In today’s digital world, it’s can be easy to overlook one of the most critical components to building a business: connecting with your community.
And no – we’re not talking about bolstering your online community (although that’s important, too!). A business that builds into its local communities through employee volunteer programs or corporate non-profit partnerships not only builds a customer base at home but also help boost its public image right off the bat.
What Purpose does Community Outreach Serve?
- Build a better image. Today, social responsibility is often a bigger driver for consumers than the price of a product, according to a survey conducted by B2B reviews and ratings platform Clutch. 68 percent of people surveys said giving back to the local community was one of the most important attributes of a company, compared to just 44% who listed price as a top attribute. Social responsibility shouldn’t be a stance taken as a penance if your business does have a publicized gaffe that tarnishes your brand image. Instead, build a solid image at the outset. That way, even if you have a highly publicized misstep, your company’s brand image is better insulated from disaster.
- Grow local presence.
Name recognition is another key factor for consumers and is especially critical when neighborly recommendations are often insufficient for growing a brand. By integrating with the local community, whether that means hosting a charity drive, sending employees to volunteer on company time, or sponsoring a local sports team, your business will be a household name – and for a good reason.
- Improve employee engagement.
Millennials, who are quickly becoming the majority segment of the workforce, value social responsibility – so much so they are willing to walk away from higher pay or turn down a job, according to a recent Cone Communications study. And even for employees who don’t fall into the millennial or Gen Y age range, it feels good to work for a company that gives back.
- Do the right thing.
This one is pretty simple: supporting the community your employees live and work in is just the right thing to do. And when it’s done personally and as a priority, HireVue’s Ben Martinez told Forbes Council, that genuine help tends to bring genuine business benefits as well.
Options For Community Outreach
Understanding the value of community outreach can be different from getting started. Businesses in any stage can find the right fit and making sure the outreach makes sense for your business only makes it more authentic and heartfelt. Here are four options to get started:
- Partner with a non-profit. Establish a long term partnership with a nonprofit to help support something your customer’s value. Not sure where to start? Survey your customer base and find out what matters to them. For example, Hanes partnered with the Salvation Army to match purchases to donations, which both involved customers personally and helped meet a tangible need for homeless shelters (socks). Beauty product company LUSH went custom when it launched its Charity Pot campaign, which placed a picture of a charity on the lid of its lotion, and sent profits directly there. All told, the campaign resulted in $10 million to more than 800 nonprofits.
- Provide a local sponsorship. Tiny, high-fiving T-ball players with your logo splashed across their jerseys may be the first image that comes to mind, and sponsoring a local sports team is a great way to give back to the community, but this can also expand to things like local festival sponsorships or scholarships can build into the community and integrate your brand name into local life.
- Sponsor a charity drive. Although naming rights, which is when a corporate sponsor has its name on the event title, are a sought-after spot, small businesses that can’t make this kind of financial commitment can still offer to contribute to a charity by buying a table or sponsoring a portion of the event to be included in event materials.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. Becoming a member of the chamber of commerce can provide networking opportunities not otherwise afforded to local businesses – and generally, memberships haven’t cost-prohibitive.
Are you ready to reach out to your community?
HEXA is part of the vibrant Innovation District in Richardson, TX, and growing the community in and around HEXA is a top priority for us. Come see for yourself by scheduling a tour or start a conversation about how your business can thrive in our community by contacting us at email@example.com