How to Use Community Relations to Grow Your Business Washington DC
How to Use Community Relations to Grow Your Business
Working Your Business
|How to Use Community Relations to Grow Your Business |
By Michele Pariza Wacek
Feb 20, 2009, 15:19
Community relations is one of those marketing strategies that isn't talked about much, even though I venture to say practically everyone ends up doing it at one time or another. Basically, community relations is when you and your business become involved in your community. For instance:
∗ Your business donates money to nonprofit organizations.
∗ You or your employees volunteer at a fundraising event.
∗ You or your employees volunteer for a nonprofit organization.
∗ You or your employees join a service club.
∗ You or your employees network and/or volunteer at industry association meetings or business functions (such as Chamber of Commerce events). Some people might consider this networking and not community relations, but I would argue networking falls under community relations. Regardless, you get the idea.
I'm going to go through the pros and cons of community relations in a moment, but first I want to encourage all of you to think about ways to not only add community relations to your marketing strategy but also to get better at leveraging those opportunities to grow your business. But first, let's go through the pros and cons.
∗ Builds credibility for you and your business.
∗ Builds personal relationships with customers.
∗ Works well with advertising Ð similar to public relations, community relations is a "soft" sell approach that can make your customers more receptive to your advertising.
∗ Can be a stepping stone for PR.
∗ More and more, customers are preferring to do business with businesses who are giving back to the community
∗ Creates goodwill (and good karma).
∗ Time Ð community relations can consume a ton of it. All that volunteering can suck up a lot of working and/or leisure hours.
∗ Long wait to realize results Ð like public relations, you implement a community relations plan for the long haul. And I do mean the long haul (even longer than PR).
∗ Difficult to track Ð I'm talking mainly about the non business networking activities here. You may never be able to trace sales to community relations. Actually, chances are you probably won't. You need to trust it's working on some cosmic level and let it go.
∗ No payoff at all Ð this can happen if you find yourself donating time and/or money to charities that are wonderful causes but offer little advertising and/or promotional opportunities. Now, that doesn't mean I'm advocating only supporting high-visibility causes. On the contrary, there are many good reasons to have a community relations program in place. For one, the good feeling you get knowing you're supporting a worthy cause (not to mention all the good karma you build).