Many of the important anchors you drop are internal, meant only for the development of the people in the trenches with you each day. But sometimes, it’s important to drop anchors that reach externally in the world and set the temperature with those you serve.
Black Friday, the day that begins at midnight on Thanksgiving with millions of excited shoppers rushing retail locations for discounted items, has been growing rapidly.
Last year Americans spent 1.7 billion dollars on Black Friday, up twenty percent from the year before. Despite studies that show that forty-nine percent of consumers disapprove of stores opening at midnight on Thanksgiving, the monetary success has been huge for many companies.
In 2015, REI, the mammoth specialty outdoor retailer and nation’s largest consumer co-op, went against the grain. They decided to drop an anchor that would send a different message to their followers. They saw an opportunity to anchor many of their individual actions in a way that would align better with the temperature they are trying to set and the true spirit of their brand.
With their “OptOutside” (#OptOutside) campaign, they announced that they would be closing their doors on Black Friday.
A huge gasp echoed throughout the retail world at the idea that they were turning away from the floods of people and dollars that Black Friday brings. Even better, REI announced to their 12,000 employees at all 143 of their retail locations, office, and distribution centers, that they would be paid for the day and encouraged to go spend the day outside with their family and friends.
In a moment, REI had captivated the minds and hearts of its people far and wide and taken them back to the root of why they exist as a company. They anchored the message of their values in a concrete and visible action. It made their values even more clear and recognizable to all.
Oh, and for those of you who still can’t let go of the idea of all the business they were turning away by closing their doors, analytics after the weekend showed a 26 percent increase in online traffic.
It is important to point out that this same action would not have worked everywhere. Yes, it was a brilliant marketing idea, but it worked because it was authentic to REI.
It was perfectly aligned with who they already had shown they were through the millions of tiny actions that went into building their brand.
The most successful teams, families, and entities of any kind continually find new ways to share stories and messages that anchor their values and the temperature they are trying to set.
Jason V. Barger is a globally celebrated keynote speaker, leadership coach and author of Thermostat Cultures, Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember. He is founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, a Columbus-based company that works with businesses and organizations worldwide. Connect via email at jason@JasonVBarger.com or on social media at @JasonVBarger.
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