For small and large businesses alike, it is important to build trust with the community in which you live and work. Your company’s public persona, be it online or through other means, is one of the main reasons potential customers will seek you out. They must see you as not just another company trying to sell something, but a resource of information and expertise. One way to do this is to get involved in community events, charities and other groups that you feel are important or connected to your business in some way.
For example, many hospitals sponsor events like March for Babies through the March of Dimes. They donate to the cause, inspire their employees to get involved and thereby raise community awareness of their services. It shows that they have a special interest in the lives of babies and are willing to support scientific research to further this important cause. In return, they have their names and logos recognized in print material, online and in a variety of different ways. Participants and even those who do not participate but are invited to the event will recognize them as an integral part of the local community and not just some monster corporate company looking to make money.
Your company must have a personality of its own. And getting involved in your local community is imperative to growing that personality and showing a vested interested in its continued growth and well being. Of course, most small businesses do not have the big budgets like the hospitals mentioned above, but that does not mean you cannot get involved in other ways.
Many charities look for volunteers to help with events or fundraising. Your company may be able to provide volunteers or a service that can be traded for sponsorship recognition. Perhaps you print t-shirts, approach local charities that you want to support and ask them about trading for sponsorship recognition. You’ll be surprised at how eager these groups are to work with you.
Many communities have large scale events that bring in thousands of visitors and locals. It may not be for a special cause, but your presence can be a powerful tool in gaining local recognition. Not only will the event organizers recognize you, but the attendees will get to know your business as well. Again, you may have to invest some sponsorship money, rent a booth, or trade in some way; but your presence, shaking hands, kissing babies like the politicians of yesteryear will have a larger and more lasting impact than a simple ad placement. When real people connect with your business on a human level that makes a much more lasting impression and will make them view you as a resource and not just out to make a dime. Just think, when you don’t know how or what to do, who do you ask? Most people would say their friends and family. Make your company a part of that trusted circle and they will become your customers.
The same goes for networking events in your community. Your local Chamber is always a good place to start or perhaps you’re a web designer, retail store or some other type of business. There are usually groups that are working together to further the needs of like minded businesses and can be a valuable resource for you to learn from, but can also generate leads for new business. If there isn’t a group that meets your particular needs, set one up! This will automatically set you apart from the competition as an expert in your field.
The most important thing in promoting your business is to make it personal. Your customers are people- not a prospect, not a piece of business, not a client, but a real live breathing person just like you! They want to feel that they can trust you, the services or products you provide and that in turn you also trust and support them.