Deluxe Corporation’s half million dollar revitalization prize package, known as The Small Business Revolution — Main Street will be awarded to the town of Searcy, Arkansas. The announcement was made on February 26, 2019.
Two weeks prior in New York City, Small Business Trends chatted again with Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Deluxe, and Ty Pennington, reality TV carpenter and co-host of the show, to discuss the real-world success of the towns who won the show’s previous seasons, as well as what happens to finalist towns that don’t win — how do those towns cope with the disappointment of “almost getting” a $500,000 investment? Brinkman also touches on what big brands can do to bond with small businesses beyond merely selling to them. Our video with Brinkman and Pennington and the transcript are below.
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Small Business Trends: Can you remind us how finalist towns are selected for the show?
Amanda Brinkman: Each season we ask people to nominate their favorite small town and we narrow it down to the top 20, then we narrow it down to the top 10. We go and visit those 10 communities boots on the ground. Then we narrow those down to a final set which will be put up for public vote. This year we had six finalists.
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When you visit SmallBusinessRevolution.org you can watch past seasons and see how great Ty Pennington was in season 3.
Small Business Trends: Ty, this is your second time as the series’ co-host. What are some factors in it that viewers might find compelling?
Ty Pennington: We’re all trying to be successful. Sometimes it’s not the fact that we don’t work hard enough, it’s that we haven’t met the right people or not had the right opportunities to find those keys that we need to open the doors to success. This is a show that’s like a rescue ambulance that pulls into your town and has the means and the goods that sometimes these business didn’t realize existed. It’s not Deluxe throwing money at a town, it really is people with heart that are part of Amanda’s team who go in and roll up their sleeves. You really get to know them and see the pride.
It’s awesome to see the celebration at the end and to realize the success we had but it’s also really nice to know we’re shining a light on how original and unique and sometimes how very different these towns are across America. It’s a great show that gives people hope, and that’s why the towns go nuts like on the videos because they realize there’s so much good coming to that town.
— Small Biz Revolution (@smbizrevolution) February 27, 2019
Small Business Trends: Amanda, what makes Deluxe different? How about a summary of Deluxe, for business owners who are unfamiliar with the brand.
Amanda Brinkman: Deluxe has been honored to serve small businesses for over 100 years. Our legacy is in the check-printing space and we help small businesses operate their business. But now we help them with everything they need to market their business, whether it’s to build their website or design a logo, packaging, email marketing, anything they need to grow their business through marketing.
So a few years ago we decided that instead of doing an ad campaign talking about those services, let’s put our money where our mouth is and do something great for the small business community. What’s a better way to reach the small businesses of this country than just advertising at them? Let’s go out and help them. Let’s create a movement to get more people to support them.
So we’re very proud of this work and what it’s doing for small businesses across the country. And I wish more big brands and big companies would think about what they could be doing to truly make a difference in their customers’ lives beyond selling them things.
Small Business Trends: Amanda, you’ve witnessed a lot of success stories over the years. What are some of your favorites?
Amanda Brinkman: It’s hard to pick a favorite out of the 18 incredible businesses we’ve worked with but it’s been fun to see how some of the businesses have taken the inspiration and resources we give them and pass them along to others alongside them.
Wabash, Indiana from season 1 is a great example of where they’ve had multiple businesses come to town and open their business there because they saw the show, and they fell in love with Wabash through the show.
Ty Pennington: I can see that. I almost moved to Alton [Illinois]! Literally, I was like, “I may.”
Amanda Brinkman: Bristol Borough [Pennsylvania] from season 2 had a nearly 50 percent business vacancy but now they’re down to just two empty storefronts.
Ty Pennington: Wow…
Amanda Brinkman: So it’s more than a show, it’s really about this contagious energy that sweeps throughout the entire community.
Small Business Trends: Let’s talk about the towns who are finalists but don’t get the prize. What do they say?
Amanda Brinkman: I think the real secret to this entire process is to first understand that all 10 of the communities we visited came together in a truly remarkable way, that for many of them it was the first time in history that the entire community came together with that kind of enthusiasm and cohesiveness. And that’s the real prize.
It helps that there’s a contest that you’re aiming towards in order to have that energy and momentum but really the communities did it themselves. They banded together, they figured out how to communicate, energize and mobilize the community.
And the ones who understand “How do we use this momentum? How do we harness this energy that we feel through this contest well into the future?” — those are the towns that will truly get the ultimate prize out of this entire thing. And that’s why we do the 10-city tour so that as many communities as possible can feel that energy and momentum for themselves first hand, and then figure out how to use it.
At the end of the day, it’s a contest and only one town receives the half-million dollar investment but again the real secret is: You don’t need the show to come to your town for you to truly have a revolution within your community.
This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.