By Ben Weinrib, Managing Partner at Eddy Pump Corporation.
Community outreach can be vital to connecting your business to the local community. In doing so, you not only increase awareness for your products and services but also strengthen your branding efforts. By interacting with the local community, you get a chance to build and nurture a genuine connection with your consumers instead of simply marketing at them.
When planning community outreach initiatives, align your activities around your brand image and target markets. Look for relevant ideas and opportunities to spread your brand in ways aside from simply being a sponsor. For best results, try to develop a multichannel approach to community outreach. When planning this approach, it is important to think about all of the channels and audiences you want to market to. Think about how you can diversify your message across multiple channels to magnify your influence and exposure even more.
Working With Schools
Participating in school or educational programs can help you connect with community leaders, in addition to parents and teachers. We recently teamed up with local schools for the World of Work program, which aims to connect local companies to their communities by teaching students what it's like to operate a business. Programs like these help get your name in front of the community, spreading awareness about your products and services. You can also set up a scholarship fund for aspiring students in your business' field of work. Scholarships can boost your link-building efforts (by linking back to your website from .edu domains), improving your website's SEO.
Support Local Charity Events
There are many different types of local events to support, sponsor or even host. Contact city officials to get a good idea of upcoming events that might be perfect for your business to sponsor. Sponsoring charity events offers your brand a chance to get in front of a large number of people. Some great local events to look out for include fairs, farmers markets, sports and athletic events, church events, concerts and charity events.
A great way to brand your business is to create promotional products. Promotional products can consist of a variety of things ranging from pens, flash drives, clothing items and many more. Branding products that people use every day give you additional opportunities to get your brand name out and gain some recognition. Recognizable branding is important because someone may not need your services now, but if your message is consistently out there, they'll remember and call you when they do need you. As more and more people are familiar and have used your brand, you have the opportunity to create brand ambassadors -- people who love what you do and are willing to spread the word to everyone they know. Remember that potential customers respond better when hearing about your brand from a third party rather than from your marketing to them.
Internship or Mentorship Programs
With internship opportunities, businesses have a chance to recruit fresh faces to be a part of their companies. These students learn hands-on how the business is run and gain valuable experience along the way. This opportunity offers the chance to get your business name in front of a younger generation who may be interested in starting a career in your field. When a student has a great experience as an intern, they can become No. 1 evangelists for your business.
Connecting With Local Media and Social Influencers
Providing information or content to local bloggers, journalists and other influencers can help spread recognition even further. By leveraging their followers and viewers, you can ensure more eyeballs are on your brand when they begin talking about you. The key is to get in front of them and give them a story worth writing about. Taking advantage of community efforts your business is already engaged in can dramatically help getting noticed by local influencers who are usually hungry for fresh and engaging content.
As you can see, leveraging community events is a great way to promote your brand to people who otherwise would not have heard about you. When combined with traditional marketing strategies, you can open the door to new leads, sales and people who love your brand. Keeping community outreach as an ongoing process will ensure that you are continually fostering new relationships and awareness for your business.
Ben Weinrib is Managing Partner at Eddy Pump Corporation and Founder at Colergo.