If your business is primarily focused on expanding its product offerings and beefing up its client base, rather than encouraging employee volunteer programs or pursuing corporate-nonprofit partnerships, you could be missing a crucial component of marketing success.
While the dividends realized from community participation may be of the long-term variety, taking action to increase your presence in your local community and online can not only gain you new customers, but help insulate you from the fallout of negative publicity. Read on to learn more about how community participation can help market your business, as well as some concrete steps you can take to boost your community involvement with the help of a Smart POS system like Clover POS.
How Does Community Outreach Help Your Business?
Community outreach can improve your business in several tangible ways.
- Improving corporate image
A 2013 survey on corporate social responsibility found that a staggering 9 of 10 respondents would boycott a company if they discovered this company had engaged in irresponsible or unethical behavior. Even if your own company's actions are beyond reproach, the modern 24/7 media cycle and the explosion of social media can mean that a single misstep may be broadcast to the world within moments.
By engaging in community outreach efforts, you can inoculate your business against future negative publicity and make it much easier to rebound from any hits you might someday take.
- Boosting local presence
Positive name recognition is a major factor when it comes to drawing in new customers and clients, and it's no longer enough to simply rely on word-of-mouth referrals. By becoming more involved with your local community—whether sponsoring local sports teams, encouraging your employees to use work time toward charitable volunteering, or hosting your own charity drives with the help of the Clover Mini—you'll be able to make your business a household name with a positive connotation.
How to Boost Your Community Involvement
Improving your image and boosting your community involvement isn't an overnight process, but there are a few concrete steps you can take to get started.
- Local Sponsorships
Seeing your business's name on the back of local Little League uniforms can be a proud moment, but the marketing doesn't end there. Each time these children are photographed, and each time these photographs are shared on social media, your business's name will be presented to another prospective customer.
This type of advertising can often provide you a far greater return on investment than paying for newspaper, radio, television, or social media advertisements that may not reach as wide an audience.
Even if your business operates in a fairly small town, there should be no shortage of sponsorship opportunities available. From youth and adult sports teams to summer fairs and festivals, non-profit charity drives, exchange student programs, and other worthy causes, it's easy to dive in and begin a new partnership. The highly portable Clover Mobile and Clover Flex point of sale systems can even help you organize these events on the go, making the local sponsorship process simpler than ever.
- Charity Drives
Studies have shown that consumers tend to reward charitably-active companies by remaining loyal to them, even if these business's prices or locations may not be as convenient as their competitors. Research has indicated that charity drives can also improve employee retention, as many employees prefer working for charity-conscious companies.
By regularly sponsoring charity drives, you'll be able to benefit a local organization in need while increasing your status among both your employees and the general public. And this doesn't need to take away from your other responsibilities: the Clover POS system has an app that can help you organize and even publicize your charity drives, making the process of giving back nearly effortless.
- Chamber of Commerce Membership
If your business isn't already involved with your local Chamber of Commerce or other industry-specific business organization, there's no better time to get started. Memberships in these organizations can often be inexpensive and will present you with unique networking opportunities that aren't available through other channels.
- Non-Profit Partnerships
Another simple way to improve your community outreach efforts is to enter into a long-term partnership with a local non-profit organization. The 2013 Cone Communications survey discovered that more than half (or 59 percent) of customers were more likely to purchase a product from a business that was associated with a charity or non-profit, while a separate survey found that 56 percent of customers would travel 10 minutes or more out of their way to purchase a product that was associated with a cause close to their heart.
While partnering with a non-profit that has some relationship with your business and its offerings can provide the most marketing bang for your buck, just about any charitable partnership is better than none at all. You may want to conduct a survey of your current customers to see whether there are certain charities or organizations that tend to be most popular, then target your efforts toward these organizations.
And by using a Smart POS system like Clover POS to handle your charitable outreach and sponsorship processes, you'll be able to focus your efforts where they matter most: handling the high-level operations of your business.