In many communities, the small-business owner is the cornerstone of support for various charitable functions and events.
Small-business owners don’t just provide dollars, products and services; they often take on leadership and volunteer roles that allow the community to maintain itself and grow.
The support of small-business owners to their community should be applauded. Their support is crucial in keeping community activities and programs going.
Communities aren’t the only ones that benefit from such support, though. Community support can be an effective marketing tool for the small business.
Developing an effective community giving program does not happen automatically, however. An effective program is part of an overall marketing plan and done for a reason.
Business owners often don’t think much about their gifts. This attitude comes from a mindset of “giving back.” It is based somewhat on expectations of mutual support between two groups: the community and the business.
This idea of giving is appreciated and acknowledged by a community. However, a more effective means requires a change in philosophy to one of choosing to give, or generosity with no expectation of return.
This alternative form of giving demonstrates the commitment of the business to the community. It occurs in individual giving as well. Some people have labeled it “relentless generosity.” More quickly the giver is perceived as wanting to be a part of what is being built.
Either form of giving builds a community relationship. Both help make connections and become part of the brand for the business. Yet the latter has shown to develop a deeper and stronger inter-relationship more quickly.
As you develop your small-business marketing plan, strategically think about your giving efforts of time, goods, services and money. Know the “why” for what you do and understand the potential outcomes.
Glenn Muske is the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality. Follow Glenn on Twitter: @gmuske
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Mary Smith says
Here’s another suggestion that involves merchants and local giving. I’ve watched my friend who owns a local coffee shop be bombarded by half a dozen cheerleaders asking for money to go to cheerleading camp. (This is almost a weekly occurrence,) My friend is a good salesperson and first gives the students a lesson on selling, i.e., what are you selling, how will it benefit me, why should I give you money. These are things the student advisor ought to be teaching, but . . . . Then she reminds the students that they don’t ever come downtown to support businesses and they don’t get involved in the community. She suggests that when she sees more students participating in local events and volunteering at festivals, etc., she will be more inclined to support them. Of course, she always makes a donation. Perhaps more non-profits should consider “earning” their donations by participating in local events. I ran a local festival and promised an hourly donation to groups that manned concession stands, etc. When you support the business community, even in small ways, they are much more willing to support your projects, too.
Becky McCray says
Mary, I like the idea of giving a hourly donation to groups that participate and help with community events.
Ivan Widjaya says
These days, having a business is no longer about making money. After all, the money that you will earn can only depend on the value that you provide. So as long as you give back and help the community as much as you can, you can expect some valuable returns.
Becky McCray says
Ivan, I do see a small trend of people thinking about much more than money in business. But I do think it’s increasing.