April 18, 2017
As marketers, it’s not every day that we get to immerse ourselves in a campaign that truly changes people’s lives.
Sure, more and more brands are recognizing that Millennials want to support businesses that have a “cause” component, and that’s a great thing. But I’m talking about truly embedding yourself into a community and its residents, and having the rare opportunity to help make a personal, lasting, indelible difference in the lives of individuals, firsthand.
Many of you are familiar with our work on the “Small Business Revolution – Main Street” project, with our clients at Deluxe Corporation. In a nutshell, the program offers up a $500,000 revitalization to one lucky small town and its Main Street businesses, plus a starring role in a web series that showcased the transformation. We received a remarkable 14,000 nominations for season two, narrowed the list to a handful of finalists, and the public cast nearly a million votes. Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania, earned the top prize.
I had the honor of spending the past few days in Bristol (my third visit to the inspiring town) for the final filming for season two. The highlight was a town-wide celebration, which marked not only a culmination of Deluxe’s work, but also the hard work that the town’s residents, leaders and small business owners put into winning the prize in the first place.
As Bill Pezza, president of Bristol Borough’s “Raising the Bar” organization and our key contact in town, put it: “This gathering carries so many emotions: Pride for what the town has accomplished, sadness in saying goodbye to the generous people behind the Small Business Revolution and joy at the prospect of being able to relax at the end of a long period of hard work.”
The celebration attracted people from throughout the community and beyond to the picturesque shore of the Delaware River. They toted in lawn chairs and picnic blankets on a hot summer afternoon to eagerly listen to remarks from Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe and her Small Business Revolution co-host Robert Herjavec (of Shark Tank). Amanda expressed her admiration for the community, and described how the revolution has really only just begun for Bristol.
When it was his turn to take the mic, Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe II told our team, “Wherever this journey takes us, we want you to remember one thing: Bristol Borough is always a place you can call home.” In an emotional moment, he then awarded Amanda with the key to the city.
I was lucky enough to attend the town-wide celebrations when we concluded filming in both Bristol and Wabash, Indiana, the winner of season one. And beyond that, I was welcomed into people’s businesses and their homes. Everyone waxed on about the difference we were making, but I can attest to the fact that our team’s lives were changed too. And it’s no doubt that many members of our Small Business Revolution team have made lifelong connections in both Bristol and Wabash, which is pretty incredible in marketing (or any other line of work, for that matter).
Here’s a photo of us raising a glass in Wabash one year ago, to toast the first season of the Small Business Revolution. If you find yourself getting an opportunity to make real-life, human connections in your career, I’d encourage you to take a step back, savor the moment, and raise a glass, too.
Stay tuned for season two of Small Business Revolution – Main Street, which comes out later this fall, and you can see firsthand what makes Bristol special. And if you haven’t already, check out season one, about Wabash, here.