Social media platforms and local advertising go a long way toward increasing name recognition in your community, but results are lackluster when your goal is to build trust, become a presence in your area, and create a name for yourself with the locals.
For this, you need to step away from the internet, think outside the box of traditional marketing methods, and get involved, supporting your community and participating in local events.
Give Back with Education
Leverage your expertise as a business owner and professional in your field by offering your knowledge to your community. Volunteer to lecture on entrepreneurship at an adult education center, head over to the local elementary school for career day, or host classes in your store for community residents. This not only discreetly markets your business, but it also builds trust with residents and turns you into the “go-to” person in your area of expertise.
Support a Local Charity
As simple as donating a portion of your revenue or as involved as hosting contests for employees and donating the proceeds, supporting a local charity improves brand recognition and casts your business in a positive light. A car wash relay is a fantastic way to accomplish the latter and get your community involved at the same time. Set up employee teams, charge a small amount for the car wash, and watch the hilarity ensue. The winning team gets to take the proceeds and donate to the charity of their choice – bonus points if you match their donation.
Sponsor Community Members
Supporting local charities is fantastic, but it sometimes feels a bit too distant to the mom of 3 on Main Street. However, helping specific community members takes things to a more personal level. Simple projects like putting together a few backpacks of school supplies for local kids or setting up a donation jar in-store for a local resident in need come with small budgets but offer big impacts. And you can also go bigger – sponsor a local sports team, set up a scholarship fund for a high school student or adult heading back to college, or participate in food drives.
Participate in Local Events
This seems like a no-brainer, but one of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is relying solely on showing up to the event, instead of using the opportunity to make a connection with local residents. A booth at the town’s yearly summer festival is all well and good, but you’ll be quickly forgotten if you stop there. Instead, run a special sale, offer free items or discounts for people who sign up for your email list, and make an effort to draw people to your booth. Music and free food work almost anywhere, but making sure your employees are all wearing your brand’s logo and mingling with the crowds also draws people your direction.
Although the options are endless, the gist is simple – integrate and ingratiate your company with local residents, and watch your business’s name spread.