As a business owner, it is your responsibility to come up with new ways of bringing in clientele, while still maintaining or building brand awareness in your local community. You may feel the need to ramp up your social media presence or put more money into your online advertising campaigns. While those are two traditionally successful ways of growing your business, they are not the only avenues of expanding your business.
Community outreach is a great way to promote your business and attract new customers while spreading the word about your brand, values, and mission. Let’s break down the ways that community outreach helps your business grow—and gives you relatively cheap (or even free) publicity!
What exactly is community outreach?
Community outreach is the act of providing education, support, and socialization openly to the community you belong to or decide upon. When it comes to community outreach for business specifically, this means participating in any local community event or simply making your presence known in order to spread the word and drive more traffic to your business.
How do I get started with community outreach?
We’re so glad you asked and are curious about getting involved in your community in order to grow your business. The first step is to find local groups that focus on building up local businesses, such as a Chamber of Commerce or social group for business owners in the area. Finding this group of people will not only help you connect with like-minded individuals that can help you in your efforts, but it will point you in towards all of the local events happening right in your community!
OK, I found some local events I may be interested in. What next?
The next step is quite simple: get involved!
The type of outreach and the events you participate in will largely depend on your industry. Despite your particular sector of business, though, one thing should always be true: that you get in front of the people in your community. Whether it’s securing a booth at a local farmer's market, setting up a tent on the sidewalk of your business, or simply participating in a local town hall meeting, you should aim to find the type of event that works for your business.
For example, having a fitness company means that you should find an event that focuses on health and wellness. By focusing on your market research (and without generalizing), you can assume your target demographic likely attends farmer's markets or enjoys exercising on local bike/walking trails. Try setting up a booth at these locations to showcase who you are and what you stand for, and consider offering a workout demo for people to observe!
The key to community outreach is to get your face, your company, and your product in front of others while creating key relationships. Try to think outside of the box and find something that makes sense for your industry, but maybe has been overlooked in the past. For example, a local gym may partner with a local supplement company to offer their clients information about your services. In turn, you may offer your clients or members information about their supplements. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that allows you to not only get in front of more community members, but also to build on-brand, symbiotic relationships.
When it comes down to choosing how you get involved in your community and the type of outreach you choose to do, it has to make sense for your bottom line. Are you trying to sell more products? If so, make sure you have a presence somewhere that allows you to bring your products with you, or at least offer samples to members of the community. If you are offering a particular service, make sure that you are reaching your target market and audience at whatever event you choose to attend.
Here are a few examples of community outreach opportunities that businesses have traditionally participated in…
- Teach a free class to a group (or multiple groups) related to your business or using your businesses products.
- Sponsor a community-related event, such as a 5K, food drive, or a community gathering.
- Hold an open house at your place of business so people can come and get to know you and your products or services. Make sure there's no obligation for them to buy anything—make it a fun time for them to just come see what you have to offer!
- Attend city hall meetings to make sure that your voice is heard within the community. This is also a great way to simultaneously get to know other business owners in your city.
- Join social groups for like-minded individuals, whether that’s with people in your industry or just fellow business owners.
- Partner with local vendors to promote each other.
When it comes down to it, there’s not necessarily a right or a wrong way to get involved in the community, as long as you do it with the purest intentions. Simply get out there, get involved, and make sure that you are striving to make a difference in your community every time you step out of the studio. Remember: you are a direct representation of your business and the first face that members of your community will associate with your brand. Make sure they feel valued, important, and welcome, and you will be embraced with open arms!