Five Ways Your Business Can Carve Out A Role In The Community
In the middle of the 19th century, the United States Supreme Court declared that a corporation is “capable of being treated as a citizen of [the State which created it], as much as a natural person,” effectively giving companies the same constitutional protections enjoyed by American citizens. Putting the controversy aside for a moment (and yes, this was highly contentious considering subsequent rulings by the same court), the landmark decision did bring up an interesting point. We all know that our brands have personalities, their own tones of voice. So why not think of our brands as people? And as people, is it not natural that we play a role in our own communities?
The good news is, the fact that you set up a business already has positive impacts on your community. Ramifications are felt everywhere down the line– you need to buy supplies, hire employees, those employees need to eat, and so forth. And if your business model is anything like my company, mrUsta, an online marketplace for professional service providers, then you also help create value for other businesses by driving customers towards them. So that’s a positive start.
But moving on from the heart of your business, there’s a lot more you can do. Your brand is human, and just like any person, you live off the engagement and interaction with other humans within your community. Not necessarily to make sales per say, but to add value to yourself as a brand and to others. You have your own community to thank for your successes and growth. When you give back to them, consider your role as a mentor and as a teacher. You want your business (just as you would like as a person) to be the agents for positive change within your community. So, what steps should you take as a business to carve out a role in your own community? Here are five pointers you should consider:
1. Define your community
Narrow down what you consider as your community. Although there are advantages to talking to a larger audience, you may find that your message and your role gets dissipated as your target gets larger and more diverse. As your target gets more defined and homogeneous, you’ll find it much more manageable to establish yourself within that community. “Target small, impact big” should be the mantra you live by.
2. Capitalize on your particular strengths
mrUsta, by our very nature, is a community-building platform. Whether it be a community of Ustas (service providers) or a community of customers, our strength lies in connecting the right people (and services) to each other. That’s why we, outside our core business, focus on using this skillset when we reach out to the community at large.
3. Get everyone involved
Don’t forget to engage with your own direct community –your staff and employees– when planning your next activities. Remember that your own employees are your most important asset, and therefore, the most impactful in defining your community role, and engaging with that community once your actions have been decided. Not only does this give a sense of comradery and ownership, but it also allows you to carry out your activities with a single, strong, unified message.
4. Get out and talk to people
Do you truly understand the need of your community? At mrUsta, we’ve basically made it a rule that each of us should know something personal about our customers and Ustas that is not related to our business. The more you listen, the more you have a grasp of your community and their needs. And if there is something within your expertise that allows you to jump in and fill that gap, then it’s your time to take advantage of that opportunity.
5. Remember to not gloat
Of course, anything you do for your community is newsworthy. However, let the story speak for itself. Your most powerful messengers are the members of the community itself– let wordof- mouth take over. The people within your community are your best storytellers– so, let them do the talking. Word of mouth is infinitely the most effective and impactful type of messaging there is. If you want to talk about it yourself, be aware of your tone of voice as not to sound like you’re bragging or boasting about something you should be doing in the first place.
In Devotions, a work created by author John Donne in 1624, a memorable line of prose is uttered: “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Donne considers that we can only be at our best when we work in tandem with others, as we are part of a greater whole –a community, as one may say– as this is the very nature of who we are. With your brand, don’t be an island. There should be no waters that isolate you from the rest– only bridges. Your community makes you who you are, and until you realize and establish your role within that very community, you doom yourself to seclusion as a business, and more crucially, as a brand.