For Christmas I got a pair of TOMS shoes. If you aren't familiar with TOMS, one of their advertising points is that, with every purchase, the company will donate a pair of shoes to someone in need. It's a valiant endeavor, one that so far has resulted in over 10,000 pairs of shoes.
Here's the thing about TOMS - they're quality shoes. I actually have two pairs, one that slides on and one laced pair. I couldn't be happier with either. But they can be pretty pricey, depending on your definition of pricey, upwards of $50, with some pairs even hitting a triple-digit price tag. So how do you decide what to spend your hard-earned cash on? Like I said, they're quality products, but there are a lot of quality products out there, so why TOMS?
That's where the charitable aspect of TOMS comes in. When you buy a pair of TOMS, you aren't just buying yourself a pair of shoes - you're buying someone else a pair of shoes, too. You get shoes that you want, someone gets shoes that they need, and you get to feel good about yourself.
It's definitely a selling point. Don't be fooled, TOMS is a for-profit company. They aren't merely doing this out of the kindness of their corporate hearts...and that's not a bad thing. There are some cases where the ends justify the means, and if someone can turn a profit while helping those in need, why not?
There's a lot of competition out there. When we talk about Kickstarter projects, one of the main differentiating factors is connecting with prospective customers, giving them a unique experience either through the product/service itself or with its creator/founder, but that isn't the only angle to play. As TOMS has shown, helping others could be what separates you from others.