Marketing is difficult, especially when you aren’t a marketer by trade; lucky for me the Adelante story is naturally compelling. It is a story of connection and respect that echoes of broad sweeping change with the potential to uproot entrenched and exploitative production processes. So yeah, compelling.
The challenge I continually face is conveying this message without leaning on it. The number of half-day strategy calls I have had with the team focused on sorting this out is almost equal to the number of notebooks I have filled with the same — that is to say a lot.
If anything, we are a product first brand. Our shoes are a superior quality and we never want to use our social impact model as a crutch. Instead we want our product to speak for itself; customers see the quality and value of our shoes and are sold on it, the social impact is added value to the consumer and more importantly, the craftsmen.
I don’t want to discredit the role of social impact in our strategic model, because it is absolutely fundamental—it is why Adelante Shoe Co exists. Our founder Peter Sacco noted in a previous blog post that:
“Adelante isn’t actually about shoes or fashion. Rather, the shoes are a vehicle for a simple, powerful idea that can change the world: if business shifts its objective from profit maximization to responsible profit, the private sector can become an unparalleled force for good.”
That statement is something I keep in mind with every piece of copy I create. The shoes are a vehicle for a larger objective, one that can only be achieved by delivering an incredible product, with an incredible experience. What we are really trying to do is make social enterprise mainstream.
Adelante wants people to see that a company founded on social impact doesn’t need to compromise on quality, style, or price. We do not want consumers to think that just because a company “promotes social good” that they deliver a sub-par product and that you, as the consumer, pay a premium for that impact.
Adelante’s goal is to transform the consumer psyche, to show that you can have a superior product that positively impacts the lives of others without compromise. We stand by the belief that if consumers become accustomed to the notion that quality, style, price and impact are not mutually exclusive, they will consistently choose the product that gives back to the world in a meaningful way.
I have been asked many times what Adelante has to do with international relations, a discipline more associated with the foreign service than the shoe business. For me the two undertakings are deeply intertwined.