Does your marketing plan include a community involvement strategy? It should. According to one study, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding where to buy their products and services.
The benefits of community involvement reach beyond attracting customers: Forbes magazine reports that millennials, the largest demographic currently in the workforce, “want to volunteer together and feel connected through a shared passion for their company’s cause work, ideally through initiatives that help their surrounding community.”
What does that mean to your business? Community involvement benefits your bottom line in more ways than one. However, getting involved in your local community doesn’t mean you have to sink thousands of dollars. Many organizations welcome small business involvement and make the investment affordable and practical. Here are five ways to use your printed materials to increase your visibility in the St. Louis community.
The term “sponsorship” usually conjures up ideas of investing a lot of money. That might be the case if you are sponsoring a professional sports team, but there are a lot of smaller sponsorship opportunities that will get your brand in front of your target audience.
For example, if your products and services target young families, approach a St. Louis school about sponsoring an event. Track-and-field day is a great opportunity to display a professionally printed banner, for instance.
And many schools are open to the idea of product donations in lieu of sponsorships. Include coupons for your services at sporting events or give a more professional appearance with loyalty cards. Even a simple notepad bearing your logo is a practical item that people are likely to use and display on their desk.
Print large car magnets for additional visibility at events and while you are just driving around town. Consider school involvement again, for example. If you provide a service or a branded product at a local school event, use the opportunity to park your branded vehicle at the event. Parents and others in the community are generally impressed by a business owner’s willingness to volunteer his time and product.
Think about the long-term ROI. Community involvement or volunteering not only allows you to give back to your neighbors, but it also gives you increased visibility. Start thinking with a wider view and looking for ways to use your vehicle to not only reach potential customers, but also to make an impression by being strategically located at a community event.
Gift cards are a great visibility tool. They are not just for walk-in customers who want to buy something for a friend. Use your professionally printed gift card at local events. Event hosts are always eager to receive donated gifts that their attendees will find valuable. You will often find that by donating gift cards, the event host may also allow you to put out brochures or a banner at the event.
Schools and large businesses are great options for offering your gift cards. Consider donating a gift card. Ensure your brand and messaging are designed to match your other marketing materials. An official card adds value and professionalism. Give your brand visibility, not only to the person that wins, but to all passing by that see your card and recognize your involvement in the community event.
Show your love for your community by providing a discount for specific groups. You could even rotate the discount throughout the year. Students, military, police, firefighters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, or city employees are all hard-working members of the community who deserve recognition.
One good way to show appreciation is to hold a special day, week or month that these groups receive a certain percentage off. Align the discount with holidays like Memorial Day or Mother’s Day. Hand out professionally printed loyalty cards for those special patrons in your discount categories whom you’d like to honor. Visit the local fire station or other community hub to give those loyalty cards out. Alternatively, you may consider advertising the discount and offering loyalty cards to the customers who come in to take advantage of the discount. This approach gets more customers through your doors while reinforcing your brand and emphasizing your love of the community.
Community involvement doesn’t mean donating a huge sum of money. Think about incorporating simple gestures, instead. Print professional postcards to send to your clients on their birthdays, during the holidays, or to celebrate their work anniversaries. Offer your appreciation for their business and consider giving them a discount on their next order.
Get your brand in front of more potential clients while you show love for your community. At the same time, you’ll build loyalty and gain visibility by increasing your community involvement. Whether you are a big business or one of St. Louis’ many small businesses, community involvement is worth the investment.
Think carefully about what you can afford and the potential return on the investment you make. You may not be able to give as much as top philanthropists like Mark Zuckerberg or Charles Johnson, but that’s likely not what your customers expect. Strategically aligning your marketing plan with your community involvement engagements can help you do great things while making your business more visible.