Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Five Unique Ways to Promote Your Small Business through Community Outreach

03.16.2010 · Posted in Community Outreach, Public Relations

1. Advertise in local community theatre play bills. Community theatres provide a tremendous resource for a small community – especially for its young people. It provides intelligent entertainment, a positive creative outlet, and encourages a love of the arts for everyone involved. If your town doesn’t have a community theatre, try the high school Theatre Department.

2. Sponsor a little league team. This is especially good for businesses that cater to families and restaurants.

3. Create a school fundraiser. This is a great way to simultaneously support your local school system and get people inside your door at the same time. Kids sell everything from cheese and sausage to pizza coupons to candy bars to candles and bath salts.

  • Do you have a product that you think kids could con their parents and relatives into buying tons of? How about Christmas ornaments or Christmas cards? Or gift certificates to your salon or massage parlor? Is your business a handmade craft like jewelry, candles, or beauty products? If you can print up a little catalog, you can sell a bunch of this stuff, especially in the months before the holidays. The students will take all the orders, you fill them by the appointed time and give the school a kickback of 10-20% of the profits.
  • Maybe you have a dine-in or fast food restaurant? Coupons, discount cards, and gift certificates or cards are an excellent fundraiser all year round. You sell them at 80 or 90 percent of face value to the school and they keep the difference when they sell them.

4. Sponsor a ‘Battle of the Bands.’ Own a music shop? Or just like to rock out every now and then? If your business caters to a younger crowd, sponsor a battle of the bands. A few tips on how to make this work:

  • Make sure there’s a clear winner, and a second and third place.
  • Have judges, but include crowd response as one of the criteria – that way the band members are encouraged to get lots of supporters to show up.
  • Offer a prize. Whether it’s the cash collected as a cover charge, money you put up yourself, or some other prize, make it really good and worth the band’s time and energy.
  • Set rules. Most of the time you don’t want a lot of swearing going on in the music if your small business is associated with the event. Usually bands are willing to comply.
  • If you’re seriously considering this option, email me! I’ve done it a few times and I can give you some additional pointers.

5. Speak to schools and organizations. As a small business owner, you’re probably a subject matter expert in what you sell. For example, I speak to local chambers of commerce, other business organizations and junior economics or communications classes about PR, advertising and local political involvement. That’s what I know and so I can pass that valuable knowledge to others through that interaction. Then I can network with those people and gain new skills for myself.

Community outreach for your small business is simply an extension of your own involvement in your community. You are a direct reflection on your business, so be sure to stay involved and generally do good things. When you do good things, good things come to you. When you strategically do good things, strategically good things come to you.

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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