For brick-and-mortar businesses, community marketing is an absolute necessity. You use it to show everyone you’re a dedicated member of the neighborhood and to put your services in front of those who are most likely to benefit from them.
“Developing a community base is imperative for any business looking to thrive,” explains AJ Agrawal of CMO Network.
“Major businesses like Nike, Starbucks, and Apple all target their community base for marketing. The costs of marketing to new customers is six to seven times the amount as it is to market toward an existing community base, which has given many businesses the incentive to switch their marketing strategies toward their consumers.”
If you’re looking to expand your brand awareness and customer retention, community marketing should be where you turn your resources and attention. You can cover a lot of ground with some of the following tried-and-true marketing practices.
1. Be Present at Local Events
People notice when you turn up at local activities, if you take the trouble to make your logo and company name prominent. Set up a booth with your brand or team name emblazoned on a canopy tent so visitors can see it from far away.
Consumers are inspired by visuals; they gravitate towards sights they recognize. This is part of the reason that such brands as Nike and Coca Cola are so successful.
Their target customers recognize their logos, color schemes, and products, and people know they’ll receive quality service and products. This makes them loyal shoppers. Putting your brand out in public is one of the best community marketing tools you can employ.
2. Participate Without Promoting Yourself
Too many firms spend the majority of their time at community events only pitching their business. “Nobody wants to get hit with a hard sell when they’re browsing their community of choice, so take off your marketing hat and really participate in the conversations that are happening,” says an article in Search Engine Journal.
The people who attend these events choose to show up in order to get information, do research, network, learn, and seek potential benefits on their own terms. If they have questions about your company, they’ll ask them, but you’re apt to get further in attracting customers by being an active participant in the community … without a visible expectation of getting anything in return.
3. Be an Expert in the Industry
Consumers often need experts. When they require dental work, they expect to get advice from professionals who know what they’re talking about. When a person’s car breaks down, he or she wants someone who clearly knows cars well enough to fix it.
If you can establish yourself as an expert, you’ll attract clients. Any opportunity you can find to share your expertise during community events, take it.
You might give a presentation at a seminar or sponsor an event in your industry. That will make you the expert of the event, so people will be interested in your products or services afterward.
4. Be a Sponsor
Sponsorship is one of the best ways to get your name out to your community. Not only does it lead to greater brand awareness, but it also makes you look great.
If you choose to become a sponsor, Matt Hall, vice president of marketing for a dental office in Washington, says you should be an intentional rather than a passive sponsor; i.e., someone who engages. “There needs to be intentionality,” Matt explains.
“It’s easy to write a check for the little league team and put your name on the back of the hat or a T-shirt.” These are passive acts.
“The more engaged you are, the better,” he adds. “It’s supposed to be fun … it’s not about selling services, it’s about connecting with the community … Little league teams need snacks every week. Why not put the snacks together and actually show up?”
This is just one of many approaches to engaged sponsorship that will convert community members into customers.
5. Team Up with Other Businesses
A popular and highly effective social marketing strategy entails working with social influencers to extend your brand reach. It broadens your audience through the fanbase of another brand.
The same concept can be achieved in community marketing. Find other firms in the community that could benefit from a joint marketing strategy and team up with them.
Look for businesses that are complementary to yours, but not necessarily competitors. For example, if you have a frozen yogurt shop, ask restaurants around town if they’ll put up a sign that advertises 10 percent off a frozen yogurt purchase if a customer brings in a receipt from the restaurant.
Quite a few dining establishments will agree to this because it attracts customers without hurting their profits.
Consumers want to patronize their local businesses, but they often require a solid incentive to do so. The above five tips can help you extend your brand reach and maximize your marketing efforts.
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