If I say the word “Amish” to you, what are the images that come to mind?
Perhaps your mind goes to thoughts of horse-drawn carriages, a close-knit community that stays within itself, or no use of modern comforts like electricity or photography. Maybe you think of the clothes Amish people wear or the long hours that they spend working.
Whatever comes to mind, have you ever thought of the Amish as geniuses at marketing? That’s a thought that crosses my mind when I think about the Amish. As you know, the Amish make it a point to stay in their community, and they steer away from so many aspects of modern life. The Amish have also created a reason for those of us who are not Amish to buy their products or visit their communities.
I am a big believer in marketing and think it’s an essential part of business success, and the Amish have lessons to teach the broader business community.
Even if the Amish wouldn’t say it themselves, there is a specific brand that buying something Amish represents. The Amish are famous for their dedication to extraordinary amounts of work, as much as 80-hour work-weeks. This commitment to work allows them to be great craftspeople. When you buy an Amish product, you know that it wasn’t created in a factory with the use of technology. Amish products are typically done by craftsmen and women who use their hands and tools to make products as they were done a century ago.
Since their products are done by craftsmen who spend the time, the products are well-made. Therefore, when you buy products made by the Amish, you know that the brand promise is one of quality. Even though we live in a world that is light years from how the Amish live, they have remained true to their “brand.” Many communities do not use electricity or electronic and technological tools. They create their products in the same fashion that was always done, and it’s a lesson for entrepreneurs to remain faithful to their values and brand promise.
Doubling Down on their Niche
The Amish understand that the world beyond their communities is strikingly different than what they represent. Every once in a while, you might come across news articles about individuals who decided to leave the community because they want to live in the modern world. However, generally speaking, although some leave the communities and there is probably pressure within the community to “evolve” and advance into the modern world, the Amish also recognize that to maintain their way of life, and their distinction, they have to retain as much of their customs and practices.
In other words, whatever the pressure that Amish communities may feel to modernize and integrate into broader communities beyond the Amish, most Amish groups instead double down. They are true to their values, what they represent and how they want to be viewed by the external world. They understand that they have a particular way of life and most Amish communities choose to double down and stay with their customs as they have been and not what is expected of them. Think about that the next time you have investors or advisors tell you should dilute your product line or the services you offer. Stay true to what you offer and stay in your lane.
Keep Working What Works for the Long-Term
Finally, the Amish have an understanding that their values and beliefs go beyond whatever is the newest trend. Were you aware that Amish farmers tend to have better crops than non-Amish farmers over the long term? How does that happen? The Amish don’t use chemicals, and they grow different types of crops on their lands keeping the soil working and profitable. They think long-term strategy and not short-term gain. They understand they want to keep their land productive for generations and they won’t do anything to harm that idea.
Sometimes entrepreneurs want to chase the next trend or idea, especially in the beginning when they are trying to get their business off the ground. However, the Amish don’t look at the next idea or supposed promise that will make them money. They know what works to keep their land profitable through generations, and they keep working it. If you have a winning idea and you know that there’s a market for it, keep your mind focused on the long-term and not on the short-term.
Next time you buy a product or service from the Amish, or you visit an Amish community, think of them as expert marketers and remember some of their lessons as you think about your own company.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact”(Free Digital Download)
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