaction was probably gratitude quickly followed up with “what can I do for this person”?
Brandon has done this as well as anyone I know. This conversation highlights how he has taken this philosophy and made it the base of his marketing plan.
We talk about how taking the marketing process and seeing it differently. Business owners see marketing in traditional terms. Where can I put my marketing dollars to get the best return on my investment? They think of things like, Facebook Ad’s, Instagram Ad’s, coupons, mailers, newspaper, radio, TV, billboards and events.
All of these things come with a cost. What if you took the cost of any of those and used the money to do something to give back to the community? Donate goods or services or time to a cause you align with. It needs to be done strategically to maximize your exposure and make it worthwhile, but if done properly, it can produce tremendous returns.
Matt: What was your marketing plan before you got started? You understand that getting in the community and contributing in a positive way is only gonna 31:34 reflect positively on your business. So what was your mentality when you first opened, and what is your mentality today when it comes to getting out to the community? What kind of things are you doing and how has that paid off for you?
Brandon: So my philosophy on community support is just to be the nicest most helpful person I can be. We have a lot of events and causes and schools that will reach out for our support.32:02 And we will always say yes. That’s my rule. We will always say yes. It’s just a matter of what can we actually give to that particular event. So, in a way, saying yes to any opportunity has allowed us to get in front of a lot of people. I think the coolest part in this last year was that there was a local church real life ministries 32:29 that wanted to outfit the entire school, which was 450 kids. And they’d raise money through their church and they were gonna go to Walmart or just buy a bunch of 20$ shoes or 25$ shoes.
One of our customers and community members have been going through some of our training program talked to the church. They asked them to talk to Fleetfeet to see what we think. And for that 20$ or 22$ for each pair of shoe, we got them a 60$ pair of shoes for each one of these kids 32:59 . We are able to go to the school and fit each kid individually to make sure they were wearing the right size.
Matt: That’s tremendous.
Brandon: It was, and Justin at Real Life Ministry and their whole crew over there, some of the most generous and kind people you’ll ever come across. An that’s how they wanted to support their community. So here in Idaho and here in Boise and here in the church, I think it’s the thing that really drew us. It’s that larger sense of community and giving to the community.33:29
Matt: So let me ask really quick because I’m interested. From a business standpoint and an economic standpoint, did you guys make any money out of that? And I’m not saying that that’s why you would do it, I know the reason you did it, it was because you wanted to give back so that next time the people wanted to buy a pair of shoes they first automatically think of you. So, was there an economic advantage in something like that that could sway?34:01 Because if you’re gonna lose money on that, you’ve gotta weigh your decision on cash. Asking if you want to take a hit on this. What was that like?
Brandon: Yeah. Well I think the numbers part of me would say ”ok so we’ve got 450 kids, we’ve got 400 families. So there’s a ton of opportunities for us to sell those kids shoes. So there’s an opportunity cost. And then you look at the cost per shoe and the time it would take to do it. 34:31 Then we’re not gonna get all the kids right. Probably 5% of the kids got wrong sizes and didn’t like the color so we have to re-order. So, on paper right out of the gate, we’re definitely gonna lose money on this. And if we let the numbers stop us from doing things that are good for the community, then I don’t know of too many opportunities that we would actually follow through on. 34:58 Sometimes you just have to say ”this is the right thing to do. Those kids deserve to be taken care of” and I think there is a universal law out there that says that the more that you give it will come around in someway.
Matt: I would agree 100%
Brandon: And to me, it was the joy of going to that school and seeing the look on these kid’s faces as they got free pairs of shoes. Some kids were wearing flip flops. And this is on Christmas time. They’d take their shoes off and have a hole in their sock. We bought a bunch of socks in too. 35:31
Matt: I just wanted to pick your brain. Cause I mean, finances drive decisions as well. And so I would imagine there would have been a number where you’re like ”we’re gonna take a hit on this and it’s gonna be too big.” And there would have been a number that would have been too big for you guys.
Matt: So, I just wanted to kind of make the point that I know a decision like that is almost an advertisement. 36:01 Like how much do you want to spend advertising to 450 people really face to face. So it’s an investment for sure. So you spent x amount of dollars to advertise in a really awesome creative way. And in a really personal way and in a really giving way, so that’s very different than running the ads on the paper. And you could probably have run a really nice ad for what you spent for that. But we know that the return of investment for something like that is really big. 36:33
Brandon: Yeah. And it worked out well. Two television stations ended up picking up the story.
Brandon: And so they came to the school and interviewed us and so it all works out. But I do really believe in that. Just being the most kind and the most helpful and always saying yes. it’s just a matter of what. I think that’s the best part of human nature. 36:57 It’s that if you can give and give and give, it will come back.
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