One of the advantages small businesses have over larger corporations is their connection to the surrounding community. In marketing especially, a small business’ greatest asset is its intimate knowledge of the local community in which it thrives. We think community outreach is a particularly great small business marketing idea because your local audience will overwhelming appreciate your efforts, and you will be able to craft the perfect outreach program based upon your knowledge of your local audience.
Leverage this asset by forming valuable relationships with the other organizations in your community. This win-win relationship makes you more connected to the local residents, increases the visibility of your business, and also improves your community at large at the same time. Your employees (and yourself) will also feel happier after being apart of a philanthropic project.
Become a Sponsor
A great way to stay connected to your community is to become a sponsor. Look for opportunities with children’s, youth, or adult sports leagues; art, theater, or music programs; or scholarships for summer camp or colleges. In exchange for your monetary support, you’ll receive well-deserved publicity and appreciation from those involved.
In addition to increasing your visibility (your logo could be on the back of the jerseys for a town softball team, for example), sponsorships show that you care about the wellbeing of the area where your business operates. These types of programs always need support, and they foster a stronger sense of community and enrich the local culture. Using your dollars to back a program you personally appreciate proves your business’ commitment to the community and will win you lifelong fans who appreciate your contributions.
Host an Event
Enrich the town by putting together a fun event. Let your imagination run wild, and consider involving another business or two to co-sponsor the event. That way they can share the workload – and the rewards!
If you are B2B, host a mixer for local businesses through the Chamber of Commerce. Who said small business marketing can’t be fun? If residents in your town have been trapped inside for months due to a particularly snowy winter, rent a gymnasium with some fun equipment and hold a Cabin Fever Party. This is where your connection to the community is your greatest asset: as a business owner there, you are uniquely situated to provide something people will truly appreciate.
If you can, give away a teaser for your product or service as part of a gift bag. Don’t forget to send out a press release inviting the public and letting everyone know about the enrichment you’re providing for the community. In addition to gaining the marketing exposure, you proclaiming your activity will likely encourage other businesses to give charitably – everybody wins!
Partner with a Nonprofit
Nonprofits, both locally-based and local branches of national organizations, often use business partnerships to sustain their day-to-day operations and fundraising efforts. Keep an eye out for upcoming banquets, galas, and other fundraising events and offer to donate goods or services for silent auctions. It’s quite efficient, budget wise, for your small business marketing efforts to be combined with other, pre-planned, marketing events.
Reach out to a local organization you admire to ask how you can help. You could donate a portion of proceeds for a specific period of time or offer your customers the opportunity to donate to the cause when you’re ringing up their sale.
Nonprofit organizations’ assets usually lie in their resources: email lists, mailing lists, and influential donors. Any one of these ideas merits an announcement to their followers (and to the press) and will win you loyalty points in the eyes of the people who love that cause.
Saturday Morning Volunteering
The idea easiest one to do, and costs nothing more than a few trash bags. Simply don your company shirts and get the office together for some basic Saturday morning cleaning. Pick up trash at your local park or beach, or just up and down Main Street. You don’t need to make flyers or a sign, word will spread naturally!