When I meet with clients to discuss marketing strategy, many times I hear, “What should we do, we have a limited marketing budget,” or, “What else can we do, we have met our marketing and advertising budget but we feel we can do more?”I typically respond with, “What are you doing in the community?”Unfortunately the typical response is, “We are members of the Chamber of Commerce!”Ugh, I hear that too often. That's not community involvement. The lack of creativity at this point is killing me.“No, what are you DOING in the community? What have you done to give back, to be involved, to get noticed as a leader of change and influence,” I ask.At this point, I usually get “crickets” (silence). I only like silence when I'm drinking a voluptuous martini after a long day at work. Shaken, not stirred please. Ugh again...Event Marketing With Community Focus Has Multiple Benefits
For companies on a lean budget, event marketing that focuses on community involvement and giving back is a no-brainer with multiple benefits:
- It is a feel good project.
- Extends your brand image through non-traditional channels.
- Differentiates you from the competition.
- Allows you the opportunity as a business owner to give project responsibility to new employees or employees looking to shine.
- Benefiting your community brings press and attention your way – the good kind of press.
- These events can usually be produced for very little investment in a short amount of time.
- They force you to go out and meet people in your community. You may just meet a new client.
- Annual events build momentum, keeping your business on the top of people's minds.
- You will forge alliances with other businesses in your community, enhancing your referral network both online and in the real world.
- Of course, you'll be able to share this event online through your social media channels and website, giving you something to talk about and share. Remember, the more relevant content, the better. See our previous article on “Everything is A Story” and “Making Your Blog Bloom” for more on content and blog writing.
Quick Case Study
A great example of this type of marketing project would be something as simple as an annual food drive. Right now, we are developing an annual food drive for one of our clients,Pacific Vista Landscaping Services of Santa Clarita, Ca. (PVL) In discussing their marketing strategy, PVL stated they wanted part of their strategy to have a community component. After a discussion with the local food pantry, we discovered that the food pantry in that area gets hit hard at the start of summer as school kids who rely on the free meals at school are now home needing lunches. So, late spring is a great time for a landscaping company to give back to the community (local food pantries) because:
- It fulfills a real community need at a very specific time.
- Late spring is when this particular landscaping company is gearing up their major services. This annual event adds exposure to the company during a critical time.
The Pacific Vista Landscaping Services Food Drive is a perfect example of a low cost, feel good community project that garners press annually while developing and maintaining relationships locally.
Key Ingredients for Your Community Project
It is key to remember the following ingredients when developing your community project:
- Make sure to involve your employees. They are the eyes and ears of your company and one of them may be a future leader. Great marketing also includes great personnel development.
- Invite your key vendors to get involved (Your banks, brokers, accountants, etc.) Remember they want your business and therefore they have reasons to get involved beyond the feel good aspects.
- Make it timely and fulfill a specific need – any effort to give back is a good one. But a timely effort will be remembered and appreciated even more.
- Get off the phone and spend some time on the streets, shaking hands and meeting potential clients and alliances. No better way to open a cold call than with a feel good project. “What do you do?” will come after “Hey, I got a great project for us to work on – we'll be rock stars!”