6 local business strategies to make stronger community connections
It can be hard to do business with what appears as a faceless corporate entity. From a consumer standpoint, it’s hard to know if they’ll appreciate your business — and if they have your best interests in mind! That’s where local business strategies come in handy.
By operating within a certain region, the success of the community around you can have a deep impact on your business — including the rules and regulations to which you are held.
Whether you’re interested in being a respectable and involved member of your local community, or just want to show your best side so that you can continue to operate without any potential future restrictions, here are six local business strategies to entrench your business in the community.
1. Donate a percentage of profits to a local organization
Nothing shows your company’s investment in the local community quite like donating a percentage of profits to a local organization that could really use the money.
Rita Ranch Automotive in Vail, Ariz., shows just how easy and impactful this can be by donating a percentage of oil change sales to schools in their district. Every month, they dedicate these proceeds to a new school — so everyone gets a piece of the pie!
Relevant posts on their Facebook page get a lot of attention, as a result, and drive more business into their repair shop.
2. Sponsor community events
The next time someone in your local community asks you to sponsor a local event, don’t be so quick to shoot them down.
You don’t need thousands to spare in your charity or promotions budget to make a difference through this standout among local business strategies.
Many community events offer sponsorship levels that include options for a few hundred dollars (or less). Once the deal is set, promote your involvement to encourage others to attend the event and to win yourself a few karma points with your public audience.
Cirrus Insight is a Fortune 5000 company that sponsors a lot of events local to their Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters. As a result, event organizers and attendees give them a lot of love on social media — sometimes even creating event wrap-up blog posts with links back to their website.
Even if you don’t achieve this level of publicity as the result of a local event sponsorship, at minimum, your company will get a tax break for these charitable local business strategies.
3. Teach a relevant class
This tactic is one that many marketing service providers find a lot of success with.
The idea is that you offer a free (or low price) workshop on a topic of interest to your target audience. Give enough away to either intrigue or overwhelm your audience — then swoop in at the end with an offer to work with you.
Success lies in balancing the sales pitch with information that’s truly valuable so that your efforts don’t backfire with attendees who feel like they’ve just experienced a bait-and-switch.
On a similar note, if your company has the capacity, consider organizing a monthly meetup group for your target audience. This is a great way to consistently reach your prospects, but it’s a lot more work than a one-off event.
Freelancers Union effectively does this by delegating event organization to local leaders for monthly “Spark” meetup events.
4. Delight local customers with random acts of kindness
There are many easy and affordable ways to share random acts of kindness with local customers.
A great example for this particular tactic is Zipcar, a car-sharing service that operates in several major markets around the world. Periodically, they have brand representatives execute car drops, where they leave goodies for whoever next rents a car to randomly come across. (Talk about using delight in local business strategies!)
During holidays, this might include an Elf on the Shelf. Sometimes, Zipcar partners (like Target) share full-size samples that get passed on to members. Every once in awhile, Zipcar shares their own branded swag for members to rock and help get out the word.
The most important takeaway here? Regardless of their global reach, Zipcar realizes that their success lies in building relationships with local users.
5. Organize a company volunteer day
Sometimes, a day out of the office is just the thing everyone needs to get a clear perspective and to come back refreshed and ready for work. It’s even better when this action can be combined with the activity of volunteering in your local community.
If your company doesn’t already have a policy that grants employees time off work in exchange for volunteering, it couldn’t hurt to suggest it. The biggest impacts are made with a group of people, so organize a company-wide day of volunteering for a local organization in your community.
Anixter is a global company that understands the impact that can be made when employees are given time to get involved with local initiatives. Anixter even sponsors and organizes team involvement in initiatives like Habitat for Humanity.
If it’s not feasible that the whole company can get involved in these types of local business strategies, consider alternatives like clothing drives or bake sales where proceeds go to a local organization in need. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to do something good for their community — energizing them for the rest of the workday!
6. Partner or cross-promote with another local business
The best part about getting involved in your local community is the opportunity to find mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Seek connections with complementary businesses (like a web design company and a marketing agency that creates content) where you refer each other leads. Or, consider partnering on a project together where both of your capabilities can be beneficial.
You don’t have to run a service-based business to make use of this tactic. You can even partner with businesses where there’s a little friendly competition. For example, consider brewery businesses who collaborate with other breweries on certain beer creations — they expose both businesses to new customers.
Final thoughts on local business strategies
Ignoring local business strategies is a mistake. Building relationships is easiest when showing face — and happy customers share their positive brand experiences with friends.
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