Will You Tell Your Clients What You Believe In?
In 2014, CVS removed tobacco products from its shelves because “the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with [their] purpose.” After the Parkland shooting, DICK’S Sporting Goods called for stricter gun laws and raised the minimum age for gun and ammunition buyers. Early this summer, the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, asked Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to leave. All three were met with a surplus of support and an overwhelming amount of criticism for what they believe in.
It’s safe to assume that most of you reading this aren’t a huge corporation. Most of you are small business owners and within that, solopreneurs. While the pros of sharing your stance are irresistible (yay for more clients), the cons can be frightening. With that being said, will you tell your clients what you believe in? Let’s talk about it.
To Post or Not To Post
Do your clients really need to know who you’re voting for? Or what’s your stance on the LGBTQA community? Hell, should you even share your proof that the Illuminati really does exists? It depends on who you ask.
According to a survey by Sprout Social, 66% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues, with 52% of consumers showing greater brand loyalty when they agree on an issue. What’s even more interesting is that consumers are more likely to find the stance credible if, “. . . the issue impacts their customers, employees, and business operations.”
The last point is what drives Susan Zwarycz, owner of Floating Fantasies Travel and Travel Planners International agent, in sharing her opinion on controversial topics.
“…There is a real challenge when the hot button issue becomes a part of my business. Issues such as [immigration] bleed into client inquiries on safety and concerns about how they might be accepted in a foreign country. It's difficult to not take a stand when it affects my bottom line,” she said.
While research may push business owners into the realm of sharing their beliefs, there’s a real life example that can make you recoil. Remember the restaurant Cut It Up in Tucson, Arizona? If you don’t, here’s the Spark Notes version of what happened. The owners of the restaurant posted a list of their beliefs (and what they don’t believe) on Facebook. They expected a few shares, likes, and comments but instead received national attention, public scrutiny, and plenty of threats. Despite taking down the post, the owners ended up closing their business because they couldn’t escape the negativity. Understandably, this is every business owner’s worst nightmare realized.
On a Facebook post asking TPI agents if, as business owners, they would share their personal beliefs to their clients, most of them said no.
“My mom always taught me, when it comes to business, you don’t discuss your personal views on religion or politics,” wrote Susan Zellea, owner of Travel with Sue-Z, Inc.
Dana Gribble, owner of A Suitcase Named Desire Travel Agency, also refrains from sharing her political beliefs as a business owner because, “I won’t change their mind and they won’t change mine.”
Follow Your Gut
Clearly, there’s no right or wrong answer. One could argue that true loyalty comes from a strong connection but for others, ignorance is bliss. Our opinion? Do what you think is right for your business. If you want to share your opinion as a business, we suggest keeping these three things in mind:
- Have a solid reason for sharing your belief. (Is your stance adding to the conversation or are you just ranting?)
- Be honest. (Tell your audience why you’re moved to make a comment.)
- Be prepared for backlash (Remember, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has them).
Or do whatever you’d like; it’s your business!