If there’s one thing Americans do very well it’s consume. We like shopping. We like going to the mall or Target and coming home with whatever our hearts desire, regardless of where it was made. Although this kind of buying behavior can be damaging to our economy and our country, changing this behavior is easier said than done.
In the last year and a half of actively living and advocating a buy American lifestyle, I have learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do, in persuading those around me, like friends and family, to buy American. Here are a few key tips:
1) Never make others feel guilty about their current buying habits. Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else, the key is to talk about the reasons you buy American with no judgment on others who currently don’t. Others will be much more receptive to the concept of buying American when using this approach.
2) Be as committed as possible to buying American yourself. When those around you see that you are genuinely committed to buying American they will begin to take the idea more seriously. Few will be moved to consider a commitment to buying American if they think your commitment to buying American is a passing fad. It’s got to be perceived as permanent to have an impact on those around you.
3) Blog, tweet, or make Facebook posts about buy American topics. Social media are great tools to put out useful information about the topic of buying American. These messages can reinforce other messages your friends and family are already hearing about buying American. It is also a no-judgment way to talk about the personal and societal benefits of buying American. The buy American movement depends on effective communication, and new media, like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, are the key to effective communication today and for the foreseeable future. Embrace these tools.
4) Let others bring up the topic of buying American with you. When I first started strictly buying American and blogging about it, I told all my friends and family about what I was doing. I asked them to follow my blog, follow my tweets, become a Facebook fan of Buy American Challenge, and that sort of thing. After that, I backed off on bringing the topic of buying American up for discussion. I found that friends and family started asking me about buying American instead of me having to bring it up with them. If you want buying American to spread, my advice is let people know why you are buying American initially, then back off. However, continue to keep the topic visible if you can. I drive an American car, wear Made in USA clothing, and blog about buying American regularly. Those who want to talk about buying American know they can bring it up with me anytime, and they frequently do.
5) Be a resource for those who have questions about buying American. When folks first start to think about buying American, they have lots of questions. Where can they find American-made products they need? What about products not found made in USA anymore? What about imported products they just can’t even think about giving up? A good place to start in addressing these concerns is to give people the guidelines of the Buy American Challenge. This is an easy-to-follow buy American program that anyone can follow. I suggest printing out a copy and giving it to people who are showing interest as a suggestion of where to start if they decide to give buying American a try. Additionally, offer to be available for advice on hard-to-find items. If you ever get stumped, and can’t find a particular item made in USA, contact me and I’ll help you out. Believe it or not, almost all products can still be found made in USA, you just need to know where and how to look for them.
Follow these five tips and you will be well on your way to spreading buy American through your social network. Remember, for buying American to have a really meaningful impact on job creation in this country, we need to grow the movement. One person’s decision to buy American, though admirable for the principle of it, doesn’t mean much in terms of job creation. It’s not going to create millions of jobs like we want it to. But when thousands or even millions of people start demanding American-made products it will have a major impact on job creation.
If you are committed to buying American yourself, commit to doing what you can to grow the movement as well.
Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.