As a business owner you have a legal duty of care to all of your stakeholders. Although having a social responsibility is not a legal duty, however, operating a business in a community where there is a diverse population with disadvantaged members who use and/or support your products should receive the same support in return. I’m not saying go out and donate large sums of monies to charity or extend yourself where it is not necessary. What I am saying is, “you wash their back and they’ll wash yours”. Communities and small businesses are the links between a healthy economy and success.
How It Can Work For You
1. Business Support: Let’s say there’s a non-profit organization in the community that is seeking support for a fundraiser. They are soliciting support from local businesses in the form of monetary, volunteering, or product donation. This is where you step up to the plate and commit to supporting their cause by volunteering so many hours at the event. While at this event, you have a chance to introduce yourself, mingle and get to know the community members. This creates a presence. Now the community knows who you are and what products you offer, this opens doors for new potential clients. When the need arises and someone in the community who attended this event is looking for products, which you offer, the company or person comes to mind is you.
The members have come to recognize your commitment to build and support the community. Word of mouth spreads fast, all it takes is a presence and commitment.
2. Become Popular with the Locals: In every community there are coalitions, which supports the community in various capacities. Most of these coalitions have levels of power within the community that extends beyond your reach. Those groups with extended reach, you want to connect with (Zanta, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club). It is within these coalitions you want to build relationships. By now you’ve already established a presence in the community, now it’s time to become one of the “Who’s Who”.
Because of your volunteering services a couple of weeks ago, members begin inviting you to events, social activities, sponsorship opportunities, and so on. Before you know it, you are one of the community’s favorite places to shop. As a result, the community members and the movers and shakers knows who you are and will support your business.
3. Free Exposure: There’s nothing wrong with free advertising. One thing the media really takes notice of-what local businesses are doing to support their community. Whenever you are involved with an event, activity, or a partnership with a non-profit group it adds a couple of notches to your belt. Every time this group host a fundraising event or runs a marketing campaign, if you are affiliated with the cause, you can be included in their advertising and marketing materials. Non-profit’s pay little to no money for advertising, therefore they can advertise and market abroad and reach a vast number of readers. As time goes on, the local media and freelance writers will start to take notice of your supporting efforts. You’ll start getting requests for interviews with write-ups in popular papers, which are distributed to thousands of readers through print and the internet. Today most of the media produce and attain information from blogs and twitters, which are very important marketing segments. This is where the free exposure really begins to payoff. You’re not only getting exposed, you now have written and published articles, which can add creditability to your company.
This is not about just receiving, it's about giving and receiving. Support your local communities because it's the right thing to do.
This article was written by Connie Sparks, a business strategist and president of the Wade Institute, LLC. It originally appeared on www.evancarmichael.com.