7 Ways Small Business Owners Can Engage Their Communities
By Larry Alton
Small businesses have a number of unique traits that make them integral to their respective communities. They’re more personal than large companies and offer a more personal experience to local customers. They’re locally minded, since the founders are usually native to the area. They’re also dependent on the local economy, since they operate exclusively within a specific geographic range.
When it comes to small businesses and the communities that create them, there really is a mutually beneficial relationship; small businesses can give back to their communities, and communities can, in turn, help support those small business owners.
To increase the value of this mutually beneficial arrangement, there are a handful of strategies business owners can use:
1. Attend local events
Participating in already existing local events is a great way to gain brand exposure and become more involved with your community. Most cities, even small ones, have festivals, parades, or other events that get people outside and moving. You can attend these events by setting up your own tent, hosting some kind of contest, or just walking around and talking to people.
You’ll definitely attract some new people to your brand, plus you’ll have an opportunity to write about your attendance at the event—that will attract new social followers and give you higher local relevance so you can rank easier in search engines.
As a small business owner, you might be saddled with a heavy workload, but you can always find time to volunteer for a local charity or organization. You can either volunteer by yourself or get your entire organization involved, asking your employees and team members to come out with you for a special event.
Volunteering has a number of benefits—first and foremost, you’ll be helping a good cause in your community, which is its own reward. Second, you’ll get positive brand exposure, and finally, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people in the community.
Chances are, there is at least one major community board that’s relevant to you in your city. And if you’re committed to getting involved, you should have no problem getting yourself on the board eventually. For example, your city might have a specific council for small businesses, or for ones that operate downtown. There may also be one that supports some of your other interests.
Whichever board you choose and however you choose to get involved, becoming a community member is a positive move for your business. You’ll become connected to similar business owners and professionals in the area, and you’ll have the opportunity to help support your community as well.
4. Work together with other business owners
You don’t need to volunteer or serve on a board to meet other business owners in your area. Depending on your location, you might be able to walk down the street and find some. Forging partnerships and deals with other business owners tends to yield positive results for each party involved.
For example, if you own and operate a small restaurant or café, you might find another small business that produces a specific food product, and you might be able to work out a consignment deal that gives your customers better food choices while making your business partner some extra money on the side.
5. Hold public events
This is especially useful if you have access to your own space. If your business only operates between 9 and 5 on weekdays, why not make good use of that space for all the other times?
For example, if you have a large space, you can host a public event like a motivational speaker session or a networking session. If you have a large conference area that’s seldom used, you can open it to local freelancers and other professionals who don’t have their own space. You can give back to your community without sacrificing much and meet great new people in the process.
6. Reward your local fans
Your local community members are likely the ones helping to keep your business alive. Why not give them a reward for their loyalty? You can do this by offering special deals, giveaways, or other events—for example, you might set up a cart in front of your store and give away free hot dogs to passersby, or you might host a random giveaway for anyone who’s come to your business in the past few months. It will generate buzz and goodwill among your neighbors.
7. Sponsor teams or organizations
Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of a team sponsorship. For a relatively minimal amount of money, you can help support a school’s athletic programs (or similar extracurricular activity) and get some extra positive press and brand exposure for your business at the same time. And sponsorships don’t have to end at school teams—you can sponsor other things, too, particularly in charitable applications. For example, you might be able to adopt a highway in your company’s name.
Engage with your community as a small business owner and you’ll reap the rewards. It might mean more brand exposure, the ability to meet new clients, or the development of new partnerships that help drive your business forward. In any case, you’ll be taking your business to new levels of success and helping your community flourish at the same time. Use these strategies to your advantage.
Tel. (313) 318-7465
4063 W. Jefferson Ave.
Ecorse, MI 48229
Monday - CLOSED
Tuesday - Friday 10:00 - 6:00
Saturday 11:00 - 6:00
Sunday 12:30 - 4:00