Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to watch Blake Mycoskie, TOMS’s 35 year-old CEO and Founder, present at SXSW. It was quite moving. If you’re not familiar with TOMS, here is a video.

Essentially, TOMS brand philosophy is one for one. If you buy a pair of shoes [or glasses], TOMS will give a pair of shoes [or glasses] to someone in need. It’s a form of social entrepreneurship.

toms shoes

Over the course of four years, he has given away 1 million pairs of shoes, which equivalently means a lot of sales. I know that we’re not selling shoes and our business models are quite different, but there is something to learn from this.

Chan’s Rule #2 For Trust

People buy from those whom they trust and like. So, let’s talk trust. The very first thing you cannot do is sell directly to someone else. There is too high of an ulterior motive, which results in people raising suspicion … ergo, no trust.

However, it is possible if it’s tied to a selfless cause. I gave an example here with how a girl scout could outsell you when it comes to cookies.

But it’s not that simple. Tying in with a selfless cause won’t automatically bring in business. It does automatically soften any sales pitch.

The factor that makes TOMS so much more appealing than other other charities is very simple. Any guesses? Brand recognition. And I’m not inferring to oh it’s a widely known brand.

Think of it this way. If I donated to Susan G. Komen, will anybody know? Unless I tell you, no one will. Sure … I get it, charity is all about selfless giving without recognition. But we are humans; we like acknowledgement.

The King of Queens Season 04 Episode 22 made a parody of donations.

king of queens s04e22

It’s the same as wearing Armstrong’s yellow band. People may not say anything, but will know that you “fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.”


Wearing TOMS shoes, TOMS glasses or a live strong band is a public statement about your support. So, now the question is how to publicize your cause granted that you want to go this route. Let’s use Susan G. Komen as an example. Here are some ideas:

  1. Write about why you support this cause.
    This gives purpose for your intent.
  2. Include a Susan G. Komen pink ribbon on your website.
    This offers awareness for anyone who visits your site from your own social media efforts or referrals by clients.
  3. Give every client a large canvas print with a small pink ribbon on the corner near where you sign your name.
    A canvas is something everyone will hang up. A pink ribbon on a canvas is peculiar. So if friends of this client ask about it, he/she will have a chance to talk you up and the cause you support.

There are many ways to execute the tactics. The main thing is to raise public awareness because people enjoy the limelight.

And like what Chris Brogan wrote, “Please Don’t Retweet,” you can promote your heart out for selfless causes.

What’s Next?

Hope you enjoyed Rule #2! I have six rules for trust and I share it extensively in my book Social Media Marketing for Digital Photographers available in bookstores later this month. Exciting!

Anyway, if you found this post an insightful read, please share with friends via social media buttons. I appreciate it very much.

Yours truly,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. Is there a cause you support? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please comment the name and why.

P.P.S. Here’s a photo of me trudging through a creek in Fraser Island to take a photo. Nothing stops me … leeches can suck it (literally). Ha. Ha.

working in creek