Big brands have a lot of money and marketing horsepower behind them – which they use to make an impact through large advertising campaigns and high-profile sponsorships. Think of brands that buy full-page ads in multiple daily national papers, run intense nationwide TV campaigns, and have their names on stadiums, golf tournaments or bowl games.
So how do companies that are smaller make a large impact without multi-million dollar advertising budgets? It is simple. They take actions that really connect with their customer.

Scott Kolbe riding at the MS150 in Columbia, MO.

Scott Kolbe riding at the MS150 in Columbia, MO.

Kaldi’s Coffee is a St. Louis-based boutique coffee company that has 12 total stores. The company has done numerous events and festivals throughout St. Louis sharing its products while also aligning its events with the company core values.
One example is Team Kaldi’s, the MS150 bike team sponsored for the last decade. Team Kaldi’s was born after a few customers, who previously rode on the TWA team, shared their story and desire to find a new team to ride with. Kaldi’s owners, who had been a small sponsor of the MS 150 in the past, embraced the idea and said “Let’s make it bigger.”
10 years later, Team Kaldi’s has 150 riders and has raised $1 million towards MS research – the first Missouri team to do so. There are two very remarkable things about this.

First, several large, corporate brands have teams in Missouri’s MS 150 (think Monsanto and Express Scripts). Yet it’s a small coffee company out of St. Louis that reached the $1 million mark first. Second, out of Team Kaldi’s 150 riders, only one is an employee. Yes, that means 149 of the 150 riders on the team are customers. Fully engaged, loyal customers.

I ride for this team. Why? Because I like what Kaldi’s stands for. Kaldi’s received media attention for its involvement, but ultimately, the company is heavily involved in the event because it matches its core values. It also benefits from having 100’s of cyclists riding around St. Louis with the Kaldi’s logo on their backs.

The leadership of Kaldi’s has fully embraced being a big part of this community. But did it in a way that supported others. They supply jerseys and help feed the riders. But really they are having a profound effect on the research aspect of MS and have many loyal customers.
So what difference can you make with your brand. Remember the checkbook is always appreciated when making a difference in the community. But what other changes can you make without it?

Article written by

partner/marketing strategist/climber of mountains