Small business marketing is tough -- especially on a shoestring budget -- so developing a community outreach program is an excellent way to gain local traction and up visibility without a huge investment. Here are three low-cost community outreach strategies that add real value to your marketing campaign and give you more bang for your buck.
1. Donate to Schools
Approach schools in the area and offer them something their funding typically won’t cover, like discounted services for faculty and personnel or classroom donations. It’s a win-win for them, so they’ll rarely decline the offer. What’s in it for you? Schools encompass the entire community; students connect you to families and families connect you to neighborhoods. At the local level, this is even more effective than social media marketing.
Students are also a great mouthpiece for your brand. They talk and share more widely than most other groups, and your reach is truly limitless if you maintain a long-term relationship with a school -- few other places have new faces cycling in every year. In other words, you can set into motion a chain of brand promotion events with one initial donation, potentially becoming a household name just from the exposure.
2. Partner with NGOs
Just like schools, NGOs are often short on funding and open to mutually beneficial partnerships. By offering them products or services in exchange for positive publicity, you’ll build a respected brand image and foster highly profitable relationships. Host a fundraising event for an NGO and you could get your brand’s name on their staff’s shirts and caps, your logo on their marketing materials, etc.
NGOs have high contact rates with the general public. They go place to place, person to person, focusing on attracting interest for their cause, so even volunteering at their events will increase your visibility. The more the public associates your brand with a worthy cause, the more your reputation will flourish. Plus, it’s incredibly gratifying as a business owner to help an organization make a difference, particularly if you’re passionate about their work.
3. Build SMB Bonds
There’s major power in numbers. Pool your efforts with other local businesses to put on a free event for the public where you can promote your brand and get face time with the community -- just focus less on product-pushing and more on making it a good time for all. On-site marketing events like grand openings or anniversary parties will rarely gain you new business, but free public events sponsored by multiple companies expose you to different crowds and center around the community. This a more genuine experience for attendees, fostering natural brand association.
When small businesses collaborate, everyone benefits. On a daily basis, you can boost each other’s brands and gain referrals from businesses with clientele who trust and respect their recommendations. That’s a powerful thing in a community. You’ll garner far more revenue by teaming up than you will in your lone efforts, establishing personal and professional relationships that outlast your marketing campaigns.