If you’re a startup or new business, you may immediately ignore those invitations to participate in community events. Perhaps you’re not interested in setting up a pop-up tent at a local event to let people know more about your business or to volunteer your time, products or services because you have a lot of other things going on. You should reconsider.
While it can be time-consuming to get involved in the community, as a new business owner, it can be a valuable way to grow your company, particularly when you’re just starting.
How and why does community involvement help grow businesses, and what should you know?
First and foremost, the primary advantage of community involvement for a business in any stage is the awareness it can bring. When you’re a new business, you’re going to struggle to get yourself out there, and most opportunities to do so can cost quite a bit.
By participating in community events, you’re giving yourself a free or low-cost way to build awareness and help people also associate your brand with something positive.
For the best impact, before saying yes to a community involvement opportunity, try to think about where your targeted audience is most likely to be. Give thought to where the people you want to connect with most are going to be in your community and be discerning when you choose what to participate in.
You don’t have to participate in everything—you do have to be strategic and participate in the right events.
Have an understanding of what you want to convey in the community and what values are important to you. Also, think about your business strengths as you decide how to get involved in the community.
You also have to think about the fact that awareness-building opportunities will go beyond the event itself. Even people who aren’t at the event will know you participated thanks to word of mouth, free press, and social media coverage.
Along with creating general awareness, when you position yourself as a brand that’s actively involved in the community and interested in giving back, you’re also helping people trust you.
Consumers want to feel like they can trust the companies they do business with and if you’re out and about in the community, it’s going to help foster that.
Plus, if you’re participating in community events that are centered around certain causes, then potential customers are going to see your values are in line with theirs. It’s very important to the modern consumer to shop with brands that match their values.
Create a Positive Culture
If you’re just starting a business, you may only have a few employees. However, you need to retain them and you’re likely going to be hiring in the future as well.
You want to have your employees feel as if they work in a positive environment with a good corporate culture. By getting them involved in the community as well through your business efforts, it’s a good way to cultivate that positive culture.
How Can You Get Involved in the Community?
There are a lot of ways to get active in the community as a business owner, and many of the options cost little or even no money, but yet they can bring great marketing value.
Examples of community involvement opportunities to explore include:
- Volunteer your time. This doesn’t have to mean a lot of time, but just volunteering a few hours a week can help you promote your brand and give back to the community. If you have employees, consider incentivizing them for volunteer time as well. If it’s not possible for you to volunteer your time, volunteer space. Use part of your office or store as a way to collect donations for a local charity.
- If you have the financial means, consider sponsoring a community event. It could be a little league or youth sports team or something similar, and you can get your name out there, with little time-related investment.
- Get to know local community leaders. This is unique from other options on this list but can be helpful as well. Building relationships with community leaders can help you find other opportunities where you can give back to the community in bigger ways, plus you position yourself as an important part of the business community. If opportunities arise, you may be first to hear about them if you have strong community relationships.
If you’re heading a startup, it’s essential to include community involvement in your overall business plan for future growth.