2020 was not at all a nice – or amusing – year for many U.S. small businesses.
In a year where a pandemic caused the deaths of more than 300,000 people, devastated the jobs of more than 12 million people, and ruined countless restaurants and other small businesses in fitness, arts, travel and retail. A Christmas tree made of whiskey bottles is not always a marketing campaign. That small business is Four Seasons Total Landscaping, of all places, in my hometown of Philadelphia. Four Seasons Total Landscaping became a worldwide story when President Trump’s campaign announced a surprise press conference in their parking lot on State Road in the northeast part of the city on the day election results for Pennsylvania and other states were released. The announcement left both supporters and opponents puzzled. The press conference was a convoluted, rambling affair, like so many others in this administration. Nobody knew whether the Four Seasons Hotel near Broad Street was originally planned or just a mix-up. No one could find out whether Trump was really aware of what was going on.
It occurred anyway.
And that whole thing was so funny. It was amusing because of the imagery: Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, battling for his boss’ political life, surrounded by other State Road-typical small businesses – a sex store and a crematorium – and, of course, prominently behind him with the Four Seasons Complete Landscaping sign.
Since it was ridiculous and shocking and interesting, it was humorous.
It was funny because there was no one who admitted this was a mistake. Has it been? It was funny because the incident happened in a city where Trump had recently warned that “bad things happen.” But because of Marie Siravo, owner of Four Seasons Complete Landscaping, the real reason this story was funny was.
The response of her and her team to what occurred was not biased.
It was a perfectly American business acumen lesson.
The humor was seen by Siravo.
In order to stay out of politics, she did her best and took double advantage of the unprecedented exposure gained by her small company.
Siravo redesigned her website immediately.
She posted a politically cunning Facebook message that would be proud of any experienced PR professional.
She sold tongue-in-cheek T-shirts that read “Make America Rake Again” and “Lawn and Order” and on other promotional pieces she coined phrases like “in sod we trust”
She participated in the “Fraud Street Run,” which was quickly organized, attracting 2,100 participants and starting from her parking lot.
She was welcoming the crowds and the people who stop by for a quick shot of political history to this day. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “We don’t make political statements,” “We’re going and loving it with it.
“It is like a magic carpet ride. “The concept of the average American small business is characterized by Four Seasons Total Landscaping. The media wants to glorify the tech-savvy, venture capital-backed entrepreneurs who in Silicon Valley and Austin are starting the next big thing.
But in this world, 30 million small businesses exist.
Most are family owned and run, including Siravo’s. Usually, they provide an unsexy yet needed service… Such as landscaping.
Similar to Siravo, they usually hire less than 30 full-time workers and are typically based in their hometowns on State Roads. These organizations are familiar to you. These are not companies that will be discussed by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and James Corden. Or the BBC to be profiled. Or appeared on Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show. Or in the Guardian, written about here. But this company did.
And that’s also funny. So Siravo – like so many smart entrepreneurs navigating the changing dynamics of 2020 – rethought.
She converted her conference room into a fulfillment center, not for landscaping jobs, but to assemble and sell more than 35,000 T-shirts, sweaters and face masks that brought in more than $1.3 million in sales to customers like Jake Tapper, Mike Myers and Emma Watson.
She appeared on television and other media because, as a savvy small business owner, she didn’t want to miss out on a good PR opportunity. “You know, a lot of businesses don’t do snow, don’t do irrigation, don’t do planning,” she reminded in a