Stunts Are Fun. Movements, Like the Small Business Revolution, Are More Meaningful.

July 23, 2018

On set for filming Season 3 of Small Business Revolution – Main Street, with Ty Pennington and Amanda Brinkman.

It’s not every day you drive Ty Pennington around rural Illinois in a rental car. So when I recently found myself in that scenario, I took the moment to reflect on how I ended up here. (More on that in a minute.)

It’s no secret that brands love one-off stunts that generate attention-grabbing headlines. But more often than not, stunts are a flash-in-the-pan moment, resulting in short-lived social media chatter. The team tallies up a spike in impressions (and maybe a brief spike in sales). They circulate articles (most likely from ad trades), exchange high-fives, and resume business as usual.

The most powerful programs, however, are rooted in a sound strategy – a framework that can guide a brand for years to come. That strategy ensures that the brand’s efforts are constantly building toward something bigger. And in some cases, that “something bigger” can only be described as a cultural movement.

That’s what I was experiencing firsthand while driving my rental car around Alton, Illinois. Alton – a beautiful, small town, nestled along the Missouri River – was named winner of Season 3 of Small Business Revolution – Main Street. Each year, our client Deluxe Corporation 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 showcases the transformation.

The Small Business Revolution is rooted in an incredibly strong strategy, and its impact – both on Deluxe’s brand and on communities around the country – has grown exponentially every year. I was in Alton for the final week of filming Season 3. Deluxe enlisted Ty Pennington to star alongside the show’s host, Amanda Brinkman, which is why I was playing chauffeur.

Filming at Lighthouse Sounds in Alton.

While exploring Alton, I remembered how, when we set out to create the Small Business Revolution, we and our friends at Deluxe frequently talked about wanting to create a “movement.” I had no doubt that we were on the cusp of launching an incredible campaign, but I’ll be the first to admit that “movement” seemed like a pretty audacious goal.

Now, several years later, I’ve visited amazing small towns all over the country. I’ve met countless small business owners. I’ve been invited into people’s homes and into their lives. They’ve shared their stories, their struggles, and in one case, some exceptionally fine Irish whiskey. And they’ve talked about the immense impact that the Small Business Revolution has made.

Even towns that didn’t win the Small Business Revolution have leveraged the momentum and revitalized their communities. And in the meantime, Deluxe has (deservedly) gained an incredible amount of attention – more than 3.5 billion earned and social media impressions, to be exact.

Not every brand needs to set its sights on creating a cultural movement. But it sure is fun being part of one once you have.

Stay tuned for Season 3 of Small Business Revolution – Main Street, which debuts in early October. And if you haven’t already, go binge watch Season 1 and Season 2.