The Impact of Socks: How Bombas Invites Customers to Make a Difference
When you think about the type of business that can have an impact on the world, you probably don’t think about socks.
Socks have the distinction of being an item that everyone buys but no one really pays attention to. But as it happens, they are also the single most requested clothing item in homeless shelters.
This startling fact became the impetus for Bombas founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg to start their company.1 They set out to create a supremely comfortable sock with an end goal of meeting the demand for socks at homeless shelters. They knew the impact they wanted to achieve with their solution.
As it happens, the impact element of their mission has been key in propelling their company to success, and the effects of their charity have been widely felt. Since its inception in 2013, Bombas has donated tens of millions of socks, contributing a free pair for every pair sold.2
When you start your business, the results you hope to achieve (and avoid) are a critical part of your mission. The ability to measure your impact will be pivotal for both you and your customers.
To determine what kind of impact you want your business to have, start by identifying what success would look like. You may have included some of these things in your “why," but the goal here would be to paint the picture more vividly and in greater detail. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want customers to be saying to you because of your product? (“my life was changed,” “this changed my business,” “this was an inspiration to me,” etc.)
- How could high degrees of purchase or participation change the market landscape or the adoption of the solution / elimination of the problem? (People won’t have to deal with X anymore; this problem will be reduced, leading to Y; the market will move toward solutions based on Z, which is better because of A, etc.)
- How could your solution have an impact on people’s lives or the world at large? (People will feel more hopeful; people will enjoy their lives more; people will experience [this kind of result]; people will be able focus on what matters most to them; the way business is done will change [in this positive way], the environment will be preserved [in this particular way], etc.)
The other side of impact is deficit. You also need to know what’s at stake if you don’t succeed. To identify what failure might look like for your business, consider these questions:
- What will people continue to experience because your solution didn’t reach them? (They will feel X; they will have issues with Y; they will have to do Z instead; they will lose A, B, and C; etc.
- How might the problem increase or get worse without your solution? (People may begin to experience X; [these related problems] could arise; the industry will not advance [in this particular way], leading to Y.)
- What will people be saying if they continue to struggle with the problem? (“I am never able to do X,” “I am stuck because of Y,” “I feel frustrated and desperate because of [this unresolved issue].”)
Exercise: Define the Impact of Your Solution
Answer the questions above to define the impact of your solution.
Having your answers written down can provide clarity to help you move forward and stay motivated as you build your business. Keep this list handy, because you can polish some of this material for your customers when you create marketing messages.
Defining the impact of your solution is another way you can inform your customers about the natural consequences of their action or inaction, allowing them to envision the results and make their choice with confidence.
This is an edited excerpt from my book Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners, which you can purchase on Amazon.
1. Montag, A. (2017, August 22). How Daymond John faced failure and ended up winning big. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/21/shark-tank-investor-daymond-john-won-big-with-bombas.html
2. About Bombas. Bombas. https://bombas.com/pages/about-us