People like to buy from friends.
That's a fact. I'm not talking about virtual friends either. I'm referring to real professional relationships with people where you work and live.
But how do you "make friends"? By getting involved. The more involved you are, the more people you'll know and the more who will know you and want to do business with you, their "friend."
Involvement in the community takes many forms--joining the local Chamber, sponsoring a Little League or bowling team, or getting "locked up" for a cause. Whatever your involvement, make a good impression. It is not advisable, however, to get involved simply for the business contacts. This could backfire and give you the reputation of being unreliable or indifferent to the community.
Sincere community involvement can lead to opportunities to market your business, and these marketing gems are limited only by your search. Here are just a few ideas:
- ASSIST LOCAL CHARITIES--Get involved in some type of cause marketing by helping a local charity. You may want to offer your products or services for free as part of a fund raising effort, underwrite a portion of or sponsor an event, or offer your mailing list. Time and talent are needed by non-profits as much as money. Get your employees involved, too. Walk or run in a benefit, help run a booth at a local school fair, paint the senior center--always wearing your company logo on t-shirts, caps or jackets.
- ORGANIZE EVENTS--Plan special fund raising events--10K races, essay contests, art shows. Give away something with your name on it to participants. Your leadership and organizational skills are treasures to non-profit organizations.
- DONATE TO THE COMMUNITY-- Give your product or service for use in a public place or park where the community benefits. Or donate your time to help enhance a public area.
- OFFER CORPORATE DISCOUNTS--Give employee discounts to large companies in the area.
- USE LOCAL REAL AND VIRTUAL BULLETIN BOARDS--Put your signs in supermarkets, restaurants, churches, clubs, and post on local social media sites. Have a Facebook page.
- MAKE SPECIAL OFFERS -- E-mail, mail and post special offerings to community clubs, churches, and schools, organizations.
- DEVELOP PROMOTIONS WITH LOCAL SCHOOLS. Demonstrate your product or service to a class. Talk at career days. Sponsor a school activity. Give special student discounts to students and teachers.
- ESTABLISH TIE-INS--Exchange brochures, posters, flyers, etc. with the other businesses and community organizations. Offer to put up their poster is they'll promote yours, circulate their flyer if they'll do the same.
- SUPPORT LOCAL MEDIA--Position your business as "local" in area newspapers, magazines, radio and tv, and emphasize this "local-ness" in your marketing.
- SEEK OUT CAUSES--Actively look for ways you can serve your community.
Remember, your community needs your support in any way you or your employees can help.