All businesses start small. Some start as one-person operations in garages, while others arise from a small group of partners who are passionate about a single cause. We’ve all heard stories about now-mega companies like Apple and Google get their start from humble beginnings, and there are dozens of home-spun companies currently coming up from the ground and enjoying significant success. You know what all these companies have in common? Besides hard work and a clear vision? They took the time to build local interest, first. As is true with most things, you need solid roots before you can branch out. By creating local interest and becoming a local hero in your community, you can lay the foundation for successful brand interaction, both now and in the future. Here’s what you need to know:
How to Spark Local InterestThere are dozens of ways to gain positive recognition in your company’s hometown. Some of them are common tactics: standard advertising or marketing, donations to local causes, hosting local events, participating in local festivals, and more. Aside from these standard approaches, though, there are dozens of ways to spark interest and get involved in your community. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Talk to the PressIf you’ve never met with the local press, now might be the time to do it. While large companies pay for traditional PR and ongoing advertising campaigns, small companies typically don’t have the budget or the ability to do this. Because of this, meeting with local press is essential. In a small town or community, local press typically has a large and expansive reach. Because of this, a simple write-up in a local magazine or newspaper could go a long way toward expanding your reach and ensuring you make a positive impact in your community. If you’d like to take it one step further, consider conducting a full interview and having a journalist take some photos of your business and staff. It’s a great way to promote your business and become a local household name.
2. Host a Local ClassIf you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you’re one of the few companies in your area that offers a certain product, good, or service, it’s safe to bet that you offer a service that many people want or want to know more about. One great way to capitalize on this is to provide a course or class to enlighten your local customers and spread knowledge about your product, good, or service. For example, if you run a marketing company, teaching a local marketing course is a great way to make people aware of your offerings and bring them through the door. While some people believe that educating people will only make people less likely to take advantage of their product, good, or service, this isn’t true. Customers may be more likely to do business with your brand if they find that they can learn from you, in the first place. Say hello to local hero status.
3. Join the Chamber of CommerceTake a more proactive approach to local decision-making and policy-creation by getting involved in your local chamber of commerce. In addition to providing a business listing for your company, becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce is an excellent way to create connections. By meeting with other area business owners, it helps ensure you have the tools and resources needed to create new insights and ideas to solve strategic issues. What’s more, customers who know that a company is involved in the local chamber are 44% more likely to think favorably of it than they would if the brand was not involved in the chamber.
4. Support a Local CharityIf there’s a local charity that people in your community care deeply about, go out of your way to support it. Donating to a local charity or organization that’s important to your community is a great way to stand out as a cause-minded and community-focused brand. Wondering which organizations to get involved with? You may want to choose to support efforts that impact members of your community, such as supporting victims of a local catastrophe or supporting a specific family in need. You can also volunteer to be a drop-off point for holiday goods, toys for children, donated meals, and more. In addition to helping you win community exposure, this is a great way to support people around you and give back to the community you love.
5. Create a Local ScholarshipHelp promote good works in your community by creating a local scholarship. Support academic efforts and excellence by setting up a scholarship either for a single student or students who are pursuing careers in your industry, for example. There’s virtually no way to go wrong with this: simply pick a cause that’s important to you and run with it. Not only will you help people you care about, but your community will see your efforts and develop a compassionate viewpoint toward you.
Additional TipsLooking for other ways to become a hometown hero? Here are some simple hacks:
- Participate in shop local events. Keep the money local by getting involved in “shop local” events this holiday season. Black Friday is a great time to hop on this bandwagon, as is Small Business Saturday. Be a local hero for your own company and other businesses by promoting these things.
- Host community meetings. Find a cause you care about and host community meetings dedicated to supporting it. From your local AA chapter to a community environmental organizations, there are many ways to support causes you believe in.
- Shift your marketing. Shift your marketing to focus more locally. Instead of stock photos, hire a photographer to take pictures of your actual, local customers and products. This makes marketing more personal and meaningful and helps you stand out in your industry.