One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of a sound marketing plan is community relations. While it can be difficult to see immediate, easily-measureable results from your efforts, investing in relationships with the people in your area creates strong ties to your community. Building and sustaining strong ties equals more people who know you, respect you, and vouch for you. This turns into more potential customers that you reach. Even a business with a shoe-string budget can find ways to grow their brand through community relations.
Here are 4 ideas you can use to fertilize your community roots:
1. Volunteer your time where members of your target audience frequent. While any kind of volunteering is helpful to your community, giving your time to efforts that your intended customers care about increases their loyalty and trust in you. Do a little research on your customers. Let’s say you wish to increase the amount of women who shop at your store – why not try passing out water cups at a local running event? (According to RunningUSA.org, 61% of half-marathoners in 2013 were female!)
2. Donate a product or service to be auctioned off at a local fundraising event. Whether it’s to support the local animal shelter or to help a family in need, by donating you show heart and the desire to be involved and help your community prosper.
3. Sponsor a local contest. Think about the message you want your brand to have, and find an event you can sponsor that will reach members of your target audience. If you’re in a market geared towards computers or robotics, a design contest with the goal of sending an area child (or children) to a science education camp is a wonderful way to increase awareness and interest in your business, while making a meaningful contribution to the local community.
4. Participate in a local event, like a softball tournament, with an employee team and pledge to donate any winnings or donations to a local charity. Team t-shirts advertise your brand to other participants and spectators, and your business can enjoy the side-effects of increased employee morale, which includes increased productivity, higher sales, higher engagement, and better performance. (Source: good.co)
By making a commitment to be a part of your community, you attract (and retain) better employees, create quality content for social media marketing and press releases, network and build potential partnerships with other businesses and organizations, increase positive awareness of your brand, and make yourself memorable to your customers.