Entrepreneurs rarely take the time to consider exactly how large of a role the community plays in keeping their businesses running. They understand that the community comes in and makes purchases and then leaves, with little thought given to the relationship otherwise. In the meantime, opportunities pass these entrepreneurs by, chances to get out there and mingle with the people who would be turning to their store if only they had taken the time to make the effort.
Wise entrepreneurs understand that the involvement of the community is that pivotal point that makes the difference between getting by and being successful. In order to make the most of your relationship with the surrounding community, an entrepreneur needs to give something back to those who keep them in business.
Becoming involved in your community is not a difficult task. The ways that you can get involved are varied. You can choose to partake in as many of these methods as you like, but the important part of community involvement is being involved in at least one.
By taking the time to interact with those who support your business in such a way, you are doing much more than simply giving back to the community. You are doing a favor to those in the community, a favor that they will remember when the time comes to decide where they want to place their business loyalty. Here are some easy ways that even the smallest business can take their place among the community at large.
One simple and fun way to get involved with the community around you is by sponsoring the local youth in some manner. This can be as simple as donating the uniforms for the local soccer team to play in, or as complicated as forming an actual youth group that meets on your property once a week.
However you decide to interact with the children of the community, you are doing the local parents a massive favor. Your interaction is giving their children a clean, healthy activity, and that in itself is worth the loyalty of local parents. Keeping the children of the community out of trouble has the added benefit of keeping them straight, which means fewer criminals to deal with in a few years.
If your business is more of a specialty situation, then you've already got a foothold on a special corner of the market. This gives you the perfect launching point for hosting classes about the proper use of your special products and any safety issues that come along with them. When you offer these classes even on a monthly basis as a free option to community members, not only will word of your good deed get around, but the class itself will drive up sales for the evening.
Creating an event takes some planning and a bit of investment on your part, but the wise entrepreneur understands that this investment pays off. The entire event is essentially free advertising for your business. The more people who participate, the more people will see this advertising. Whether your business wants to sponsor a local sporting tournament, a friendly community game like a rubber ducky derby, or something as traditional as a 5K run, the event will draw plenty of community attention. Participants and spectators alike will enjoy the day of excitement sponsored by your business.
Every community has annual events for the public. These can take the form of community picnics, job fairs, championships and public get togethers, as well as larger events sponsored by other businesses in the area. At almost any of these public gatherings, you can arrange to set up a booth to show off your goods and spread the word about your business.
While it won't create as much buzz as sponsoring the event yourself will, your presence will be noticed by those enjoying the celebration. People will stop by your company's booth to read over any information you have available and to browse your wares. Have plenty of business cards or cheap items like pens or cups with your logo printed on them to give away for extra advertising.
Public Service Announcements
Entrepreneurs often think that a public service announcement has to be a listing of upcoming events from the news channel or a fancy nation-wide campaign to stop smoking. This isn't true. A public service announcement is any announcement that will serve the community exposed to it in some way.
You can volunteer your store to sponsor a public service announcement about an upcoming event or an ongoing local campaign such as ending child abuse or preventing littering. The best part about a public service announcement is that you get to attach your company name to it in the “brought to you by” section at the announcement's end.
Encouraging community responsibility is not as difficult as entrepreneurs make it out to be. This encouragement can be as simple as putting out recycling bins at a public event with your company's name on the side. You can remind customers to bring their own bags with them when they go shopping, or offer the option of paper bags instead of plastic inside your store.
All of these are a way to help the community get involved in bettering themselves. You can assist in this by encouraging local programs such as neighborhood watch, or even by allowing the city recycling drop off point to be parked in a corner of your parking lot. Your efforts in this matter will not be overlooked by your community.
The entrepreneur who knows to use community involvement opportunities as a chance to spread the word about their business can cash in on this sector of advertisement. The respect that builds in the community will more than repay your up-front costs. Community involvement options provide your business with valuable word of mouth advertising and a customer loyalty that can't be equaled.